Blog Post

Ride the Himalayan Toy Train

Riding the Toy Train of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has long been an experience that has drawn visitors and tourists to this region of India famed for its tea plantations and Himalayan scenery. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999, the so-called toy train was certainly not built as a toy. Opened in 1880, and the track reaching Darjeeling in 1881, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway became known as the ‘toy train’ due to its gauge and scale. Climbing from 100m above sea level at New Jalpaiguri to an elevation of 2,200m at Darjeeling it is easy to understand why the train was built. Still today steam and diesel engines climb the hills gaining altitude via 6 zig zags and a series of loops. The 12 steam trains in use today date from between 1889 and 1925. The heritage trains are also supported by an additional 6 modern diesel engines. Operating on narrow gauge tracks since 1880s the DHR provides an important transport link across the Darjeeling hills and lower plains.

Today, as well as being an engineering marvel from the bygone days of the British Empire, the so called ‘Toy Train’ has become an icon of tourism in India. The snail’s pace at which the train moves through the hilly terrain is at times so slow that you can often see the local children hopping on and off the train even while it is still on the move. The Toy Train also offers a wonderful way of absorbing the picturesque Himalayan scenes as you traverse along the slopes of the hills enjoying a pace of life from the golden age of steam as you drink in the mountain scenery surrounding you from the comfort of your toy train carriage.

Why not put Darjeeling into your holiday and travel plans and take a trip back in time yourself on this charming heritage railway? And Secret Retreats have the perfect place to stay when visiting Darjeeling, the Glenburn Tea Estate. A family run tea estate since 1859, the Glenburn Tea Estate is also a delightful heritage boutique hotel. Still a working tea estate today, producing fine teas for the world, guests can learn the secrets of tea production and enjoy some of the freshest Darjeeling teas on the planet. Looking towards the Kanchenjunga Range, or the Sleeping Buddha as it is also known, the 3rd highest mountain in the world, the Himalayan views from the Glenburn Tea Estate are simply sublime. And made even more perfect with a fresh brewed pot of Glenburn’s Darjeeling tea and one of their homemade cakes to enjoy as you look in wonder the natural wonders filling your view. Take advantage of the fresh mountain air, peaceful tea fields and let the slow pace of local life unwind and relax you.

The property features two beautifully furnished 4-bedroom bungalows. Warm and homely, the property shares a timeless luxury with its guests, from the fine dining with much of the produce fresh from the estate’s own gardens to the art and antiques that decorate the property’s interiors. Guests are treated like one of the family, so much in fact that many of Glenburn’s guests are in fact returning guests. With a variety of all-inclusive activities that share the best of the tea estate and surrounding countryside, guests can go fishing on the Rangeet River, take guided nature and bird watching walks, enjoy picnics while enjoying beautiful scenery, of course the Toy Train and visits to local villages, temples and Darjeeling town. Live life as it should be lived and drink tea as it should be drunk in a stay at the Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling. See you there!

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