Tamil Nadu · Travel

Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Coonor to Ooty

Trains and train journeys often get me all nostalgic with fond memories of my childhood days. A train journey from Hyderabad to our home town, Banglaore was a ‘regular feature’ and a ritual we followed during summer vacations. It was something my sister and me always looked forward to, not to mention the fights we had for elusive window seat!

Toy train: Coonor to Ooty
Toy train: Coonor to Ooty
Toy train on the Nilgiri mountain railway
Toy train on the Nilgiri mountain railway

During the journey, we would be glued to the window, watching the wires above for birds and writing down the names of the stations as they appeared. While the former was a ‘friendly tip‘ from my dad, the latter was more akin to a ‘strict instruction‘ from him that both of us loathed! While we never realized the value of these little things back then, today I realize it was probably my dad’s way of instilling in us the love for travel and to do it with an open mind, to be curious to the things around you and to appreciate nature. An avid traveller himself, he was pretty much an ‘encylopedia’ on trains and rail routes in India.  It was infact one of the very few things that would get him talking nineteen to the dozen!

On a recent visit to Kotagiri, my sister and me had a chance to relive some of these precious memories as we boarded the incredibly memorable Nilgiri mountain railway between Coonor and Ooty.  A UNESCO world heritage site, the line dates back to 1908 when it was built by the British. The entire route is actually between Mettupalayam and Ooty though we boarded at Coonor.  Replete with picturesque beauty and oodles of old world charm, this toy train ride has to be on your list in case you are visiting either of these hill stations.  Here are some captures:

The charming Coonor station
The charming Coonor station

The interiors of the toy train
The interiors of the toy train

The interiors of the toy train

As the train chugs up the mountainous terrain, the views are simple amazing.

Lush greenery and picturesque scenery
Lush greenery and picturesque scenery

The best part for me were the quaint little stations, straight out of a fairy tale.

Stations painted uniformly in the colur of the Nilgiris aka blue
Stations painted uniformly in the colour of the Nilgiris aka blue

Operated by the Southern Railway, this 1000 mm metre guage line is the only rack railway in India.

As you alight in Ooty, do not miss the wonderfully done heritage rail museum in the station.

A view of the museum in Ooty station
A view of the museum in Ooty station

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12 thoughts on “Photo essay: Nilgiri mountain railway: toy train from Coonor to Ooty

  1. Its a cute train……travelling with parents…..excitement of travelling ……the fun and enthusiasm…….always memorable. Hope that excitement continues for ever…..

  2. I like the small wondrous details you show in your photos about the nostalgic train ride you had with your sister. The Indian Railroad stations have very long names where the letter a is the dominant vowel in one of your excellent images. Best wishes! Peter

  3. Well Explained. Toy Trains are famous for 2 Destinations only. Connor to Ooty
    and Kalka to Shimla..

    But as per my experience Kalka – Shimla Scenic beauty is exclusive, Specially in Winters and After rains…

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