Built in 1898, the Kalka-Shimla Railway is a narrow gauge railway connecting the mountainous regions of Shimla and Kalka. It was built by the British after the first Anglo-Gurkha War and as Shimla gained popularity as the summer capital of the British, the trains became an important means of public transport.
107 tunnels were made on the route, 102 of which remain in use. The longest tunnel, Barog, has a rather grisly history, which started when engineer Colonel Barog dug the tunnel from both ends but found that he could not connect them in the middle.
For this inability to align the tunnel properly, the colonel was symbolically fined one rupee. He, however, couldn’t live with the knowledge of his failure and committed suicide inside the incomplete tunnel.
When HS Herlington took over the construction of the tunnel, it was Bhalku, a local sadhu, who helped the British man to complete his mission successfully.
The toy train is now an integral part of Shimla’s tourism and few know of its rather horrifying beginnings. Tourists are mostly interested in the tunnels and railway bridges that lie on this route, but the real seat-gripping moments on the train are those when it passes by dangerous cliffs and deep ravines.