The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Toy Train is a narrow-gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. The train also passes through Ghum, which is one of the highest located stations in the world. Ghum Station is located at an altitude of 2258 metres.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Toy Train, popularly known as the DHR, began operations in 1881 and runs a total distance of 88 kilometres.
Why You Should Visit
The DHR is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and runs through the beautiful hills of Darjeeling. The train moves at a slow pace and you can really take in the beautiful landscapes of the hill station.
The train is an engineering marvel capable of covering some treacherous hills. It serves as a link between the Darjeeling Hills and the villages that lie in the lower plains. The DHR still operates certain locomotives that are steam-based, however, these locomotives aren’t allowed to travel on the steep gradients.
Best time to visit
October, November and December are the best months to experience the Darjeeling toy train services as the mist begins to recede during this time and you can get a better view of the surroundings.
During monsoon time the tracks of the toy train are sprinkled with sawdust and sand to avoid the loss of any traction between the train and the tracks. You will often find attendants to tending to the tracks during these seasons to ensure the safety of the train and its passengers.
Number of Trips
The train conducts many such trips on a daily basis starting from the morning. The number of rides covered during the day depends on the demand of the particular season. During peak season times the DHR may conduct up to 20 train rides a day. On this route, the train also stops at the famous Batasia Loop.
Best Sights on Darjeeling Toy Train
Darjeeling to Ghum
Ghum is one of the highest altitude train stations on the DHR track. The hilly town also serves as a junction to many cities such as Siliguri, Kurseong, Sonada and Lopchu.
The toy train operates from Darjeeling to Ghum on a daily basis and the ride usually lasts for about two hours. The round trip from Darjeeling to Ghum covers a total distance of 14 kilometres.
The Batasia Loop construction was commissioned in 1919 as an engineering requirement for the toy train to successfully handle the steep gradient that it faced at Ghum. Without the Batasia lane, it would have been impossible for the train to connect from Darjeeling to Ghum.
The Batasia Loop sees some well-manicured garden and provides an unprecedented view of the beautiful city of Darjeeling. You get a mesmerising view of the Kanchenjunga mountain range. Batasia Loop also houses the war memorial built in honour of the Gorkha regiment that gave up their lives to protect the city at the very spot where the memorial stands.
Schedule of the DHR from Darjeeling to Ghum
There are 18 rides that are scheduled as early as 7.40 am with the last train leaving at 4.30 pm. You get the preference of choosing which train you want to ride in, the one with the steam engine or the one with the diesel engine. The train ride with the steam engine guarantees the most genuine experience of travelling in the DHR.
Certain coaches offer first class seating as well. There are two first class coaches available in the trains that are pulled by the steam engine and three first-class coaches available in the ones pulled by diesel engines.
Prices of Darjeeling Toy Train: Rs. 800 (Diesel Engine Rides), Rs. 1,300 (Steam Engine Rides) as of January 2018
Siliguri to Rangtong & Return
Rangtong is a small village located approximately 16 kilometres from Siliguri, which stands at approximately at 1400 feet. The DHR starts from Siliguri and goes up to Rangtong Town. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary lies en route to Rangtong Station from Sukna Station in Siliguri. The sanctuary is a must visit for nature lovers. While there, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the Tindharia Valley.
Schedule of the DHR from Siliguri to Rongtong Station
The round trip usually lasts about 3 hours. It initially used to be around 6 hours when it used to go all the way up to Gayabari but this was cut down to accommodate more routes. The train from Siliguri leaves at 10.30 am from Siliguri Junction. It travels via Sukna and reaches Rangtong at 11.50 am. The train stops at Rangtong for 20 minutes and makes a return to Siliguri at 1.35 pm. The entire trip covers a distance of 32 kilometres. Depending on the demand there are usually 2-3 coaches available that are driven by steam locomotives.
Things to when planning a Darjeeling toy train ride
- Tickets aren’t required for children below 5 years, however, ID proofs may be required.
- There is no concession for children of 5 years and above. No concession is provided to senior citizens, either.
- The fares of steam engine pulled trains are higher because they represent the original heritage trains and provide a unique experience. The costs to maintain the steam engines are also higher.
- The first class coach of the toy train has recliner seats and can accommodate up to 17 people at a time.