Friday, June 29, 2012

Darjeeling Railway

These photographs were taken in 1980, much has changed since though much is still the same, road transport has grown of course, stunning that locomotives built over 100 years ago are still in action. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal, run by the Indian Railways.It was built between 1879 and 1881 and is about 86 kilometres (53 mi) long. The elevation level is from about 100 metres (328 ft) at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. Four modern diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services: however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India's highest railway station) are handled by vintage Scottish-built B Class steam locomotives.Since 1999 the train has been a World Heritage Site as listed by UNESCO. The railway line basically follows Hill Cart Road which is partially the same as National Highway 55. Usually, the track is simply on the road side. In case of landslides both track and road might be affected. As long parts of the road are surrounded with buildings, the railway line often rather resembles urban tramway tracks than an overland line. To warn residents and car drivers about the approaching train, engines are equipped with very loud horns that even drown horns of Indian trucks and buses. Trains horn almost without pause - therefore people with sensitive ears (especially foreigners from countries that are more quiet than India) should wear ear protection while riding the train.
Two Locomotives chugging along near Ghum.
Passing close by as it does the railway and road sharing the same bit of ground.
Into town beyond the station for goods only.
It's normal to see cows feeding on garbage but here in Darjeeling it was mostly goats.
Quite high up from the plains at 7000 ft I decided to pay a visit to this licensed vendor Ganja Bhang shop. Well for a few rupees I got considerable higher and experienced the most amazing lightening storm with crashing rain on the corrugated roof of the hotel, I wasn't able to go anywhere anyway, stunning.

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