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Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in India

The railway that inspired Wes Anderson and gave us the wonderful 'Darjeeling Limited'

Best time: March–May | October–mid-December

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

This legendary railway could have been fictional, but it actually exists! The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first hill railway in India and it still works. This narrow gauge railway connects Darjeeling and Siliguri, and it's sometimes called the 'toy train'. Since its construction back in the middle of the 19th century, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has become an essential part of the region's identity, along with tea growing and Gurkha.

The railway is also sometimes called 'the train to the clouds' since it's the highest railway in India and is among the highest in the world. Because of the steepness of the route, the railway has a lot of loops and 'zig-zags'. There are places where it runs right through the towns and villages so passengers have an opportunity to see local life up close. It also offers some wonderful views of the mountains and tea plantations during the ride. In 1999 the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since the railway is located in the Himalayas, winters can be a little harsh there. So it's best to visit between March–May and October—mid-December for a better visibility and accessibility to the attractions. It's better to avoid the period June to September due to the frequent rain showers.

You can take the DHR from Darjeeling to Ghum, Kurseong, Siliguri Junction, and New Jalpaiguri. Just make sure to purchase the correct tickets and catch the right train!

Practical info

What sets the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway apart from other train rides in India?

The narrow gauge railway, popularly known as the 'toy train', and the scenic location of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at the top of the Himalayas make it unique. Passengers get to see amazing landscapes, including tea plantations and the towns and villages the train passes by. The train is one of the steepest routes in the world, featuring numerous loops and zig-zags, which make it a thrilling experience worth the trip. Show more

What is the most appropriate month to visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, and why?

The ideal months to visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway are March-May and October-mid-December because the weather is pleasant, and visibility to the attractions is better. The summer-like weather in March-May is ideal for roaming outside, while the October-mid-December season provides a refreshing change due to the slight dip in temperature. Visitors should avoid the monsoon season from June to September, as it can block accessibility to attractions and hinder visibility due to the frequent rain showers. Show more

Are there any opportunities to see the tea plantations during the train ride?

Yes, passengers aboard the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway have an opportunity to see the beautiful tea plantations during the trip. The train passes through some of the tea-growing areas, offering vast panoramic views of the tea gardens around the mountainsides. This spectacular view is a highlight of the train ride and a unique experience that passengers remember long after the journey. Show more

What are the stops on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway route?

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has four primary stops - Siliguri Junction, Kurseong, Ghum, and New Jalpaiguri. The train stations are conveniently located in the town areas, making it accessible to the local community. Besides these stations, the railway passes through various small hamlets and villages where the train stops briefly, allowing passengers to take in the beautiful scenery and landscapes. Show more

Is there anything a foreign tourist must think about before boarding the train?

Foreign tourists wishing to ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway need to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, it is advisable to purchase tickets from authorized agents to avoid falling victim to fraudulent scams. Secondly, pack comfortable clothing that suits the weather conditions and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Lastly, it is highly recommended to book accommodations in advance since Darjeeling receives a high volume of tourists, which may overcrowd facilities in peak seasons. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych