I'll confess early in my review that I like travelling on railways and that one of the top destinations on my travel list was the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. I was not disappointed. So without (too much) bias, here goes!
When we visited in November 2012 the line was only open between Kurseong and Darjeeling due to landslides further down towards New Jalpaiguri, however I knew this in advance and you'll be able to check the current status online.
We arrived in Kurseong by shared jeep from Siliguri (also a good experience along the hairpin bends and looking down to see the valley dropping away below us) just at the right time to watch a whole load of taxi drivers who had parked on the tracks have a mad scurry to clear the line for the train, quite a sight.
We had stayed at the nearby Makaibari Tea Estate near Kurseong for a few days and got the first train of the day from Kurseong to Darjeeling. We booked our tickets on the day and the station master was very friendly. We pulled out right on time through the crowds of people and traffic which is forced to give way the the train. The junction and main street at Kurseong may well be the best place to watch the train without being on it. Climbing up Kurseong main street we passed by shops and street vendors which at times were no more than a couple of feet from the train. At one point we passed a fruit seller whose stand edged right up to the actual rails so his produce was beneath us as we went by, quite an experience. The scenery from the train is as beautiful and captivating as you would expect, be it watching the shops and people in the towns it passes through, to the zig sagging interaction of the railway and the road (and the vehicles on it!), to the magnificent views down / up / across the valley.
We were in the Mark Twain coach and the seats were very comfortable indeed. If you can get a seat on the left hand side of the train as it heads uphill (this will be the station building side if you get on at Kurseong because the train reverses just outside the station) then you'll be rewarded with the best overall experience I think.
There is only a diesel train which runs from Kurseong to Darjeeling now, but you can book on a "Joy Ride" return tour to be hauled by steam locomotive from Darjeeling to Ghoom. Thankfully I had booked a ticket in advance on the irctc.co.in website for the Joy Ride because the limited number of seats for each train were sold out for the days we were in Darjeeling. This was a fantastic experience, puffing and tooting our way along. The train stops to take on water on the way to Ghoom which gives you a chance to get out and take photos. It also pauses for a short while at the Gurkha Memorial before heading to Ghoom. At Ghoom station there is a good wee museum covering some of the history of the railway and it's well worth a look around (entrance free if you arrive on the Joy Ride). The steam train switches ends here and then heads back to Darjeeling. An excellent way to spend a couple of hours.
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