In Photos | A Heritage Ride On The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

In Photos | A Heritage Ride On The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Photo Courtesy : Tamil Nadu Tourism

The blue train, emerging from the green backdrop, leaves a trail of steam and smoke, whistling as it moves; there is no denying the romance and aesthetics this train journey entails.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway – a quaint and charming toy train was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005. The train journey started in 1899, and people have been enthralled by it ever since. The 46 km total distance is traveled by the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in 5 hours. And what a beautiful journey it is.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway at Conoor Station. Photo : Tamil Nadu Tourism

Immerse yourself in nature’s beauty as the train takes you through 208 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges along the mountain ranges. Each station has a lot to offer; each turn enroute has a panoramic view of the landscape. Though the train runs from Ooty to Mettupalayam, the recommended stretch is from Coonoor (20 km south of Ooty) to Ooty.

Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiri Mountains, known for its tea estates. Tea plantations line both sides of the track. Coonoor is the most scenic place on the journey, and many people prefer to spend a day here as well. Coonoor’s most beautiful tourist attractions include Sim’s Park, Law’s Falls, Dolphin’s Nose, Lamb’s Rock, and Droog Fort.

Conoor Railway Station
Conoor Railway Station. Photo : Tamil Nadu Tourism

In the early morning half-light, the blue-hued train is surreal and toy-like. Passengers eagerly wait for the guard to blow his whistle at 7.30 a.m. (Another train runs at 9.15 a.m. from Ooty to Coonoor). When the train finally chugs out, with a long toot piercing the early morning stillness, it is tempting to hang out of the window and savour the magnificient scenery and feel a nip in the air. Traversing 18 km in about 90 minutes, the train embraces precarious mountain sides, winds around hillocks, chugs over bridges above high valleys, passes through 10-odd tunnels, reaches a top speed of just over 10 kmph and halts at pretty stations with names like Wellington, Ketti and Lovedale.

Photo : Tamil Nadu Tourism

The views are breathtaking: lush hills and valleys, clouds sweeping across peaks, and hill slopes carpeted with plantations. Some travellers choose to get off at Ketti (9 km southwest of Ooty), a picturesque little town located in a valley that is the last stop before Ooty, to wander around in the tea plantations.

Another option is Lovedale (5 km south-west of Ooty), a scenic town with a population of less than 1,500 and home to the 150-year-old Lawrence School. It was once full of elegant colonial structures but only a handful survive. The station of Lovedale is buried deep in the woods. Tall, thick eucalyptus trees surround the station, and bird songs fill the air.

Photo : Tamil Nadu Tourism

The train finishes its journey at Ooty- the largest hill station in the Nilgiri Mountains and in Tamil Nadu. The hill station is also a popular film shooting location as well. Visit scenic attractions like the Ooty Lake, Rose Garden, Botanical Garden, Stone House, Tribal Museum, Wax World, and St. Stephen’s Church.

A heritage museum, detailing the history of the iconic Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), was inaugurated at the Udhagamandalam Railway Station in 2018. Featuring over 22 antique pieces of equipment used by the railways, most of which are over a 100-years-old, including gas lamps, pinion wheels, ticket tubes and even latrines, the museum has been designed to showcase the history of the railway line, and the colonial pioneers who opened up the Nilgiris to exploration.

Udhagamandalam Railway Station
Heritage Museum at Udhagamandalam Railway Station, Ooty

The track for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is an engineering marvel. And it’s stunning to look at as well. The train’s rustic wooden coaches feature enormous windows that provide the most breathtaking views, and it is painted in shades of blue and cream.

Best time to visit

The summer is the best time to visit and make the most of the Nilgiri Mountian Railway journey. Besides the train ride, you can indulge in trekking and other adventure activities in and around Ooty. However, the region is equally breathtaking in monsoons as well. The mountains brim with life, once-dry waterfalls cascade wild and free, and the rivers gush with waters.

Photo : Tamil Nadu Tourism

For an experience like no other, take a short trip on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

To know more visit Tamil Nadu Tourism’s official website.

In Partnership with Tamil Nadu Tourism

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