Whenever I read or hear about toy trains, I invariably go back to my childhood days when my parents took the three of us (my brother, sister and myself) to the city botanical garden. The trip was always exciting as there were so many things to see & do – animals, birds, reptiles, elephant rides, boat rides and most of all the train ride. The train, obviously, was a miniature version of the original train that we travel in our day to day lives. The small and colourful train always attracted me the most. When the train chugged into the station, my heart jumped with delight. I always ran to grab the corner seat so that I could be as close to the views as possible. I stretched my hands out to touch the bushes that the trains passed through; to feel the drops of rain that wet my hand and to soak in the sheer experience of travelling in the beautiful train. It was an enjoyable and tremendously satisfying journey for me.
Today even thinking about these toy trains gives me same sense of pleasure. The Darjeeling Toy Train, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site is one such toy train of India. The train is the queen of Darjeeling. No one, who travels to the area ever comes back without taking a ride. The journey begins from Siliguri station and culminates in Darjeeling. The distance is not much – just 80 kms. If you take a car, it will take you somewhere around three to four hours, but our queen takes her time! Expect around six to seven hours of journey. If you are in a hurry, better avoid the train as you will not be able to enjoy the journey and the beautiful moments it has to offer.
Glimpses of refreshingly green tea gardens, steep hillsides, dainty hamlets will become part of your memories. The first station, Sukna, itself will offer you a myriad of colours to enjoy. Post Sukna, the train passes through stations that have fascinating names – Tindharia, Kurseong,Chunabhati, Tung Chutlinkpur and Jorebunglow, Ghoom and Sonada. At Ghoom, you will be at the second highest railway station in the world that is accessed by a steam locomotive. From here, a six km downhill journey past Batasia loop will bring you to Darjeeling.
The Darjeeling Toy Train is an excellent way to enjoy the leisurely pace of life. I am looking forward to travelling in this train in near future and then write down something more as per my first hand experience. Meanwhile, if you have already travelled in this charming toy train, do let me know about your experience.