Welcome to the DHR
Adapted from a compilation by David Charlesworth of DHRS
We hope you have an enjoyable journey travelling by DHR and have prepared these notes so that you may anticipate what may be seen or encountered from the train.
Since its inception in 1881, The DHR has ferried crores of passengers including heads of state, kings, queens, viceroys and commoners (including school children in all categories) and, by doing so, has laid down memories, traditions and folklore in the hearts of both tourists and local residents of the Darjeeling Hills.
As the Earl of Ronaldshay fondly remembered in 1923:
"The discovery that here [Siliguri] the [main line] system ends and the two foot gauge of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway begins, confirms what all these things hint at. [.....] One steps into a railway carriage which might easily be mistaken for a toy, and the whimsical idea seizes hold of one that one has accidentally stumbled into Lilliput. With a noisy fuss out of all proportion to its size the engine gives a jerk - and starts. [.....] No special mechanical device such as the rack is employed - unless, indeed, one can so describe the squat and stolid hill-man who is perched over the forward buffers of the engine and scatters sand on the rails when the wheels of the engine lose their grip of the metals and race, with the noise of a giant spring running down when the control has been removed. Sometimes we cross our own track after completing the circuit of a cone, at others we zig-zag backwards and forwards; but always we climb at a steady gradient."
Or as Mark Twain, American author wrote after a trip on DHR in 1896:
"It was the most enjoyable day I have spent on Earth".
If you are discovering the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) for the first time, you will benefit from an understanding that a successful journey cannot be guaranteed; nature and weather, as well as complex political issues, will often cause disappointment to the visitor and tourist. The secret of enjoying your visit to one of the most outstanding engineering feats of the World is to 'roll with the punches' and appreciate that this is all part of the appeal of a railway which has survived, fully operational, against all the odds and elements for almost 130 years.
DHR is truly one of the World's great journeys. Riding the DHR will take you, in just a few hours, through a wonderful variation in vegetation, forest, mountain peaks and people unlike any other journey of its length in the World. It is a rich and exciting trip despite any difficulties you may or may not have!