toy train journeys in india: tea estate travel

In the last week there have been two really great pieces written about some of the great Toy Train rail journey in India, and the tea estates and farms you can see along the way.

toy train - india. photo creative commons by girish gopi

This piece from Lonely Planet by Amelia Thomas:
“Arriving in New Jalpaiguri, it is still a three hour drive up to the Himalayan tea plantation of Darjeeling, spread out alluringly along a steep mountain ridge. Alternatively, the voyage can also be undertaken  (by the indomitable family) by a seven-hour ride on Darjeeling’s famous ‘toy train,’ along tracks so tightly squeezed between the lanes of mountain villages that residents must take in their washing-lines to allow the train to puff by. If, however, life on the rails has begun to lose some of its lustre, arrange for a stay at Glenburn Tea Estate, an idyllic working tea plantation an hour’s drive from Darjeeling. If you do, you will find yourself and your weary charges picked up by a uniformed driver, escorted to a comfortable jeep, and whisked up into the hills in style.”

photo creative commons by zimit via flickr

The second one was published in The Guardian Ten top Indian rail journeys by Monisha Rajesh.
“Darjeeling’s tiny steam train was initially built as a tramway to exploit the difference in the price of potatoes between Darjeeling and Siliguri, and the hill railway is now considered a World Heritage Site. Travelling at a speed of 12kmph, the Toy Train trundles through dense forests, curving around tea plantations and bringing you as close as possible to the tea-pickers with baskets strapped on their heads. Famous for its reverses, loops and the spiral at Agony Point, the railway line eventually criss-crosses the main road through the town and runs alongside the fruit stalls in the street. Above all, if it’s a clear day, you should see the snow-capped tip of Kanchenjunga.”

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