Famed for 103 tunnels,864 bridges and more than 900 curves with angles as sharp a 48 degrees, the train to Shimla still pricks one’s imagination and leaves us awed with the technical an material effort put to construct the most expensive tracks of the time.
The most spectacular aspects of this railway track are the bridges that resemble Roman Aqueducts showcasing engineering brillance,with the longest of them extending for 2.8 Kilometers. Its beautiful arched galleries, tunnels, and the numerous mellifluous station en route Shimla, lend much character to the railway line.
Historically,the strategic and political importance of importance of Shimla wouldn’t have been seized if not for the establishment of this narrow gauge railway line. The train locomotive would primarily provide quick and efficient transportation to the dignitaries visiting the British Summer Capital,Shimla
Engineers cut through the harsh mountainous topography by laying a 96 km long track from Kalka at sultry height of approx. 640 meters to a far more salubrious Shimla at a height of approx. 2060 meters – giving the Shimla Railway track an emblematic stature.
As a result of the difficult terrain,the course of the line was altered a number of times. In fact,it is believed that the course of the track was determine by a common laborer, named Balkhu. He would march for long tracks with the engineers and give directions as was communicated to him by the devtas (local deities) through lice in his head.
The planning and proposing of the line had begun as early as 1847. The British in Delhi wanted to escape the excessive summer heat, and found Shimla equivalent to the European temperatures.
And so the first regional survey was conducted in 1884 and another one in 1885. The Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company commenced work in 1889 and 9th November,1903 made history, for it opened traffic on the kalka Shimla Railway line.
The broad gauge line wound up at Kalka to let small train carriages take a thirty inch narrow gauge. The experience of the little train whistling and perforating through the picturesque countryside stimulated immense excitement,then and now.
Of the 103 tunnels, initially constructed,the longest tunnel,measuring one Kilometer was built at Barog, a significant stop over and the station midway between Shimla and Kalka. The station was named after engineer Barog,who met a tragic end.
He built a tunnel,the two ends of which could not meet . His failure lead to the imposition of a fine Rs. 1,which became so unbearable that Barog shot himself while on a walk with his dog.
Interestingly when the train began operations, passengers went through “plague inspection”, just short of Shimla,to prevent pestilence from reaching the Capital. At Tara Devi,they would register all their details. Authorities were so vigilant that each passenger also underrwent fumigation
Even today,journey abroad the train is delightful and reminiscent of the old-world charm and magnificence.it does take few hours longer than road (6-7 hours) to cover a distance of 97km,but watching the magnificent mountain ranges as you pass keeps you asking for more.
|Type of Seat||Remarks|
|72451||Rail Motor||5.10am||9.50am||FC – First Class||Temporary Train|
|52457||KLK SML Pass||4.00am||9.20am||FC – First Class||Regular Train|
|52451||Shivalk Dlx Exp||5.30am||10.15am||CC – Chair Car||Regular Train|
|52453||KLKA SIMLA Exp||6.00am||11.05am||FC – First Class
|52455||HIMALAYAN QUEEN||12.10am||17.20pm||CC – Chair Car||Regular Train|