Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nilgiri Mountain Railway – Go for a Joy Ride on this heritage train

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, one of the oldest mountain railways in India connects Mettupalayam to the hill station of Ooty. The entire journey is a spectacle in itself as this rack railway system chugs along the slopes of the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India.

During my recent trip to the Nilgiris, I decided to revive some of my childhood memories by going on a joy ride in this heritage train.

The initial plan was to go from Ooty right up to Mettupalayam, but since the services from Coonoor to Mettupalayam were temporarily closed, me and my friends ended up going only from Ooty to Coonoor on this toy train.

We arrived at the Ooty railway station at 11:00 am, stood in the ticket counter for about 30 minutes and got ourselves general class tickets that cost about three rupees per head.

First class tickets that cost seventy five rupees per head are also available on this train, but since the number of first class seats are very limited, they got sold out very quickly.

This entire heritage train has about 5 compartments and out of which one is first class and the rest are all general compartments. There are no rest rooms on the train.

The train, from the inside, is really like a toy train, and tall people like me will find the seats pretty cramped. Hence, I renounced my seat and preferred to stand for the entire journey that lasted about an hour.

Since I was standing, I could easily get down at all the railway stations that came enroute from Udagamandalam and Coonoor. These stations were Lovedale, Ketty, Aruvankadu and Wellington.

These stations were quite different from the ones at Ooty and Coonoor. They were relatively calm and peaceful and only a few people could be seen standing on the platform. Also, the large pine trees that surround these stations make for a very serene experience.

The journey in itself was great. The bridges, the tall pine trees, the lovely hill views, the terraced plantations, the wild flowers and the overall feeling of chugging along through such pristine beauty is a fabulous experience.

Upon reaching Coonoor, me and my friends reached an unanimous decision that we would wait for a while and do a photo shoot of this heritage train during its next journey.

So, off we went on a short climb on the railway track to set ourselves up on a nice curve from where we could get decent photographs of the entire train.

The wait was fairly short before the train left on its next trip and started climbing up from Coonoor to Ooty. Soon, the photo shoot was over and all of us left as a happy bunch to explore the other parts of Coonoor.

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