The famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) which was declared as World Heritage site on 5th December, 1999 has celebrated 20 years of “World Heritage” declaration by UNESCO in a befitting manner. As part of the programme a ceremonial special train was also flagged off from Darjeeling to Ghum in presence of a large gathering.
A fun run was held from Ghum to Darjeeling to create awareness on the importance of DHR, where general public apart from school children participated in good numbers. An art exhibition related to DHR by local artiste and a colourful cultural programme was held on the occasion at Darjeeling Chowrasta which enthralled the guests present on the occasion.
A Coffee Table book on DHR was also released on the occasion. Member Rolling Stock Railway Board, Rajesh Agrawal, GM / NFR Sanjive Roy, DRM / Katihar, R.K. Verma, Secretary GTA, David Pradhan, Director Cultural Affairs of GTA B.K. Ghishing apart from other senior railway officials were present on the occasion.
The DHR museum at Ghum was also visited by the guests present. Earlier a monumental National Flag was hoisted at Darjeeling station in presence of all.
Presently there are thirteen stations in DHR starting from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. Although the old narrow gauge trains of DHR used to be hauled by steam engines only, today it is being hauled by both steam and diesel engines. NFR has already introduced Vista dome coaches in DHR, through which nature lover tourists can have a better scenic view of Himalayan terrain during the journey.
The construction of the 2 feet (610 mm) wide gauge DHR was started in 1879. It reached Tindharia in March, 1880 and upto Ghum in April, 1881. The first train finally reached Darjeeling on 4th July, 1881. Initially there were four complete loops and four Z – reverses. But today DHR has three loops and six Z-reverses and a ride through them is stunningly breath-taking.
The UNESCO inscription on DHR read “The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 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.”
NFR hopes that the celebration the 20 years of “World Heritage” declaration would help to further promote the DHR in both national and international platforms from tourism point of view.