Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

History of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway: A UNESCO heritage

Author: TourGenie
Date: 2023-01-25

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The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Unlike other heritage sites, this one was inscribed as the first industrial World Heritage site in Asia and only the second railway site in the world. 


The DHR is an outstanding example of a hill passenger railway, having applied ingenious engineering solutions (the loop and the ā€˜Zā€™ reverse) to establish a rail link across a mountainous elevated terrain climbing from 100 m to 2200 m above sea level. 

DHR B-class

DHR B-class


In 1878, Franklin Prestage of the Eastern Bengal Railway proposed a hill tramway of a 2-foot gauge from Siliguri to Darjeeling. Darjeeling Steam Tramway Co. started construction in 1879. The line reached Tindharia (Kurseong, Darjeeling) by 1880 and finally reached Darjeeling in 1881, marking its completion. The company's name was changed to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway co. In 1885 a short extension to Darjeeling Bazaar was commissioned and became operational in 1889. 


To navigate the steep terrain, numerous spirals, loops, and reverses were constructed. The locomotives were made by Messrs. Sharpe, Stewart and Company of Glasgow. The DHR employed 2 types of locomotive: one with a hauling capacity of 39 tons and another with powerful brakes capable enough to haul a 50-ton train up sharp inclines. In total, it cost INR 31,96,000 to construct the DHR. 

Different carriages carried different classes of passengers. The first-class passenger carriages could carry 12 persons. Open trollies fitted with hoods and curtains, attached to each passenger train, could further seat 6 first-class passengers or 16 second-class passengers. Passenger baggage was carried separately in trucks. 

The DHR halted at the Siliguri shed