Shimla (then spelt Simla) was settled by the British shortly after the first Anglo-Gurka war, and is located at 7,116 feet (2,169 m) in the foothills of the Himalayas. By the 1830s, Shimla had already developed as a major base for the British. It became the summer capital of British India in 1864, and was also the headquarters of the British army in India. Prior to construction of the railway communication with the outside world was via village cart.
The railway was constructed on a two foot gauge (610mm) by the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company commencing in 1898. The estimated cost of Rs 86,78,500, however, the cost doubled during execution of the project. The 96.54 km (59.99 mi) line was opened for traffic November 9, 1903. Because of the high capital and maintenance cost, coupled with peculiar working conditions, the Kalka–Shimla Railway was allowed to charge fares that were higher than the prevailing tariffs on other lines. However, even this was not good enough to sustain the company and the Government had to purchase it on January 1, 1906 for Rs 1,71,07,748. In 1905 the line was regauged to 2'6" gauge under guidelines from the Indian War Department seeking to ensure uniformity in all imperial narrow gauge systems.
In mid-August 2007, the government of Himachal Pradesh declared the railway a heritage property in preparation for its review in September.
On this route a city named Solan is passed through, which is also known as mini Shimla. During summer season a festival celebrating a goddess (Shoolini Devi), after which the city is named, is held in June.
For about a week starting on September 11, 2007, an expert team from UNESCO was on a visit to the railway to review and inspect the railway for possible selection as a World Heritage Site. On July 7, 2008, the Kalka–Shimla Railway was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the World Heritage Site Mountain Railways of India. The Mountain Railways of India (including Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway) and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai have already been declared as world heritage properties.
Kalka Railway Station
The Kalka–Shimla Railway was built to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the Indian rail system. Now, Shimla is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh and Kalka is a town in the Panchkula district of Haryana. Spectacular scenery along the whole route, and the marvels of its construction, keeps the traveler on this line spell bound. On leaving Kalka, 656 meters (2,152 ft) above sea level, the railway enters the foothills and immediately commences its climb.
Originally 107 tunnels were built on Kalka Shimla Railway Track. In 1930 they were renumbered and four of them were discarded so only 103 were left. In 2006 tunnel number 46 was dismantled so presently only 102 are in use. But tunnel number 103, the last tunnel in Shimla, is still famous as tunnel number 103 as this place has become a famous landmark of the town.
Kalka Shimla Heritage Toy train
Laid out on a 96 km long narrow gauge track that passes through 103 tunnels and across more than 800 bridges and viaducts, it is one of the most beautiful hill railways in India. It was considered the "crown jewel" of the Indian National Railways during British times.
The rail journey
|Train Gauge - Narrow (762mm)|
Track Length - Over 96 Km
Project Launched in - 1901Project Completed in - 1903
Train Service Commenced - November 9, 1903
Bridges - Over 800
Longest Bridge - Near Dharampur (70 m)
Tunnels - 103 (1 not in service)
|Longest Tunnel - Barog (1.1 Km)|
Maximum Height - above 2000 m above sea level
Curves - 900 (70% track is in curves)
Train - After 1965, hauled by Diesel Engine
Maximum Number of Coaches - Seven
Services - seven coach train and rail car
Heritage Sites - Four on last count Now in UNESCO world Heritage List
One of the most interesting features of the Kalka-Shimla route is the absence of girder bridges. There is only one 60-foot plate girder span in a pinewood near Dharampur and a steel trestle viaduct, which replaced a stone gallery in 1935. The remaining 866 bridges, representing three per cent of the line, carry the rail track over the ravines and between the hill spurs.
The 96.54 kilometer line, built on a 2 feet six inches gauge, was opened for traffic November 9, 1903.Because of the high capital and maintenance cost, coupled with peculiar working conditions, the Kalka - Shimla Railway was allowed to charge fares that were higher than the prevailing tariffs on other lines. However, even this was not good enough to sustain the company and the Government had to purchase it on January 1, 1906.
Spectacular scenery along the whole route, and the marvels of it's construction, keeps the traveler on this line spell bound. On leaving Kalka, 656 meters above sea level, the railway enters the foothills and immediately commences it's climb.
Kalka-Shimla-Railway runs through 102 tunnels, some of which have hoary tales to tell. For instance, the longest tunnel at Barog, named after the engineer in charge of construction, bears the blood of it's creator who apparently committed suicide after making a mistake in laying the alignment. This tunnel is 1143.61 meters long and remained the second longest tunnel on Indian Railways for a long time. It is a straight tunnel, passing through fissured sand stone.
Another tunnel at Taradevi, cutting through a hill on the peak of which is a famous temple, tells of the local superstition of the day that the Goddess would never permit it's construction. When construction was half through, great excitement arose from reported sightings of a huge serpent in the tunnel that had emerged to stop the work. Anti climatically the reptile turned out be a long iron pipe running along the tunnel to convey fresh air.
The section has 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.
Bridge No. 493, historically known as the "Arch Gallery", situated between Kandaghat and Kanoh stations, is an arch bridge in three stages, constructed with stone masonry that stands good even today. Bridge No. 226, between Sonwara and Dharampur is an arch gallery bridge having 5 tier galleries of multiple spans, constructed with stone masonry and bridging a deep valley surrounded by high peaks.
The railway has a ruling gradient of 1 in 25 with 919 curves, the sharpest being 48 degrees. Climbing from 656 meters, the line ends at 2076 meters at Shimla.
Road links for other scenic spots in these hills also take off from the Kalka - Shimla Railway. First, there is Kasauli, a British day cantonment town, small, quiet but picturesque. Home to a Louis Pasteur Institute that manufactures the anti-rabies vaccine and a Central Research Institute that makes vaccines against typhoid and cholera and antidotes against snake bite, Kasauli can be approached by road from Dharampur Station.
Below are the list of Stations in this Kalka-Shimla Railway route.
0 Km Kalka
6 Km Taksal
11 Km Gumman
17 Km Koti
27 Km Sonwara
33 Km Dharampur
39 Km Kumarhatti
43 Km Barog
47 Km solan
53 Km Salogra
59 Km Kandaghat
65 Km Kanoh
73 Km Kathleeghat
78 Km Shoghi
85 Km Taradevi
90 Km Totu (Jutogh)
93 Km Summer Hill
96 Km Shimla
In my collection i have some vintage post cards of this Kalka Shimla Railway route.
Below is my vintage post card with the image and text of The Highest Viaduct on the Kalka Shimla Railway route.
Below is my another vintage post card with the text of "One of the Big Galleries On the Line Near Dhorampur" of this Kalka Shimla Railway route. This vintage post card printed in Germany.