Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR)

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is one of the most charming mountain railways in India. A ride on this narrow gauge toy train, which is pulled by a vintage steam locomotive, is a must for all steam train enthusiasts.

Steam locomotive of DHR puffing its way

Steam locomotive of the toy train at Darjeeling puffing its way (2017)

Sitting so close to the steam locomotive ( we were in the first row of the coach next to the loco ) meant that I perfectly understood what puffing meant. Steam locomotive is the ultimate multimedia experience – sound, smoke, steam, water droplets, coal particles and the locomotion.

Shoving coal into the boiler of the steam locomotive

Shoving coal into the boiler of the steam loco (2017)

The sight of the coal fired boiler of the steam locomotive with its door open is a rare sight. The loco staff opens it before the journey to top it up with coal. It is the moment when the lid of the boiler is opened, that the sight of the yellow orange dancing flames make you realise the power they hold and will soon unleash to make this loco pull the coaches of the narrow gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Steam loco 805 at DHR loco shed, Darjeeling

Steam loco 805 at the loco shed of DHR, Darjeeling

Looking at the steam locos at the DHR loco shed was a fulfilling experience. The afternoon light ensured that the heavy metal of the locos stood out with the texture and shine of the surface making a huge statement. The red plate fitted on the blue coloured loco with 805 in copper colours created a distinct persona for this steam locomotive.

Getting the steam locomotives of DHR ready for the journey

Getting the steam locomotives of DHR ready for the journey

Getting ready the steam locomotives of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is an extremely elaborate and long drawn process. The preparations begin several hours prior to the journey. These locomotives are vintage and this means that the loco shed technicians and the drivers need to take extra care of these locos. Here these two beauties are being readied at the loco shed just outside Darjeeling railway station.

Train to NJP from Darjeeling has a short halt at Ghum station

Train to NJP from Darjeeling has a short halt at Ghum station

Since we had barely made it to Darjeeling station in time to board this train to New Jalpaiguri (part of DHR), the brief halt at Ghum allowed us to pick up something to eat and have chai.

Little girl at Ghum railway station

Little girl at Ghum railway station

The momos and chai at Ghum railway station tea stall were delivered with an unexpected bonus. This little girl, who was the granddaughter of the lady running the show, turned out to be a very expressive kid. I enjoyed my time at this tea stall playing with this little girl.

Schoolgirls at Darjeeling Railway station

Schoolgirls at Darjeeling railway station

We spent quite some time at Darjeeling railway station over few days that we were at Darjeeling. There was hardly a dull moment there. Although there are not many trains during the day, the platforms are rarely deserted.

More of Milind Vishwas Sathe’s photographs and blog posts