About Me

My photo
I am collecting Indian Heritage and culture related vintage postcards, paintings, prints etc. and exhibited them at several locations across India in various events and also sharing them with school and college children by giving presentations to them on Indian Heritage and Culture with my collections and also documenting puppetry etc. intangible performances.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Kalka Shimla Railway (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

The Kalka–Shimla Railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow guage railway in North-West India travelling along a mostly mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla. It is known for breathtaking views of the hills and surrounding villages.


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.
The route offers a panoramic feast of the picturesque Himalayas from the Sivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Totu (Jutogh), Summerhill and Shimla at an altitude of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft). Interestingly, all the 20 intermediate stations are located right next to bridges, built for the labour constructing the bridges to take rest there. Some of these have now been abandoned being uanviable. 


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.
The longest tunnel is at Barog and is associated with local tales and legends. As per a famous story of Colonel Barog, the engineer of this tunnel, had committed suicide here. He started digging the tunnel from both ends and could not align them. So he was fined 1 rupee. He could not stomach up that stigma so shot himself in the incomplete tunnel, which still exists. Chief Engineer H.S. Herlington completed it after the way for constructing this was earmarked by Bhalku, a local sadhu (monk), during 1900- 1903.

The above text courtesy from the website of wikipedia.org

Kalka Shimla Heritage Toy train

THE Kalka-Shimla rail route, which has completed 100 years offers the charm of old-world travel amidst lofty pines and lush green, misty mountains. This is one of the four narrow gauge rail routes on hill terrain in the country, the other three being the Darjeeling , Ooty and Pathankot - Jogindernagar routes. In fact, the Darjeeling route was used as a model for the Kalka-Shimla route, which was proposed in 1891. 
Started during the reign of Lord Curzon in November 1903, this rail route features in the Guinness Book of World Records for offering the steepest rise in altitude in the space of 96 kilometers. More than two-thirds of the track is curved, sometimes at angles as sharp as 48 degrees. 

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.
Flanked by hills on both sides, the rail line, like twin threads  of silver, clings to the steep cliffs and ventures boldly over bridges, built over tiny streams that show off their radiance in the sunlight. The cool breeze sweeps across your face as the train makes an arduous climb of almost 4800 feet from Kalka to Shimla in almost five hours.

The rail journey

The rail line begins its climb almost immediately after its departure from the Kalka railway station. 
The toy train chugs along the line, whistling through the deodar, pine, ficus, oak and maple woods at a speed of 22 km an hour. As the journey begins, one is taken in with the change in vegetation, and the majestic glory of the railway stations and Gothic-style bridges en route.
The most refreshing part of the journey is the experience of sitting by the window, breathing in the cool breeze and taking in the greenery, smell of fresh dew on the vegetation, the chirping of birds and the sight of cattle grazing around the track, especially if you are travelling in either of the two early morning toy trains.

Quick Facts

Train Gauge - Narrow (762mm)
Track Length - Over 96 Km
Project Launched in - 1901
Project 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
Total change of altitude : From Kalka, 655 meters (2,150 ft) to Shimla of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft).
The first main station is at Dharampur, at a height of 4,900 feet and at a distance of 20 miles from Kalka.  The gradient here is very steep, and in order to achieve the flatter gradients required by the Railways, the line develops into three loops at Taksal, Gumman and Dharampur.  After leaving Dharampur, the rail line gains on the road route by taking short cuts and tunnels so that up to Tara Devi, the distance by rail from Kalka is almost one-fourth mile less than the distance by road.
Twenty four miles from Kalka, the railway line is 5,200 feet above sea, where it falls to 4,900 feet at Solan, and further to 4,667 feet at Kandaghat (36-and-a half miles from Kalka), where the final ascent to Shimla starts. The rail line goes through Shoghi and from Tara Devi, the rail line goes round the Prospect Hill to Jatogh, winding in a series of curves round Summer Hill and burrows under the Inverarm Hill to emerge below the road on the south side of Inverarm, and thus reaches Shimla. 

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.

Multi-arched galleries like ancient Roman aqueducts have been used to take the tracks over the difficult terrain, which would otherwise have been difficult to cover. These stone masonry arched bridges, which use lime stone, have as many as four storey's, each story having an arch and each arch having a different configuration.
Most of the 102 tunnels (the 1930’s renumbering, with numbers going up to 103, has not been changed till date though tunnel number 46 does not exist any more) too have a history of their own. An interesting feature about these tunnels is that till today, whenever these tunnels have to be illuminated for maintenance, plain mirrors are used to catch the sunlight and reflect this light inside the tunnel.

The above text courtesy from the website of sunrisevilla.in website.

Kalka-Shimla Railway

The Kalka-Shimla Railway built to connect, the summer capital of India in 1903 at an altitude of 2076 meters offers a panoramic feast 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.

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.

The above text courtesy from the website of shimla-travel.com


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.

Below is another vintage post card of this Kalka Shimla Railway route with the text on the post card as "Principal Station, Barogh, Halt for refreshments". This is Barogh railway statation post card. This post card printed in England.

This is another vintage post card of mine of this Kalka Shimla railway route. This post card has contains text and image as "Train Coming out of the Longest Tunnel, Barogh". This Barogh tunnel vintage post card printed in Germany.

This is Train coming on the Lope, Simla vintage post card. This post card printed in Saxony.

1 comment:

  1. Kalka Shimla railways are one of the nice thing which the tourist like to enjoy in the days of vacation. I like the most beautiful lines which you have given in the midst of us. This will make the the tourist to get more things to learn from here. It is the nice place which the couples can choose this place to celebrate the honeymoon in prosperous ways.