My journey begins at the New Delhi station, I am early here by about 3 hours my connecting made it on time and I got to the station 3 hours early rather than loitering around Delhi and ne which ways time is 5:30 am, so without getting into any trouble I head into the station and take a long long walk from the Ajmeri Gate side to the platform number 1, I hear trains being announce that reach my destination before mine, I have butterflies in my stomach but decide to sick to the train I have opted to take.
I settle down on a bench on platform number 1 and waited, long wait and suddenly some1 made a revelation that the train now comes on platform number 2, with all my luggage in hand and I mean luggage I am on a long trip so 3 pieces and big ones I head to platform number 2 and the revelation becomes a reality, they are reading up for the train to come.
I again wait for the train to come and then get on the moment it is there, luggage in place I get usual requests for change of seat so others can sit together, I adjust myself next to a sweet old Punjabi lady after fulfilling peoples requests for change of seat and the train starts with the usual snacking and munching given in the train, I am heading to SHIMLA Via Kalka. I m excited taking the small toy train to Shimla from Kalka, the time of departure for the HIMALAYA QUEEN train from Kalka is 12:10 and the Shatabdi from Delhi reaches around 11:30 that was cutting it too close for comfort for me, I am a very edgy traveler and need time adequate time between trains to be in a comfortable position. In the train I ask the waiters the exact time and tell them my situation and every1 I as ask assures me that do not worry the Himalaya Queen does not leave before the Shatabdi arrives as most of the passengers are in the Shatabdi, I understand the Indian railway system now, dependent trains, I give a smile and rest assured I am going to make my connection and that too with time to spare. I am taking this train called the HIMALAYAN QUEEN which originates from Delhi as a big train but joins into a smaller train at Kalka; I did could not make the train from Delhi so I decided to take the Shatabdi to Kalka and then join the Toy train there.
We chug into Kalka exactly around 11:50, I am already at the door with my bags and get off the moment train stops and head on to the smaller platform to the Toy Train, I am in C2 my seat number is 23, I ask a police women where the train was parked and she was glad to help me with the directions, I reach my compartment and look at the chart and find my name there, this train is in literal terms a TOY TRAIN, everything is half the dimension of the bigger trains, a single compartment can take in only 30 people with their luggage, let me add if u have big bags then the floor or behind the main door is the only option for u to put yr bags, lucky for me the train was empty only around 12 people in the compartment so I placed my luggage on the seat and settled into my seat again requests to change my seat to accommodate an entire family who had different seat numbers, the engine is now a diesel engine to there is more power, there r about 10 bogies in the train so a total of 300 people can make the journey at 1 time, I settle down on a window seat and bring out my camera, I have heard great reviews of this train, this train was also made famous by a hit Hindi movie called JAB WE MET, the train blows its horn indicating its departure and starts to move, slowly at 1st and then begins to pick up speed, we pass through beautiful mountain side sceneries, farms, roads, tunnels and beautiful mountain greet us on our journey, here there are spectacular stations that fall enroute, this railway was an engineering feat and was done in the time of the British Raj some numbers are Kalka Shimla Railway runs through 103 tunnels, the line has 864 bridges. The railway has a ruling gradient of 1 in 25 or 4%. It has 919 curves, the sharpest being 48 degrees (a radius of 37.47 m or 122.93 feet). Climbing from 656 meters (2,152 ft), the line terminates at an elevation of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft) at Shimla. The stations that fall enroute are Dharampur – Kumarhatti – Barog – Solan – Salogra – Kandaghat – Taradevi – Jutogh -Summer Hill – Shimla, the train leaves at 12:10 pm and reaches Shimla by 17:15 for 96 klms it takes a good 5 hours and the fare is around Rs.167 but it is totally worth it and u can book tickets online on ITCTC now and the train runs on all days even on Sundays.
The hours on my watch tick by and we start to climb ever higher, bridges, tunnels and stations go by and I start to get excited, the stations are sweet and beautiful, I snap photos at every given opportunity and go to and fro my seat to snap photos all across the compartment, sometimes at the door, sometimes from the window, I m also counting the tunnels we pass through a total of 103 are enroute so if u r nearing that number u know u r close to Shimla, we pass through tunnel number 100 and I know we r a few minutes away from Shimla, I pack away my camera and get my bags ready, we pull into Shimla around 17:35 and the sun is already behind the mountain and the stations is covered in a pink hue of evening light, splendid, I grab my bags and begin my long walk to outside of the station to catch my taxi to my hotel.i take a few moments to stand at the platform to look at the beauty around
This journey has made me more energetic and rejuvenation, train journeys to people are tiring and strenuous but to me this 1 was very fulfilling, I have always wanted to make this journey ever since I read about it in a travel magazine having done it I recommend it to be put on your things to do before I die list for sure and make sure u do it atleast once in your lifetime.