Nilgiri Mountain Railway, India
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a historical and beautiful journey through southern India’s Tamil Nadu state, dating back to 1908. The exclusive toy train was built by the British as a holiday train, taking them from the blazing heat of lowland Tamil Nadu to the hilltop station of Udhagamandalam (Ooty) with its luscious shaded surroundings.
Today the journey still runs from Mettupalayam to Udhagamandalam, via Coonoor, Wellington, Arvankadu and Lovedale. Pulled by steam locomotives, in 2005 the railway was recognised by UNESCO as an extension to the World Heritage Site of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – and the site became known as the Mountain Railways of India.
Prices from: INR 40.
Departing from: Mettupalayam, India
Journey length: 4 hours, 50 minutes
Nilgiri Mountain Railway route
The train runs in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, running from Mettupalayam to Udhagamandalam – a popular resort known today as Ooty. The journey from Mettupalayam is uphill, travelling just 46 kilometres to reach the terminus and climbing to 2,203 metres above sea level. In fact, the train has the steepest track in Asia.
Showing off the best of the most beautiful scenery in the state, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway travels past UNESCO railway stations and through the rugged Nilgiri hills. Climbing through 16 tunnels, 250 bridges and 208 curves, the entire journey is 4 hours, 50 minutes, departing from Mettupalayam at around 7am and pulling into Ooty at midday. The return journey downhill only takes 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway train
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is steeped in nostalgia, with passengers pulled by steam locomotives on a train that looks like a child’s toy. Passengers can travel in either first or second class (first being more spacious and comfortable), but there are no services on board. Make sure to pack bottled water and some snacks to see you through and sit on the right side of the train for the best views.
What we love
Riding this train will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Bollywood movie, from the toy-like livery to the striking scenery it passes – think paddy fields, tea plantations and small-town railway stations of yesteryear.