Destinations Magazine

Photo Essay: Nilgiri Mountain Railway: Toy Train from Ooty to Coonor

By Rashmi Gopal Rao

Trains and train journeys often get me all nostalgic with fond memories of my childhood days. A train journey from Hyderabad to our home town, Banglaore was a ‘regular feature’ and a ritual we followed during summer vacations. It was something my sister and me always looked forward to, not to mention the fights we had for elusive window seat!

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

During the journey, we would be glued to the window, watching the wires above for birds and writing down the names of the stations as they appeared. While the former was a ‘friendly tip‘ from my dad, the latter was more akin to a ‘strict instruction‘ from him that both of us loathed! While we never realized the value of these little things back then, today I realize it was probably my dad’s way of instilling in us the love for travel and to do it with an open mind, to be curious to the things around you and to appreciate nature. An avid traveler himself, he was pretty much an ‘encylopedia’ on trains and rail routes in India.  It was infact one of the very few things that would get him talking nineteen to the dozen!

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

On a recent visit to Kotagiri, my sister and me had a chance to relive some of these precious memories as we boarded the incredibly memorable Nilgiri mountain railway between Coonor and Ooty.  A UNESCO world heritage site, the line dates back to 1908 when it was built by the British. The entire route is actually between Mettupalayam and Ooty though we boarded at Coonor.  Replete with picturesque beauty and oodles of old world charm, this toy train ride has to be on your list in case you are visiting either of these hill stations.  Here are some captures:

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to CoonorThe charming Coonor station

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to CoonorThe interiors of the toy train

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

As the train chugs up the mountainous terrain, the views are simple amazing.

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to CoonorLush greenery and picturesque scenery

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

The best part for me were the quaint little stations, straight out of a fairy tale.

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to CoonorStations painted uniformly in the color of the Nilgiris aka blue

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

Operated by the Southern Railway, this 1000 mm meter guage line is the only rack railway in India.

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

As you alight in Ooty, do not miss the wonderfully done heritage rail museum in the station.

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to Coonor

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Ooty to CoonorA view of the museum in Ooty station

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