What is the significance of the Mountain Railways of India?

The mountain railways of India are one of the 20 mountain railways around the world that are still in working condition and are a major attraction to the tourism of India.

The mountain railways of India just comprise of 6-7 small rail lines which are also called “chottey lines” in Hindi. They were built during the British rule and the extraordinary thing about this is that they are still functioning, almost after more than a century.

We have total 4 operating mountain railways in India which date back to British Raj.

  • The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
  • The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
  • Kalka-Shimla Railway
  • Matheran Hill Railway

The first three are declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites under the title "The Mountain Railways of India". The 4th Matheran Hill Railway is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are all narrow gauge railways.

Majority of the mountain railways are operated in the northern part of India in the hilly terrains of Himalayas (4 lines out of 7).

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways are one of the oldest which dates back to 1881 and the Kalka Shimla railway dates back to 1898.