Shimla 2,250 metres (7,380 ft.), also spelt "Simla" is a beautiful hill station, is the capital town of Himachal Pradesh and it lies in the North Western part of Himalayas, in the North India. This beautiful hill station is situated on a transverse spur of the Central Himalayas and is also considered as the gateway to Central Himalayas and Greater Himalayas.
The mysterious charm of this paradise beckons those who are eager to explore forbidden lands, and meet the people steadfastly protecting their old tradition and culture with a vibrant religion. It is one of the best starting points for Jeep Safari Tours and many Treks into the Greater Himalayas. During the time of British Raj (rule) in India, Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy of India, decided to take the trouble of moving the administration twice a year between Calcutta and Simla over 1,000 miles away and declared Simla the summer capital of India in 1864.
The Kalka–ShimlaToy Railway Line (narrow gauge line - 2 feet 6 inches), was built to makes an easy approach to Simla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj. The idea of a railway line to Shimla dates back to the introduction of railways in India (16 April 1853). In the Delhi gazette, a correspondent in November 1847 sketched the route of a railway to Simla with estimates of the traffic, returns etc. in appropriate style. He wrote: “We might then see these cooler regions become the permanent seat of a government daily invigorated by a temperature adapted to refresh an European constitution and keep the mental powers in a state of health alike beneficial both to the rulers and the ruled.”
Survey for a railway line to Shimla featured in the administrative reports of the Indian railways year after year. It is interesting to note that the Shimla line was the most surveyed line. The earliest survey was made in 1884 followed by another survey in 1885. Based on these two surveys, a project report was submitted in 1887 to the government of British India. Lengthy debates followed and finally an adhesion line was chosen in preference to the rack system.
Prior to construction of the railway to Simla, connection with the outside world was by the help of horse carts, ox carts, ponies etc. The road from Kalka to Shimla came to be used for, wheeled traffic by the year 1860.
This railway line was constructed by the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company, after a contract was signed between the secretary of state and the company on June 29, 1898. As per the contract, the rail line was to be built without any pecuniary aid or guarantee from the government. The land was, however, provided free of charge to the company. The estimated cost of INR 86,78,500, doubled during execution of the project. The line measuring 59.44 miles from Kalka to Shimla was opened for trains on November 9, 1903 during the Viceroyalty of Lord Curzon. Because of peculiar working conditions-high capital cost coupled with high maintenance cost-Kalka Shimla railway was allowed to charge higher fare compared to the prevailing fare for other rail lines in the plains. By 1904, a total of INR 1,65,25,000 was spent and the company was in a serious financial crisis. On representation of the company, The British India Government had to purchase it on January 1, 1906 for INR 1,71,07,748.
In the starting the trains were run by the help of the locomotives (steam engines) and there were only four coaches at that time, but with the time period now a days the locomotives are replaced by the diesel engines and there are 6 -7 coaches joined to the engines. The first locomotives arrived from the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in 1901. Later on the locomotives were constructed by the two main British firms Sharp Stewart and Company and the second one was the Hunslet and the North British Locomotive Company (1902 to 1910). The old locomotive can be still seen in a yard in Kalka railway station.
"The Greatest Narrow Gauge Engineering Feat in India"
Going back to year 1903, it is an engineering marvel. The narrow gauge line (2 feet 6 inches), measuring 59.44 miles from Kalka to Shimla was opened for trains on November 9, 1903 during the Viceroyalty of Lord Curzon. It is one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes still operating in India.
On leaving Kalka, 656 meters (2,152 ft) above sea level, the railway enters the foothills and slowly commences its climb to Shimla railway station 2,076 meters (6,811 ft). It takes 5 hrs of journey to reach Shimla, as the speed of the train remains between 15 - 20 kms per hrs.
From Kalka to Shimla there are 18 railway stations, with crossing facilities and train stops at some of the stations to give way to the trains from the other side. There are 103 tunnels on the way (one is not in use; so only 102 in service). The longest tunnel is tunnel No. 33, which is 1143 metres (3,750 feet) long, famous after the Chief Engineer Barog, and is associated with local tales and legends related to its realization.
According to the tale Mr. Barog the chief engineer for the railways, was working for this tunnel from both ends and the tunnel have to meet in the middle. But by misfortune he did not succeed and got fail in his job. The company makes a fine of Rs. 1 (one) to him. He feels himulated to that and committed suicide in the hills near the tunnel. He was buried at the same place. Later on another tunnel was built by newly appointed chief engineer of railways Mr. H.S. Harrington. The same tunnel and a railway station near it were named Barog. This tunnel is the longest and the straightest tunnel on the track. It situated 900 feet below the main road.
Another famous tunnel is tunnel No. 10. Its 750 metres long and is known as "Koti Tunnel" after the Koti railway station.
The line has 864 small and big bridges. 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. 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. It has 919 curves, the sharpest being 48 degrees (a radius of 37.47 m or 122.93 feet).
On 07 July 2008, it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mountain railways of India. A couple of deluxe and ordinary trains (4 - 5 trains) a day, takes passengers from Kalka to Shimla and the same number of train bring them back to Kalka everyday. Another interesting feature is the Rail Motor Car of 1927 vintage- which was specially used for the travelling of Viceroys (Governor General) from Kalka to Shimla and it had the unique distinction of bringing Mahatma Gandhi in 1945 to Shimla to attend the Shimla Conference for talks with Viceroy Wavell about British plans for leaving India.
Another important aspect of this track is its age-old communication system, which is still in vogue. The telephones being used by the stations are block phones and the control phone system, the former establish links between two stations while the latter keeps in touch with other important stations. The token system, lanterns, which were used to give various safety and warning signals to the trains during the British regime, are to date in operation.
The route offers a panoramic feast of the picturesque country sides and the foothills of Himalayas (Shivalik ranges). The scenery along the whole route is one of most magnificent character of your journey. Throughout its length of approximately 60 miles (96 kms- 5 hrs), the line runs in a continuous succession of the valleys and spurs, flanking mountains rising high with its extraordinary feat of engineering skills and popularity of the Shimla hill railways generate a lot of interest in travellers a lot of more than any other cause, contributed to the speedy development of Shimla. So do not miss the train ride, itineraries can be planned where you can have a 2-3 hrs of a train ride to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience, which we would be glad to arrange for you..!
Railway stations with the distance.
Kalka 0 kms > Taksal 6 kms > Gumman 11 kms > Koti 17 km > Sonwara 27 kms > Dharampur 33 kms > Kumarhatti 39 kms > Barog 43 kms > Solan 47 kms > Salogra 53 kms > Kandaghat 59 kms > Kanoh 65 kms > Kathleeghat 73 kms > Shoghi 78 kms > Taradevi 85 kms > Jatogh 90 kms > Summer Hill 93 kms > Shimla 96 kms