The Kalka Shimla railway line is a great achievement of human ingenuity. The Kalka-Shimla Railway built to connect, the summer capital of India in 1903 at an altitude of 2213 meters. The Kalka Shimla Railway line is one of the most popular hill railways in India. The trains running on these tracks are popularly called ‘Toy Trains’.
This toy train journey starts from Kalka, a town in its neighboring state, Haryana and ends in the magnificent Shimla. The Kalka –Shimla Railway is a narrow gauge railway that covers a distance of 96km. This 96-kms long railway track is built over 889 short to long bridges and passes through 102 tunnels in the foothills of the Himalayas. This railway line offers steep rise in altitude in the space of 96 kilometers between Kalka station (656 mtrs) and Shimla station (2076 mtrs). The line has as many as 919 curves,the sharpest being 48 degrees.
The train ride from Shimla to Kalka takes 5 to 6 hours at a leisurely pace of 25 km/h. This might seem slow to us today but in 1903 it was a vast improvement, as it took at least a couple of days to travel the same distance back then. The track has been active for all these years and proves that when the British build something they build it to last.
There are many stories related to this track including ghosts, suicides and giant snakes.
Colonel Barog and Tunnel 33
Barog Tunnel at 1144 meters is the longest tunnel on the route and appears just before the Barog Station. This tunnel was named after Mr.Barog, who started the digging of this tunnel, but only to commit a mistake. He started the digging of the tunnels from the both end simultaneously to only realized that these two ends were not aligned. The British government fined him INR 1 for wasting government time and money. Barog was upset by this humiliation and shot dead himself one day during the morning walk. Later the tunnel was completed by Chief Engineer H.S. Harrington with the help of local ascetic Bhalku. This tunnel is today’s Barog tunnel even though it is completely different from the failed tunnel of Colonel Barog. The small town of Barog owes its name to the same gentleman.
The Ghost of Tunnel 103
Tunnel 103 is the last tunnel towards Shimla at the end of the line. It is believed to be haunted by a British gentleman’s ghost who likes chatting up individuals passing by the tunnel. Other ghosts, spirits and paranormal activities have also been observed near tunnel 103. Some talk about a woman wearing a black sari and carrying a malnourished baby.
Started in 1903, this 110 year old engineering marvel is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Darjeeling and Nilgiri Mountain Railways. This rail route features in the Guinness Book of World Records for offering the steepest rise in altitude in the space of 96 kilometers.