Bucket List Travel: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
One of the most authentic (not to mention cheap) ways to see India and travel long distances in the sprawling country is to travel by train. And one of the most iconic train rides in the country is the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The train is nicknamed the Toy Train, and is a narrow gauge railway that goes from Siliguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal.
The railway is only about 53 mile long, but climbs nearly 7,000 feet in elevation, so it makes for an excellent short but scenic ride between cities, or even a day trip. The train, which was built at the end of the 1800s, has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 for its passage through some of the world’s most beautiful vistas.
Airfare to India isn’t cheap, but once in the country, you can travel for a long time on very little money. Basic accommodation can be had for a just a few dollars per night, train journeys don’t cost much more, and delicious and filling street meals (just make sure you have good travel insurance in case you come down with the dreaded Delhi belly) can be had for under one dollar. Most budget travelers could get by for a month in India on less than what they’d spend for a week in one of Europe’s capital cities. In India you can enjoy good food, unique experiences, beautiful landscapes, and one of the most coveted train rides in the world – a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – for much less than you might expect. You may even be able to cross off a few more items on that bucket list – visit the Taj Mahal, party on the beach at Goa, or maybe score a gig as an extra in a Bollywood movie.
Photo by Wild Vanilla (Rob)