To mark World Heritage Day, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Preservation Society, in association with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), on Wednesday organised a free Toy Train ride for more than 50 children from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back.
Officials said the idea was to make the children and the people aware of the rich heritage that the train has. The DHR started services in the 1880s during the British rule, and was conferred heritage status by UNESCO in 1999.
“Wednesday is World Heritage Day, and with UNESCO declaring the DHR as a world heritage, we decided to mark the day by holding this programme where we gave children here from different schools a ride in the Toy Train. We wanted to make them aware of how life in the Hills is involved with the train as it was started by our forefathers,” Suraj Sharma, the executive member of the DHRPS, said.
“Trains in other places join one place to another, but the train here joins the hearts of the people. With this type of programme, we also want to make people involved in the conservation of the train,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that the DHRPS was formed this year with local DHR enthusiasts working for its conservation. Wednesday ‘s joy ride, which started in the morning, had children from classes five to seven and belonging to schools like Maharani Girls Higher Secondary School, Bethany and Ghoom Girls School, while the toy train was decorated with balloons.
They were also given a tour of the Toy Train Museum at Ghoom, while a cake was cut at the Railway Station in Darjeeling. A drawing competition with the theme on the Toy Train was one of the events held for the children.
“This is the first time that I took a ride in the Toy Train and enjoyed every moment of it. It was fun with us singing all the way through,” said Sanjila Thami, a student of class seven from the Maharani School.
Presently, the DHR has 13 steam engines, including the “B” class 779 engines that date back to 1889 and 1927, of which, seven are in running condition. It also has six diesel engines at its disposal.