Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

History since 1881

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the first, and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger Railway. Open in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing and effect rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact. While Darjeeling was growing, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson was crusading his battle for railway extension in India. In 1849, he was able to extract favourable conditions including a guarantee of return on the capital. He promoted East Indian Railway Co. (EIR).

In 1858, Eastern Bengal Railway (EBR), a private company got concession for construction and management of Railway lines commencing from the left bank of Hooghly towards the Eastern and Northern part of Bengal, including a line to Darjeeling, but the directors were not willing to invest money in extensions including the one to Darjeeling as that might not be profitable. However, NBR(Northern Bengal State Railway) had no plan to take the rails to the hills, mainly because the hills were considered a formidable sphere. Where EBR and NBR failed as corporate organizations, Prestage succeeded, as an individual entrepreneur.

The Franklin Prestage, the agent of guaranteed Eastern Bengal Railway was fascinated by the ethereal views of Kanchenjunga floating in the mists of Darjeeling. When he took up the agent ship of EBR, the state owned Northern Bengal Railway was in advanced stage of construction of a line to Siliguri.

Franklin Prestage settled for a 2ft. rail gauge, and formed the Darjeeling Steam Tramway Co. with capital fully subscribed in India. On September 15, 1881, title of the company was changed to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Co. and this company remained effective until the line was taken over by the Indian Government on Oct.20, 1948. All through that time the line was managed by the agency of ‘Gillanders Arbuthnot and Co.’ which supervised from its Calcutta office the financial, legal and purchasing interests of DHR and of other small railways. A manager and engineer were stationed at Kurseong, while the mechanical superintendent was at Tindharia.

The Darjeeling line was built to a gauge of 2 feet (600mm) to enable the line to traverse the tightly twisting route through the hills. In 1886, though, the well tanks and under cylinder wings were retained, a narrow saddle tank was inserted between the dome and the chimney, partly to get increased water capacity and partly to get better balance between the axle loads with the pull on the draw bar. Regarding the Official opening date of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) are, from Siliguri to Kurseong is 23-08-1880, from Kurseong to Sonada 01-08-1881, Sonada to Jorebunglow 05-04-1881, Jorebunglow to Darjeeling 04-07-1881 and from Darjeeling to Darjeeling Bazar is 16-06-1886. Usually the construction stage, light engines are worked on the section much before the official date of opening.

The Ghoom Station is the highest point reached by the railway (7,407ft), and from here there is a descent for four miles down a spur to Darjeeling Station (6,812ft). Loops are the speciality of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway it helps in gaining height for the rail line skiting along the mountain with the radius of curve as minimum as possible. Loop No. 3 at Chunbhati km 23/14 between Rangtong and Chunbhati station is popularly known as Loop No.2 and technically it is the first loop now. This loop is double circle. Loop at Agony Point km.32 was between Tindharia and Gayabari stations existed and is popularly known as Loop no.3, though it is the second loop. The last loop near Batasia, popularly known as “Batasia Loop” is km.75/1. This loop is the most beautiful loop out of the existing loops. There are 132 unmanned level crossings in the route.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Extensions Company was authorized to construct a line from Panchanai to Kishanganj in the plains and another line to Kalimpong in the Sivok Mountains. These two sections are known as Kishjanganj Branch and Teesta Valley Branch respectively. Though no more connected by rail, Kalimpong could be reached by railway line from 1915 to 1951. These line was abandoned, a large sections of it were washed away after severe flood damaged in 1951.

Most of the steam engines in these days have been replaced by diesel electric or electric traction. Some narrow gauge lines still feature the old “iron horses”.DHR is a work of genius and technological achievement of 1881. It has social and cultural importance. It is beautiful and has out-standing universal appeal. As one of the outcomes of the Industrial revolution and based on its unique features, it is considered to be of lasting significance to mankind. It must be saved for posterity. These are all the criteria necessary for World Heritage.

National Rail Museum (India), the focus of India’s Rail heritage, submitted a proposal to UNESCO on 29th June 1998 for inscribing the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) as a World HERITAGE Site. Accordingly, UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee inscribed DHR as a World Heritage Site on 2nd December 1999. The DHR has popularly known by the name as ‘Toy Train’ which is in fact was never an official term it is just a popular expression found in literature.

World Heritage Status

Indian Railways in recognition of its social, cultural,economic and industrial value as a lifeline of India, made an application to UNESCO for World Heritage Inscription of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) in 1998.

The world heritage committee of UNESCO at its 23th session held at Marrakesh, Morocco decided to inscribe Darjeeling Himalaya Railway site on the world Heritage list.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed DHR as a World Heritage Site on 5th December 1999 stating the following reasons:

An outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on social & economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world. ( C(ii) )

The development of railways in the 19th century had a profound influence on social and economic developments in many parts of the world. This process is illustrated in an exceptional and seminal fashion by the DHR. ( C(iv) )

“The DHR is the first, and still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact.

Tourist Destination through Roof of the World

One of the most amazing engineering feats of the world, even more amazing about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is that it is fully operational even a century after it was built

“It is the most enjoyable day I have spent on earth.”

– Mark Twain, after a trip on DHR in 1896

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) connects the plains of West Bengal at New Jalpaiguri with the hill station of Darjeeling. On the way, it passes the most breathtaking scenery and climbs to a height of 7400 feet at Ghum (the highest station in India and the second highest in the world), from where glimpses of the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga are visible on clear days.

The history of the line goes back to 1878 when Franklin Prestage of the then Eastern Bengal Railway proposed a hill tramway of 2-foot gauge (610 mm) following the alignment of the Hill Cart Road to Darjeeling. Construction commenced the year after, the line being completed to Darjeeling in 1881. The legal and financial affairs of the company were put in the hands of managing agents and the reputable firm of Messrs Gillanders Arbuthnot and Co. of Calcutta were engaged.

Before the railway was built, a first-class road wound upwards to Darjeeling. In March 1878, a scheme for the construction of the railway was drawn up, and estimates and plans were submitted to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, who extended full support. The money for the enterprise was subscribed almost entirely in India. The Government undertook to maintain the cart-road, the route of which was to be followed by the railway, and guaranteed that. The cart-road, about forty miles long, some 25 feet wide, and metalled throughout, was used by pack ponies, pack bullocks, bullock carts and pony tongas. The construction of the railway considerably reduced the cost of fares and transport, and made the benefits of a “hill climate” available to the less affluent European who worked and lived on the plains of Bengal.

It is at Siliguri that the DHR begins its remarkable journey to Darjeeling. The summit at Ghoom, 47 miles from Siliguri, has an altitude of 7,407 feet. As the line had to rise over 7,000 feet in less than 50 miles, steep gradients and sharp curves were un-avoidable. The surveyors plotted banks ranging from 1 in 19 to 1 in 36 and curves of 50 feet radius. Later, however, these were reduced, the sharpest curve being 69 feet, the steepest short gradient being 1 in 23, and the steepest average gradient about 1 in 29.

Toy Railway

The fact that it was decided to work the line by adhesion the narrow gauge of two feet restricted the weight of the trains, but there is nothing of a “toy railway” about the construction of the line or about the amount of passenger and goods traffic that it carries. Steel rails weighing 41 lb. per yard were laid on wooden sleepers.

For the first seven miles from Siliguri station, the gradient was easy, the ascent to Sukna station (533 ft.) being at 1 in 281. The heaviest piece of work in this section was the erection of a steel bridge, 700 ft. long, in seven 100 ft. spans, across the Mahanadi River. This river has its source in the line of mountains ahead of the traveller known as the Mahaldirum Range, with an altitude of about 7,000 ft. The river at this point forms a boundary between the Terai, the jungle tract at the foot of the Himalayas, and the district of Jalpaiguri. It is a tributary of the Ganges. The train passes streams and tea gardens on the way to Sukna. When the jungle was being cleared, the area was fatal to many Europeans, a number of whom died from fever.

Spiral Ascent

It is at Sukna that the real ascent begins. After passing the ninth mile-post, the train encounters the first sharp curves. Then a fine view opens out to the south, displaying a vast horizon, and the passenger notices how rapidly he is rising above the plain. Passing through giant bamboos and screw pines, the train reaches the first spiral or loop.

Amazing Loops

Soon after Rungtong station, the line turns nearly south onto a long spur where another spiral is encountered. This spiral begins just before the fourteenth mile-post and is one of the most complicated and interesting pieces of engineering on the railway.

From Rungtong the line has to ascend to Tindharia station (2,822 ft.) in less than eight miles, the average gradient for this section is a little over 1 in 28. To overcome a sudden rise of 137 ft., there is practically a double loop, the outstanding feature of which is a sharp curvature introduced to fit the alignment to the situation. This second loop is a fine feat of engineering.

The engineers had to conquer an altitude of 871 ft. in the four-and-three-quarter miles from Sookna to Rungtong station (1,404 ft.), which is at the 12th mile. Four-and-a-half miles from Sookna the sudden ascent made a spiral unavoidable. The track described a sharp spiral through a deep cutting to gain a higher level. Four years or so after this had been constructed the rains of 1883 caused a slip of rocks and earth which fell into the cutting, completely filling it. This misfortune was turned to good account. The engineers had discussed re-aligning the section to reduce the gradient, and when the landslip compelled them to repair the line, they eased the gradient, making a new track some distance below the original road.

Soon after Rungtong station, the line turns nearly south onto a long spur where another spiral is encountered. This spiral begins just before the fourteenth mile-post and is one of the most complicated and interesting pieces of engineering on the railway. From Rungtong the line has to ascend to Tindharia station (2,822 ft.) in less than eight miles, the average gradient for this section is a little over 1 in 28. To overcome a sudden rise of 137 ft.

There is practically a double loop, the outstanding feature of which is a sharp curvature introduced to fit the alignment to the situation. This second loop is a fine feat of engineering.

The track, now returning northwards and eastwards for a short distance, runs along the old road, but gradually passes below it, until the third loop is reached at the sixteenth mile-post. Fine views are afforded of the valley below, the Bhutan Range to the east, and the adjacent hills and valleys. In the plains to the south-east the Teesta River can be seen, with an island called Tiger Island, because three tigers were once shot during a “beat” there. The river has its source in the Tibetan Lake Chalamu, which is 17,000 ft. above sea level, and about seventy-four miles north-east of Darjeeling.

At the eighteenth mile the terrain presented such difficulties that a spiral is impracticable, therefore a reverse is adopted. At an altitude of 2,438 ft., the line, climbing at 1 in 28, enters a curve of 800 ft. radius, followed by one of 400 ft. radius, and reaches a dead-end at 2,473 ft. It then backs up a second leg, rising at 1 in 33 round curves of 400 ft. and 200 ft. radius respectively, to a second dead-end at 2,501 ft. Another climb at 1 in 28 around a curve of 400 ft. radius brings the train to 2,536 ft., so that by means of the reverse or zigzag a total vertical lift of 98 ft. is accomplished.

Agony Point

Tindharia station is where the railway workshop is located. In the section of just under four miles between Tindharia and Gyabari stations the heaviest average gradient, 1 in 28 has to be faced. After a zigzag outside Tindharia station comes the fourth and final loop. This is generally regarded as the most sensational spot on the line, and is called “Agony Point”.

It represents the ascent of another of the conical spurs which are common in the locality. Originally there was so little room that on the upper part of the loop a curve of 59 ft. radius had to be described, the train practically overhanging the hillside at this point, but improvements were carried out later and the curve was somewhat eased.

The train passes Agony Point and proceeds, encountering another zigzag just before Gyabari station, which stands at an altitude of 3,516 feet. Just beyond it the fourth and last zigzag is negotiated and the gradient becomes slightly easier—1 in 32 for the succeeding four miles to Mahanuddy, 4,120 ft. above sea-level and 27 miles from Siliguri.

In the gorges below, it is said that a Nepalese head-man in charge of the men working on the road to Darjeeling shot a large Himalayan bear. As he had no lead for bullets, he used copper coins.

Mad Torrent

A stream called the “Mad Torrent” marks the half-way distance to Darjeeling. At the twenty-seventh mile the train passes a precipitous rock-face where the road was blasted out, in some places, for a depth of 50 ft. Near Mahanuddy station is a waterfall with a drop of 150 ft., which is the source of the Mahanuddy River. The gradient eases to about 1 in 32, and the train proceeds westwards towards Kurseong station, at an altitude of 4,864 ft. Before the station is reached some bluff rocks are passed. The town is of some importance, and has a considerable trade.

After leaving Kurseong the grade stiffens slightly to 1 in 31 to Toong station, a distance of about five miles. After Toong the gradient increases to a little over 1 in 29 for the five miles to Sonada, 6,552 ft. above the sea and forty-one miles from Siliguri. Then comes the easiest section of the mountain climb, about six miles long, to Ghoom, the summit, which is 7,407 ft. above sea-level, and forty-seven miles from Siliguri. The gradient eases to about 1 in 37, and the line passes through magnificent forests.

It is now only about four miles to Darjeeling, the altitude of which is 6812 ft; but on this section the steepest short gradient is found, the descent being made at an average of 1 in 31, but with a short bank of about three-quarters of a mile at approximately 1 in 23. At last when one reaches Darjeeling after thirteen and a half hours of journey, it’s like an experience of a lifetime.

Time Table

Passenger Train……

Train No.

Train Name



52587 Up

River View Passenger

Dep.07:00 Hrs

Arr.09:45 Hrs

Train No.

Train Name



52545 Up

Teesta-Rangeet  Passenger

Dep.14:15 Hrs

Arr. 17:45 Hrs

Train No.

Train Name



52544 Dn

Teesta-Rangeet Passenger

Dep. 10:15 Hrs

Arr. 14:00 Hrs

Train No.

Train Name



52588 Dn

River View  Passenger

Dep. 16:00 Hrs

Arr. 18:40 Hrs

Note: Since mid-2010 the DHR has been breached by a major landslip near Pagla Jhora & services on the DHR have been interrupted. In September’2011 another major landslip breached the line at Tindharia followed by a further landslip in July’2012. Rail and road traffic was disrupted and as a result, the services of 52540/41 has been restricted between Mahanadi-Kurseong and Darjeeling.

Special train……
Train No.Siliguri Jn.TindhariaSiliguri Jn.
52551  Jungle SafariDep. 10:00Arr. 12:20 Arr. 15:48 Daily from Siliguri Jn to Gayabari  & back.

Jungle Safari Special: The Jungle Safari special is offered daily from Siliguri Jn. to Tindharia& back. The tourist can enjoy breath taking views of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the World Famous Z- reverses between Sukna & Tindharia station. For Booking of Jungle Safari opt From station- SGUJ and To station-SGUD

 Train No.Train NameDarjeeling Dep.Ghum   Arr.Darjeeling  Arr.
52546Joy Ride(Diesel Loco)08:00    Hrs08:50 Hrs10:00   Hrs
52548Joy Ride(Steam Loco)10:40   Hrs11:30 Hrs12:40 Hrs
52549Joy Ride(Steam Loco)13:20   Hrs14:10 Hrs15:20 Hrs
52547Joy Ride(Steam Loco)16:05   Hrs16:55 Hrs18:05 Hrs

Joy Ride Special Trains: This train runs from Darjeeling to Ghum and back to Darjeeling with 10 minutes stoppage at Batasia Loop & 30 minutes stoppage at Ghum to visit the Rail Museum and the fare includes entry fee of the Ghum Rail Museum.For Booking of Joy Ride special train opt From station- DJ and To station-DJRZ

Steam Charter Trains

DHR offers the Chartered trains for Tourists, Travel Agencies, Corporate Houses and film shooting etc. either a single trip or round trip from any station to any station. The composition and timings are flexible. The tourists can choose their own composition from a wide variety of coach types. Usually, Steam Locomotives are provided for Charter  Trains.

Fare Scheme and Bookings

Sl N.Train/Coach NameClassFareTotal fare Including Service taxFrom & To station
1Jungle Safari1st ClassPer PassengerRs. 580/-Rs. 605/-SGUJ-GBE-SGUJRound Trip
2Steam Special Jungle Safari1st classRs. 580/-Rs. 605/-SGUJ-RTG-SGUJRound Trip
3Joy Ride Steam Loco1st classRs. 1050/-Rs. 1090/-DJ-GHUM-DJRound Trip
4Joy Ride Diesel LocoRs. 600/-Rs. 625/-
5Executive Class Joy Ride SpecialHeritage coachRs. 1100/-Rs. 1140/-
6Tourist Charter1st classPer Charter TrainRs. 55,000/-Rs. 57,040/-Single TripAny station to any station In DHR
Rs. 87,500/-Rs. 90,745/-Round
School Carter2nd classRs. 35,000/-Rs. 36,300/-trip Single
Rs. 55,000/-Rs. 57,040/-Trip Round trip
7Heritage Coaches CD R-149Per CoachRs. 18,530/-Rs. 19,040/-Single TripAny station to any station in DHR
Heritage Coaches RA-124Rs. 18,530/-Rs. 19,040/-
Heritage Coaches FH-14Rs. 18,530/-Rs. 19,040/-
81st Class CoachRs. 18,530/-Rs. 19,040/-
92nd Class CoachRs. 9,500/-Rs. 9,855/-Single Trip
10Fiat Open WagonRs. 9,500/-Rs. 9,855/-
11Covered wagonRs. 9,500/-Rs. 9,855/-
12Himalayan on Wheels1st ClassPer PassengerRs. 580/-Rs. 605/-KGN-MHN-KGNRound Trip
13Hill Queen

Executive Class

1st Class

Rs. 1050/-Rs. 1090/-DJ-SAD-DJ
14Red Panda525S4 DNRs. 790/-DJ-KGNSingle trip
52553 UP1st ClassRs. 790/-KGN-DJSingle trip
How do you book ticket?

You can book ticket by simply visiting your nearest Computerized Reservation Center in India OR you may log in www.irctc.co.in for online booking. If you do not have the opportunity to book, never mind, just drop in DHR station and book your ticket.


Reach Us

Director/DHR Office:

Phone : +91 354 200 5734 / +91 354 225 2555 / +91 354 234 700/ +91 354 2345 253
Fax : +91 353 251 6122/ +91 354 234 5253
Mob :
+91900 20 41955, 900 20 41905

Email:  dhroffice.kurseong@gmail.com,

By Post:
Director / DHR
Elysia Building
(Near Himali Boarding School)
Kurseong, Dist. Darjeeling
West Bengal, India – 734 203

Director / DHR
Camp Office, NG LOCO Shed Siliguri
P.O. Pradhan Nagar
Siliguri Jn, Dist Darjeeling
West Bengal, India-734 003

Key Officials 

Area Officer
+91 900 20 41521

Assistant Divisional Engineer
+91 900 20 41209

Assistant Divisional Mechanical Engineer
+91 900 20 41427

Traffic Inspector
+ 91 900 20 41905

Commercial Inspector
+ 91 900 20 41955

DHR Control
+91 354 20 05734
+91 900 20 41905
+91 900 20 41521

IRCTC Corporate Offices

New Delhi
Tele.          :+91 11-23311263
Fax No.       :+91 11-23311259

Tele.          :+91 22-22618061
Fax No.       :+91 22-22618066

Tele.          :+91 33-22439045
Fax No.       :+91 33-22439046

Tele.          :+91 44-28363453
Fax No.       :+91 44-28361997

Tele.          :+91 40-55201263
Fax No.       :+91 40-55201264

Or visit IRCTC’s website : www.irctc.co.in


Presently you can board DHR trains from Siliguri Jn. station which is close to New Jalpaiguri  railway station. New Jalpaiguri is connected to all parts of India through Indian Railways. You can take overnight trains from Kolkata (Howrah/Sealdah) or from New Delhi to reach New Jalpaiguri. To know details of all trains arriving at New Jalpaiguri, please visit http://indianrail.gov.in or contact us at +91 900 20 41905/ +91 900 20 41955.

Siliguri is 2 km from New Jalpaiguri. It is the second largest city of West Bengal.You can also arrive at Siliguri by Flights. The nearest airport is Bagdogra (IXB). Bagdogra is connected to Kolkata (CCU) and Delhi (DEL) by daily services.

52587up and 52545up Train Services start from Kurseong. You can reach Kurseong by road from Siliguri / Bagdogra. The journey time is 90-100 minutes Ex- Siliguri/Bagdogra to Kurseong.

Darjeeling can be reached directly by Road from Siliguri/Bagdogra or by DHR trains from Kurseong to Darjeeling.

Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. DHR trains start from Siliguri Jn.

Nearest Airport: Bagdogra (IXB)- 10km from Siliguri, 40 km from Kurseong, 70km from Darjeeling.

DHR tickets are available at nationwide computerised passenger reservation network of Indian Railways. You can also book tickets online at www.irctc.co.in. You may also contact us at to know the procedure of booking +91 900 20 41905/ +91 900 20 41955. Please note the following codes while searching / booking for trains.

New Jalpaiguri (NJP), Siliguri (SGUJ), Kurseong (KGN), Darjeeling (DJ). The destination for Joy Ride Train shall be Darjeeling Round (DJRZ). You can query for DHR trains at http://indianrail.gov.in using above station codes.

Please visit http://indianrail.gov.in for tariffs of different class of seats or contact us at +91 900 20 41905/ +91 900 20 41955.

Sorry, DHR does not serve meal on board. However, there are several vendors who cater to the need of passengers.

DHR does not provide hotel accommodations or local transport. However, there are agents who can cater to this need. Some of the agencies are mentioned in out home page.

The jungle safari runs from Siliguri Jn. to Gayabari and come back to Siliguri Jn. Please visit nearest PRS or irctc.co.in 

Please send an e-mail to Director at dhroffice.kurseong@gmail.com or director.dhr @gmail.com for more details or contact us at +91 900 20 41905/ +91 900 20 41955.

Please click on the link for more details: http://www.dhr.in/charter-train.html or contact us at +91 900 20 41521/ +91 900 20 41905/ +91 900 20 41955.

Please call up for  Darjeeling ( +91 354 2252555) , Kurseong ( +91 354 2344700), Sukna ( +91 353 2573364) or DHR Control ( +91 354 2005734) and to know the latest status. Our officials will be available to help you from 9am to 5pm. You can also send e-mail to dhroffice.kurseong@gmail.com or director.dhr@gmail.com for details or contact us at +91 900 20 41905/ +91 900 20 41955.