Through the Roof of the World
One of the most amazing engineering feats of the world, even more amazing about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is that it is fully operational even a century after it was built
“It is the most enjoyable day I have spent on earth.”
– Mark Twain, after a trip on DHR in 1896
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) connects the plains of West Bengal at New Jalpaiguri with the hill station of Darjeeling. On the way, it passes the most breathtaking scenery and climbs to a height of 7400 feet at Ghum (the highest station in India and the second highest in the world), from where glimpses of the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga are visible on clear days.
It is at Siliguri that the DHR begins its remarkable journey to Darjeeling. The summit at Ghoom, 47 miles from Siliguri, has an altitude of 7,407 feet. As the line had to rise over 7,000 feet in less than 50 miles, steep gradients and sharp curves were un-avoidable.
World Heritage Status
Indian Railways in recognition of its social, cultural,economic and industrial value as a lifeline of India, made an application to UNESCO for World Heritage Inscription of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) in 1998.
The world heritage committee of UNESCO at its 23th session held at Marrakesh, Morocco decided to inscribe Darjeeling Himalaya Railway site on the world Heritage list.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed DHR as a World Heritage Site on 5th December 1999 stating the following reasons:
An outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on social & economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world.
“The DHR is the first, and still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact.