Slowly and smoothly she sways and slips into the forests, rattles on the bridges and glides next to the roads, rivers and lakes. On those never-ending tracks, the train takes us to places faraway. She takes you through tunnels and over the bridges.
The transitions are magnificent and touch your heart. From lush green meadows to shiny golden deserts, from a calm lake to flowing rivers, from the setting of sun to the rising of moon you can witness all of this and more.
Train travel is a big way of life for people in urban India. Indians, hence, have a special connection with trains. Every vacation can be associated with a train journey long or short and a vacation to some hill station has always been in our lists.
With the largest rail network in the world, India surely has a lot of routes to offer. Have you ever thought of taking a train ride to the hills? This time ditch the road and board a train to Shimla from Kalka. The English-style unusual toy train to Shimla is smaller than the usual. It comes under the world heritage list of UNESCO and occupies fourth rank in it. This tiny train takes five to six hours to reach Shimla and passes by beautiful towns and villages of Himachal like Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Totu and Summer Hill.
The beautiful slow-paced train takes you on curvaceous routes to the queen of hills and lets you relish the scenic beauty all around. It passes through 102 tunnels with Barog being the longest. It is the straightest tunnel in the world.
There is an interesting story about Barog which is told by the locals and surely gives goosebumps to the listeners. During the British Raj, an engineer named Colonel Barog was assigned the task to construct a tunnel. He personally dug from both the ends of the tunnel but failed to align them with each other. He was fined with One Rupee by the then British Government. He could not handle this humiliation and killed himself inside the tunnel. The place got its name from him and it is said that his spirit haunts the tunnel. He is known to be the happy ghost and some locals have shared their experiences of having a light hearted small talk with him. He is known to greet those who pass through the tunnel walking.
The cool fresh wind gives the ‘pahaadi’ (hilly) feels as you gaze at the tall mountains in shades of green and blue. Moving through the pine trees and forests you can feel the temperature transition as you reach higher altitudes slowly and gradually. Cool breeze and sun shining bright at the same time is rare and gives one of the best stimuli to your senses.
Every railway station that falls on the route has a unique essence of that place which is portrayed by their architecture. You will find kids with their school bags walking next to the track smiling and waving at you as the train passes by. The warmth with which the locals greet and welcome you makes you fall in love with the place a little more, each time.