Friday, 1 March 2013

Tiger Hill and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Seeing dawn rise over the Himalayas from Tiger Hill is one of the things tourists do when in Darjeeling but of course, sometimes you cannot see anything because of rain / snow / fog / etc.

TH 430 am

Dawn is at 605 am in late February and therefore we are told to get up at 4 am to leave by 4.30 in order to get to the top of Tiger Hill by 4WD jeep in time to see sunrise.

Road up tiger hill

The ride up the hill is over the usual unmaintained narrow track and this picture (taken after dawn) shows the road winding its way up the hill.

Eventually you get near to the top but such is its popularity and the number of jeeps which have driven up there that a final walk is certain unless you have arrived very early.

TH Carpark

The car park at the top will be more than full and it is amazing that the jeeps manage to get out again (this picture was taken just before we left).

At the top of the hill is an observation platform

TH Viewing Gallery

and we found it worth paying the extra to go into it because then we were out of the biting

Kangchenjunga in the pre dawn

wind. If the sky is clear, then you will see a pre dawn glow to the east and in a northerly direction, the Himalayas will gradually appear in the growing light of the dawn.

Kangchenjunga dawn coming

Kangchenjunga dawn coming-001

TH Sunrise

Once the sun rises (to cheers from those waiting)

Kangchenjunga at dawn

the snow on the Himalayas reflects the light


Kangchenjunga -001and through binoculars you can see the mountains very clearly (here Kanchenjunga which is the third highest mountain in the world with an elevation of 8,586 m (28,169 ft).

Kangchenjunga post dawn

Snow blowing off mountain

The peaks are quite delightful and this photograph shows snow blowing off the face of one of them.Everest

If the weather is particularly clear, then it is possible to spot Everest 107 miles away. In this photograph, Everest is the middle peak and appears smaller than Makalu (27,799 ft) on its right because Makalu is closer to the camera.

To see a better image of Everest than the one I took, click here.

Seeing dawn rise over Everest does indeed make getting up at such an absurd time worthwhile. We were very lucky to get a perfectly clear morning.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR)

If you come to Darjeeling then you have to ride the DHR. I can remember when I was very young, owning a book which had a map of the DHR in it and included a detailed description of how the trains were able to get from New Japai Guri at the bottom of the hill to Darjeeling at the top.

TT Original Route Map

Since I read that book, there have been a number of landslides and it is not now possible to travel the whole route (despite the railway being a Unesco Heritage Site) but I am sure that I never then thought I would have the opportunity to ride any part of it.

TT Gradient Profile

The attractions of the railway to ex “boy train spotters” include:

  • it is a 2ft (610mm) narrow gauge railway (there are four different track gauges in use in India)

TT Narrow Guage

  • the train runs either down the high street or along / across the road
  • although these days, Diesel is mainly used to haul the trains

TT Diesel 602

TT 602

  • original steam trains are put on as “tourist specials”

TT Train in Shed

  • it is very cheap

So we are riding the 0840 special from

TT Darjeeling Station Sign

Darjeeling at 6812 ft to the highest station on

TT Gradient Profile Ghum Darjeeling

the route which is Ghum at 7407 ft and whilst

TT Ghum

doing so we will be pulled by a steam train.

TT Steam Train in Shed

This section includes the famous Batasia loop

TT Close up of map

TT Crossing over trackwhere the track spirals around over itself (this picture was taken at the Batasia bridge (on the map above) as we went over the track below and in doing so, it rises a considerable height.

The train pauses for 10 minutes at the loop to

TT Batasia view

TT at Batista Loup

give you the chance to see the monument

TT Batasia MonumentTT Fire Box-1 

have a look at the train

TT Service Plate

(this one has been in service for about 80 years)

TT Repairs TT Fire Box

TT View over Mountains

and also to see back to Darjeeling across the valley.

At Ghum station

TT Ghum Station-1 TT Ghum Station

there is a museum which is

TT Ghum Museum

probably only of interest to the dedicated,

TT Ghum two travellers

TT Train arrives

the train does a reverse in order to get to the front for pulling the train back to Darjeeling,

TT Tea Stall

TT Tea Stall Price List

TT Station Toiletsand whilst it does so, you can get a cup of tea for about 3p or go to the toilet using one of the originals dating back to the early Raj (the Raj dates from 1858 to 1947)


As we travel between the two towns, we do

TT Train tracks up streetTT Train running along road

indeed steam down, across and along the

TT Train crosses road-1TT being chased by car

street and cars have to follow behind whilst

TT Soot

getting covered with soot and ash. The noise, smoke. steam and constant train whistling are better than any other train I have been on.

TT Ghum high street

Most people living along the track however ignore the train  because they have seen it all before.

It was a great experience and brought my book memories back to life.

There are numerous online references about the DHR available including:

  • wikipedia here
  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society website here
  • Indian Railways here
  • DHR official website here
  • Youtube videos here

No comments:

Post a Comment