Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

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The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the “Toy Train”, is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, India. It is the first, and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger Railway. Built between 1879 and 1881, the railway is about 86 kilometres (53 mi) long. Its elevation level varies from about 100 metres (328 ft) at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. When the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, inscribed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999, started running in the 1880’s, it was the beginning of a new economic and social life for the surrounding communities. 

Darjeeling_Toy_Train_at_Batasia_Loop Four modern diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services: however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India’s highest railway station) are handled by the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotive, DHR 778. The railway, along with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, is listed as a Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site. The Mountain Railways of India are outstanding examples of hill railways.

The headquarters of the railway is in the town of Kurseong. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact. While Darjeeling was growing, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson was crusading his battle for railway extension in India.   Operating on narrow gauge tracks since 1880s and providing an important transport link to various parts of Darjeeling hills and lower plains, the Toy Train is still unmatched when it comes to absorbing magnificent beauty of the mountains. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway System is the spectacular example of the technical and cultural traits of the colonial era. These trains illustrate different phases of technical developments in the hill areas of the country.

Toy_Train The trains became known as toy trains as the loco engines and the coaches were far smaller than normal broad gauge trains. But there was no such thing as toy railway construction. It was like any other proper railway project, but much more complex because of the terrain. The narrow gauge line did restrict the weight and size of the engines.

DHR was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, only the second railway to have this honor bestowed upon it,the first one being Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998. The site must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations. 

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport (96 m), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Jalpaiguri (62 m), which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Road: The road network in Darjeeling is quite good, There are regular buses including Rocket and Volvo services between Kolkata (Calcutta) and Siliguri Main Bus Terminal (known as Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus located on Hill Cart Road).

 

 

 

Sundarbans National Park

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Sunderbans national park is located at the South Eastern tip of the 24 Paraganas district in the state of West Bengal, India. It is a National Park, tiger reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve in the Sundarbans delta. It got its name from one of the mangrove plants known as Sundari (Heritiera Minor). The mangrove forests are a part of the greater Sundarbans and lies in close proximity to the Sundarbans reserve forests in the neighboring republic of Bangladesh.  It contains the world’s largest area of mangrove forests. They are constituted by the crisscrossing of 54 small islands along with numerous River Ganges tributaries. Sundarbans National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southeast Bengal in India, which is formed by three rivers named Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It is considered as a World Network of Biosphere Reserve (Man and Biosphere Reserve) in 2001.

Sundarbans Sundarbans National Park, the land where entire wildlife  embroidered to the perfection, is situated in South 24 Parganas at the  most charismatic location of Sundarban delta which is largest delta of the world. The total area of the Indian part of the Sundarban forest, lying within the latitude between 21°13′-22°40′ North and longitude 88°05′-89°06′ East, is about 4,262 sq km, of which 2,125 sq km is occupied by mangrove forest across 56 islands and the balance is under water. 

Today this tiger conservation effort in the Sunderban area is really rocking the dense masses with the exemplified glaring of royal tigers in Bengal. It is estimated that there are now 400 Royal Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area. The forest is called ‘Sunderban’due to the rich growth of Sundari trees.

Flora:

Tiger_Sundarbans_Tiger_Reserve_22.07.2015 Sundarbans-national-park The mangrove vegetation of Sundarbans has 64 plant species with the capacity to withstand estuarine conditions and saline showering on account of tidal effects. There is mangrove scrub forest, salt water mixed forest, brackish water mixed forest and alluvial grasslands. Due to the dense and huge forest reserve, Sundarbans has also been classified as a World Biosphere Reserve. The crab-like red flowers of the kankra and the yellow flowers of khalsi can be seen. Some of the other commonly found plants and trees in the park are dhundal , passur, garjan,  sundari and goran. The forest in the Sunderbans mainly consists of Saline Water Type Mixed Forest, Tidal Swamp Forest, Brackish Water and Palm Forests. In general 64 various species of Flora has been discovered in the deltaic Sunderbans. 

Fauna:

SUNDARBANS_3 Sundarbans (Sundari Trees) The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 400 tigers. This area has a silent charm that manages to amaze one with the simplicity and naturalness of its ecological balance in spite of offering habitat to some of the most dynamic and awe inspiring fauna. it was discovered that the Bangladeshi part of the Sunderbans supports diverse biological resources that includes 150 species of commercially important fishes, 270 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 35 reptiles and 8 amphibian species. The royal Bengal tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are famous for their man-eating tendencies. Tigers can be seen on the river banks sunbathing between November and February. Apart from the Bengal tiger, Fishing cats, Leopard cats, Macaques, Wild boar, Indian grey mongoose, Fox, Jungle cat, Flying fox, Pangolin, Chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans. Some of the aquatic animals found in the park are sawfish, butter fish, electric rays, silver carp, starfish, common carp, horseshoe crabs, prawn, shrimps, Gangetic dolphins, skipping frogs, common toads and tree frogs.

Summers could be quite hot and send the temperature shooting up, but are an ideal time to visit the wildlife sanctuary. The monsoons with full generosity in showers may make travelling a little difficult but the lush green surroundings might just make up for it. The best time to visit Sunderbans is during winters between December and February.although the park is open for longer from September to March. This is the period when the maximum migratory birds are also present here.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Dum Dum Airport Kolkata (166 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Canning (48 km), regular local trains running between Canning and Kolkata.

By Road: Sundarban National Park is well connected with Kolkata – Basanti High way.

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