Hop On The Nilgiri Mountain Rail For India's Slowest Train Journey

Journeying aboard the Nilgiri Mountain Railway with its unhurried pace, picturesque vistas, and nostalgic charm is an experience that shouldn't be missed
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Nilgiri Mountain RailwayShutterstock

Train travel has an inherent allure that captivates the hearts of many travellers. For those yet to embrace this passion, an expedition aboard India's slowest train, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, promises a transformative experience. Fondly known as the Ooty Toy Train, this historic narrow-gauge railway traverses the picturesque landscapes of the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, offering a journey that's both charming and serene.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is celebrated for its leisurely pace and breathtaking scenery. Its gentle crawl, travelling at a leisurely nine kilometres per hour, covers a distance of 46 kilometres in a relaxed span of five hours, a pace significantly slower—almost 16 times—than India's fastest trains.

The train's unhurried journey through the Nilgiri mountains is a deliberate outcome of the steep gradient it encounters en route. Ascending from the foothills of the Nilgiris at Mettupalayam to the elevated town of Ooty, this train's unhurried pace perfectly matches the rugged terrains it navigates.

A Journey Worth Savouring

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway isn't just about reaching a destination; it's an exquisite journey that promises a treasure trove of experiences. Venturing through 16 tunnels, traversing 250 bridges, and negotiating 208 steep curves, this UNESCO World Heritage site offers a unique passage through the diverse flora and fauna of the Western Ghats mountain range.

The journey retains its nostalgic charm with vintage steam locomotives
The journey retains its nostalgic charm with vintage steam locomotivesShutterstock

Schedule and Stops

The train's schedule, managed by IRCTC, sees it departing Mettupalayam at 7:10 am, arriving in Ooty by noon. On its return journey, it starts from Ooty at 2 pm and reaches Mettupalayam by 5:35 pm. The route boasts several key stations, such as Coonoor, Wellington, Aravankadu, Ketti, and Lovedale. The journey retains its nostalgic charm with vintage steam locomotives, although some sections have incorporated diesel engines in response to heightened tourism demands.

Seating and Reservations

The carriages of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, sporting an iconic blue and cream hue, are made of wood and encompass four coaches, accommodating First Class with 72 seats and Second Class with 100 seats. To meet the surge in tourism, an additional coach was introduced in 2016, enhancing passenger capacity.

Booking Your Journey

To embark on this remarkable rail experience, reservations can be made through the IRCTC website. Considering the surge of tourists during holidays and weekends, advance booking is advisable to secure your seat and relish this leisurely journey through the stunning Nilgiri Hills.

Outlook Traveller