The Kalka-Shimla Railway built to connect, the summer capital of India in 1903 at an altitude of 2076 meters offers a panoramic feast to experience the grandeur of the picturesque Himalayas from the shivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Summerhill, Shimla and beyond up to the silvery snow line near the towering peaks.
The 96.54 kilometer line, built on a 2 feet six inches gauge, was opened for traffic November 9, 1903.Because of the high capital and maintenance cost, coupled with peculiar working conditions, the Kalka – Shimla Railway was allowed to charge fares that were higher than the prevailing tariffs on other lines. However, even this was not good enough to sustain the company and the Government had to purchase it on January 1, 1906.
Spectacular scenery along the whole route, and the marvels of it’s construction, keeps the traveler on this line spell bound. On leaving Kalka, 656 meters above sea level, the railway enters the foothills and immediately commences it’s climb.
Kalka-Shimla-Railway runs through 102 tunnels, some of which have hoary tales to tell. For instance, the longest tunnel at Barog, named after the engineer in charge of construction, bears the blood of it’s creator who apparently committed suicide after making a mistake in laying the alignment. This tunnel is 1143.61 meters long and remained the second longest tunnel on Indian Railways for a long time. It is a straight tunnel, passing through fissured sand stone.
Another tunnel at Taradevi, cutting through a hill on the peak of which is a famous temple, tells of the local superstition of the day that the Goddess would never permit it’s construction. When construction was half through, great excitement arose from reported sightings of a huge serpent in the tunnel that had emerged to stop the work. Anti climatically the reptile turned out be a long iron pipe running along the tunnel to convey fresh air.
The section has 864 bridges, only one of which is a 60 feet plate girder span and a steel truss. The others are viaducts with multi-arched galleries like the ancient Roman aqueducts.
Bridge No. 493, historically known as the “Arch Gallery”, situated between Kandaghat and Kanoh stations, is an arch bridge in three stages, constructed with stone masonry that stands good even today. Bridge No. 226, between Sonwara and Dharampur is an arch gallery bridge having 5 tier galleries of multiple spans, constructed with stone masonry and bridging a deep valley surrounded by high peaks.
The railway has a ruling gradient of 1 in 25 with 919 curves, the sharpest being 48 degrees. Climbing from 656 meters, the line ends at 2076 meters at Shimla.
Road links for other scenic spots in these hills also take off from the Kalka – Shimla Railway. First, there is Kasauli, a British day cantonment town, small, quiet but picturesque. Home to a Louis Pasteur Institute that manufactures the anti-rabies vaccine and a Central Research Institute that makes vaccines against typhoid and cholera and antidotes against snake bite, Kasauli can be approached by road from Dharampur Station.
Another famous hill station in the area is Chail. Piqued by British snobbery, the Maharajah of Patiala built his summer capital here as a rival to Shimla. Accessible from Kandhaghat or Shimla, Chail is at a height of 2150 meters. The Maharaja’s Palace, built in the 19th Century, together with the Cottages of his staff are today a beautiful holiday resort. Chail boasts of the highest cricket ground of the world, over looking the Sutlej Valley, with a spectacular view of snow capped Himalayan ranges.
|Kalka to Shimla|
|Train No.||Train Name||Departure||Arrival|
|1 KS Passenger||Kalka Shimla Passenger||04.00 AM||09.20 AM|
|241 NG Superfast||Shivalik Deluxe Express||05.30 AM||10.15 AM|
|251 Mail||Kalka Shimla Mail||06.00 AM||11.00 AM|
|255 Express||Himalayan Queen Express||12.10 PM||05.20 PM|
|253 Holiday||Holiday Special||06.30 AM||11.55 AM|
|101 Rail Motor Car||Rail Motor car||11.35 AM||03.40 PM|
|257 Holiday||Holiday Special||12.45 PM||06.30 PM|
|Shimla to Kalka|
|Train No.||Train Name||Departure||Arrival|
|256 Express||Himalayan Queen||10.35 AM||04.05 PM|
|2KS Passenger||Shimla Kalka Passenger||02.25 PM||08.15 PM|
|242 NG Superfast||Shivalik Delux Express||05.30 PM||10.15 PM|
|252 Mail||Shimla Kalka Express||06.05 PM||11.05 PM|
|258 Holiday||Holiday Special||09.25 AM||03.20 PM|
|102 Rail Motor Car||Rail Motor car||11.30 AM||04.25 PM|
|254 Holiday||Holiday Special||03.50 PM||09.05 PM|
Note: Train No. 253/254, 257/258 and 101/102 are Holiday Specials and run during the period from 1st May to 15th July, 15th September to 30th October and 15th December to 15th January.
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