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Kalka Shimla Toy Train Guide

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Toy train entering a tunnel, Kalka, Himachal Pradesh, India
Panoramic Images/Panoramic Images/Getty Images

Taking a trip on the historic UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla toy train is like traveling back in time. The railway, built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla, provides one of the most scenic train journeys in India. It enlivens passengers as it gradually winds its way steeply upwards along the narrow track, though mystical mountains and pine forests.

Kalka Shimla Train Route:

Kalka and Shimla are located just north of Chandigarh, in India's mountainous northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The captivating train route connects both places. It runs for 96 kilometers (60 miles) though 20 railway stations, 102 tunnels, 800 bridges, and an incredible 900 curves. The longest tunnel, which stretches for more than a kilometer, is near the main railway station at Barog. The most spectacular scenery occurs from Barog to Shimla. The train's speed is greatly restricted by the steep gradient that it has to climb, but this allows for plenty of fascinating sightseeing along the way.

Kalka Shimla Train Services:

There are three main tourist train services that run on the Kalka Shimla railway. These are:
  • Shivalik Deluxe Express -- a premium express train with carpet, wide glass windows that open, cushioned seats, and relaxing music. It fits 120 passengers. Food is provided. There are no stops along the way.
  • Himalayan Queen -- a standard train service. Food isn't provided but can be purchased at the 10 or so stations that it stops at along the way. Owing to the number of stops, this train is the most suitable for those who like to get out and explore. You'll be able to take plenty of photos.
  • Rail Motor Car -- uniquely resembles a bus from the time of the Second World War. It's got a transparent roof, and fits only 14 passengers. It's also an express service, with food provided. There is one stop, at Barog.

Kalka Shimla Train Special Carriages:

In addition to the normal train services, there two heritage carriages that run on the Shimla-Kalka route as part of the newly introduced Special Heritage Train. The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach was built in 1966, while the Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach dates back to 1974. Both carriages were recently refurbished to become part of the new train service, which aims to recreate the bygone era for passengers. It runs on selected dates (around once a week) from September to March.

Kalka Shimla Train Timetable:

Trains from Kalka to Shimla run daily as follows:

  • Shivalik Deluxe Express -- is timed to connect with the Howrah-Kalka Mail train, which comes from Kolkata via Delhi. It departs Kalka at 5.30 a.m and arrives in Shimla at 10.15 a.m.
  • Himalayan Queen -- connects with the Himalayan Queen train from Nizammudin station in Delhi. It departs Kalka at 12.10 p.m. and arrives in Shimla at 5.20 p.m. However, in reality the journey can often take up to seven hours.
  • Rail Motor Car -- is for early risers! It departs Kalka at 5.10 a.m and arrives at 9.35 a.m.

To Kalka, trains depart from Shimla in the evenings.

Kalka Shimla Train Holiday Services:

In addition to the normal train services, a number of extra trains run during the busy holiday seasons in India. This is usually from May to July, September and October, and December and January.

The Rail Motor Car is also a temporary service that only operates for part of the year, to serve the holiday rush.

Kalka Shimla Train Reservations:

You can make a reservation for travel on the Shivalik Deluxe Express, Himalayan Queen, and Rail Motor Car services on the Indian Railways website or at Indian Railways booking offices. It's recommended that you book your tickets as early as possible, especially during the summer months from April to June.

Here's how to make a reservation on the Indian Railways website. The Indian Railways codes for the stations are Kalka "KLK" and Simla (no "h") "SML".

Heritage Toy Train packages for travel on the Shivalik Queen and Palace carriages of the Special Heritage Train can be booked on the IRCTC Rail Tourism website.

Kalka Shimla Train Cost:

The train fares are as follows:
  • Shivalik Deluxe Express -- 280 rupees ($6) one way.
  • Himalayan Queen -- 167 rupees ($3.50) one way.
  • Rail Motor Car -- 260 rupees ($5.50) one way.
  • Shivalik Queen and Palace -- 2,600 rupees one way for an IRCTC package.

Kalka Shimla Train Travel Tip:

Make sure you sit the right side of the train when going to Shimla, and the left side when returning, for the best views.

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