Go cloud chasing withA�a bit of locomotiveA�smoke this year,A�courtesy someA�of the countrya��s mostA�popular toy trains
THIS monsoon, ride a mountainA�toy train and enjoy the downpourA�while sipping on someA�Darjeeling tea. Or be a geek
and check out the worlda��s oldestA�engine or relive a scenic trainA�journey from your favourite Bollywood flick.A�Add historical significance to your trip byA�picking one of the UNESCO world heritageA�toy trains, like the Darjeeling HimalayanA�Railway (DHR), where Ranbir Kapoor wasA�recently spotted in nerd glasses, shootingA�with Anurag Basu for Jagga Jasoos. SomeA�updates for your trip: the Matheran Railway,A�which was closed for a year, is set to resume,A�with extra safety facilities, and DHR is resumingA�its suspended glory, too, with daily serviceA�between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
The oldest functioning toy train in the world,A�it has been immortalised in movies like Barfi,A�Main Hoon Na, Parineeta and many more.A�The two-hour journey smacks of the colonialA�era and still has three heritage coachesa��thatA�have been preserved since the 1920s, and areA�available on request (with luxurious diningA�facilities) at Rs 19,500. The 14-km trip willA�take you through Batasia Loop, the famousA�spiral railway track that hosts a war memorialA�against the backdrop of the magnificentA�Kanchenjunga. True to the spirit of the town,A�only first-class tickets are available to thoseA�who visit this renowned UNESCO heritageA�site, at Rs 625 for diesel engine and Rs 1,090 forA�steam engine rides.
Selfie spot: The ancient Baby Sivok, theA�oldest engine in the world, at Ghoom StationA�Museum and the bronze Gorkha statue atA�Batasia Loop.
Quick bites: Stop by the many tea shopsA�and restaurants on Batasia Loop and theA�Ghoom Railway Station serves local cuisineA�like momos, thukpa and thalis, besides theA�world-famous Darjeeling tea.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The small-yet-wonderful town of Ootya��tuckedA�amidst the cloud-kissed Nilgiri Hillsa��is oneA�of the countrya��s favourite getaway destinations.
Experience its beauty by hopping on toA�a 50-year-old locomotive. The route stretchesA�over 46 km and passes through ravines andA�tea plantations, while providing panoramicA�views of the surrounding rocky terrain. YouA�can gaze at sleepy cottages nestled by pineA�trees as the ride cuts through 108 curves, 16A�tunnels and 250 bridges. This toy train was featuredA�in blockbusters like Dil Se, Kuch KuchA�Hota Hai and Jodi. Dona��t forget, the famousA�Chaiyya Chaiyya song was shot on its roof.
Selfie spot: Thunder World, which hosts aA�dinosaur park, is fairly close to the station.
Quick bites: Snack on Ootya��s famous varki,A�salt biscuits, bajji, vadai and bonda atA�roadside restaurants when the train halts.
Matheran Toy Train
With its two-hour zig-zag route, meanderingA�through 281 winding curves of the MatheranA�hill, this 100-year-old ride is poised to get itsA�world heritage status from UNESCO. SituatedA�at an elevation of 2,500 metres, Matheran isA�just 110 km away from Mumbai. This is theA�site of Ragini MMSa�� forest shoot and can beA�best enjoyed when coupled with a luxe stayA�at The Parsi Manor, the century-old boutiqueA�property (`4,500 per night) that also servesA�some delicious Parsi fare (think patrani nimachi and lagan nu custard). As for the adventurous,A�try out the local rock climbing andA�trekking spots around Shivajia��s Ladder, OneA�Tree Hill and Garbett Point.
Selfie spot: The panoramic vistas of EchoA�Point and Louisa Point, famed for its cascading
waterfalls.A�Quick bites: Gujarati thali and vada pavA�are available throughout the rail route.
Kakla-Shimla Toy Train
This 100-year-old narrow gauge, in thisA�UNESCO world heritage site, passes throughA�some splendid landscapes. Stretching over
96 km, which includes 102 tunnels and 87A�humped bridges, this two-day ride throughA�the pine-covered hill tops of the HimalayasA�is best enjoyed in the luxe Shivalik TouristA�Coach for six (Rs 5,000 onward).
Selfie spot: Pose with outstretched handsA�like how a�?Geet and Adityaa�� did in Jab We MetA�or visit the Woodwille Palace from 3 Idiots.
Quick bites: Breakfast and dinner areA�complimentary on the train. Also checkA�out Wake and Bake in Shimla, famed for its
chicken schnitzel laffa with mango dip (Rs 125A�onwards).
Kangra Valley Railway
This railway is also awaiting its UNESCOA�world heritage status. Often termed as anA�extension of the famous Kakla-Shimla
Railway, it is quite unique. The toy train, in itsA�164 km corridor stretcha��which appeared inA�movies like Rockstar and Jab We Meta��takesA�you through gorges of the Dhauladhar RangeA�and provides a splendid view of the mountains.A�The intricate corridor passes throughA�two tunnels and reaches an elevation of up toA�1,290 metres.
Selfie spot: The ruins of the Kangra fort,A�as the train passes through the DaulatpurA�tunnel. Timing is everything.
Quick bites: Local cuisine like kangriA�dham, special masala momos and the KangriA�chai at the rail-side stalls.
with inputs from Arya P Dinesh,Payal Gangishetty & Sonali Ravi