The Queen of Hills, Ooty is a noted summer destination known for its crowned, lush green hills and pleasant weather most time of the year. Amidst the carved hills, an architectural marvel that took a good 45 years to come into being traverses through the Nilgiris to reach Mettupalayam. Let us find more about it…
Nilgiri Mountains have today become a tourist hot spot for travelers looking for a refreshing change. Painted in dreamy cream and charged blue, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway’s toy trains are nothing less than a romantic scenery in the hills of Ooty. Especially when the winters subside and the heat arrives in many parts of the country, this journey makes its way in most of the travel itineraries. The steam engines haul to make a 46 kilometre long journey in a span of 4 and a half hours whistling through approximately 9 stations and passing many rocky terrains, hustling rice fields, exquisite viaducts, spotless bungalows and stunning Ooty hotels.
The whistles of the train are heard in the region since the year 1899 when the first toy train was set off from Mettupalayam to Coonoor and further extending to Fern Hill and Ooty in 1908. It is indeed a magical experience when the train passes through 16 long and short tunnels, 250 bridges with whooping 208 curves throughout the journey. The first five miles are through the plains after which the real trip begins. As the train touches the Coonoor hill station with a steep climb, the huge tea plantations welcome the tourists to their land.
Don’t forget to see the unique design of the Coonoor station built with stones once you reach here. After a short ride uphill the train reaches the highest point of the journey – The Fern Hill, at an altitude of 2218 meters from the ground. The Fern Hill station is currently a guesthouse open only for high-end officials or people with special permission. Since the tracks are too close to the rest-house, the windows are to be closed every time else they would block the passage of the train. From this station onwards, the tracks begin to decent until you make it to the beautiful city of Ooty.
The edge-of-the-seat moments at the passages over the girder bridges and the steep green hills won’t let you blink an eye for most of the time in the trip. The steepest as well as the slowest toy train adds to the unique and adventurous moments that you would love to cherish for a lifetime. You might be able to see elephants from a close distance and even pick flowers on the route.
Even after so many years, the charm of the path hasn’t diminished at all. Though there are many crumbling structures yet the toy trains are still in good shape, just like how the Swiss inventor Riggenbach designed it.
Do keep a camera with you for some of the most splendid panoramic shots especially on the bridges between Adderley and Kallar and carry your lunch boxes with you since there is no catering system of the train.
Hope you have a wonderful journey!
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