India has mesmerized the imagination of the domestic tourists in general and international tourists in special with its railway network ranking second largest in the world. The unique part of this Indian Railway network is its provision of hill stations tours by trains. Some of these hill station trains are also known as Toys Trains of India. However, India has over 63,000 Km of track laid between 7000 stations divided into 9 Zones – Western, Central, Eastern, Northern, North Eastern, Northeast Frontier, Southern, South Central and South Eastern.
1. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) connects the plains of West Bengal at New Jalpaiguri with the hill station of Darjeeling. On the way, it passes the most breathtaking scenery and climbs to a height of 7400 feet at Ghum (the highest station in India and the second highest in the world), from where glimpses of the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga are visible on clear days.
2. The Kangra Valley Railway
No one could have thought of making a finer selection of territory for building a new mountain railway in India than the Kangra valley. Few places can match this scenic region in the sub-Himalayas. One will stumble across a land that has cast its magic spell upon those who planned the railway and those who built the line. The Kangra Valley Railway presents to the traveler, a chance to gaze as long as he likes on the ever present panorama of snow-clad ranges and the gold green fields without being swung round every few minutes can greet the scenery. March and April are the best months to visit the valley when it is covered with wild Rambler Roses, Oleanders, Rhododendron and fruit blossoms.
3. Kalka – Shimla Railway
The Kalka-Shimla Railway with 96.54 kilometer line offers a panoramic experience to experience the grandeur of the picturesque Himalayas from the Shivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Summerhill, Shimla and beyond up to the silvery snow line near the towering peaks. It runs through 102 tunnels, 864 bridges, only one of which is a 60 feet plate girder span and a steel truss. The others are viaducts with multi-arched galleries like the ancient Roman aqueducts.
4. Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), the only rack railway in India and uses Abt system, connects the town of Mettupalayam with the hill station of Udagamandalam, in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. Both towns are in the state of Tamil Nadu. Snaking through 16 tunnels and tall girder bridges, the climb offers breathtaking vistas of plantation and fir-clad hills.
5. Matheran Light Railway
Matheran means "The Wooded Head" or the jungle topped. Over its length of 19.97 kilometers, there are 221 curves, the sharpest being 1270 equal to 18.25 m., 121 bridges, only one tunnel and a steep winding gradient. Neral, the starting station of this line, falls near midway on the Mumbai-Pune route of the central railway. The journey up to Matheran from Neral takes about one-and-a-half hours.