A ride on one the heritage mountain railways transports you back to an era gone by.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty was built by the British in 1908. It was operated by then Madras Railway, and to this day operates from Mettupalayam in Coimbatore distract to Ooty in Nilgiris district covering a distance of 46 kilometers with 10 stops at quaint and pretty railway stations.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. This railway line is the steepest track in Asia with a maximum gradient of 8.33%.
The railway operates on the rack-and-pinion system, designed by Swiss locomotive engineer Roman Abt.
A steam engine pulls up the train from Mettupalayam to Coonoor and from Coonoor a diesel engine pulls the train through the mountain terrain to Ooty.
When you buy a 12 rupee old style ticket and hop on to the train bagging a window seat, you are assured of a treat of fantastic landscape whizzing past you.
You feel like freezing every single scene.
When the train turns, it is fun to peep out of the window and catch a glimpse of the engine huffing and puffing uphill and the bogies following suit. These engines are six to eight decades old.
As the train negotiates 250 bridges and 16 tunnels you come across beautiful valleys, tea estates, 108 curves, and small villages.
Mist plays hide-and-seek and the crisp cool Mountain air prepares you for a cup of hot tea and snacks at the destination station.
Shahrukh Khan and Malaika Arora Khan gyrated to the famous song Chaiyya Chaiyya on this very heritage train.
Railway stations that the rail passes through are:
0 km Mettupalayam – 1,069 feet ASL
8 km Kallar – 1,260 feet ASL – Closed
13 km Adderly – 2,390 feet ASL – Closed
18 km Hillgrove – 3,580 feet ASL – Closed
21 km Runneymede – 3,580 feet ASL – refreshments for passengers are available
25 km Kateri Road – 5,070 feet ASL
28 km Coonoor – 5,616 feet ASL
29 km Wellington – 5,804 feet ASL
32 km Aruvankadu – 6,144 ft feet ASL
38 km Ketti – 6,864 feet ASL
42 km Lovedale – 7,694 feet ASL
46 km Ooty – 7,228 feet ASL
The other heritage mountain railway are as follows:
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Type of place: Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Situated: Nilgiri Mountains
Distance: Ooty is 120 Km (shorter route via Masinagudi) and 155 Km (longer route via Gudalur) from Mysore and, 146 Km from Calicut, 100 Km from Coimbatore, 295 Km from Bangalore, 240 Km from Kodaikanal.
Transport: Railway stations at Ooty and Coonoor are well connected by road
Facilities: Tea and snack shops in the railway station