An unforgettable ride in the Nilgiri Mountain Train

The train station a Coonoor
The train station a Coonoor

I’m not really tall, but when I step into the old fashioned coach and take seat in the famous Nilgiri mountain train that takes me from Ooty to Coonnoor my knees do not fit and hit against the seat ahead. Uuh, that’s straight! It’s winter, around 25 degrees Celsius and I am happy not to stay here in summer times although Ooty is famous for its pleasant climate.

Some more tourists enter, mostly Indians, I assume, some maybe coming from other Asian countries, mostly Chinese people. Some young couples who enjoy probably some holidays or spend a weekend in the mountains. And some military people – well, in Coonoor, situated in the lap of the lush green Nilgiris and surrounded by innumerable tea plantations and eucalyptus trees, there is a huge military base.
When going to Ooty, a ride with the Nilgiri mountain train from Ooty to Coonoor or viceversa is “mandatory”. The Nilgiri Railway Company constructed the railway from 1886 to 1899 between Mettupalaiyam and Coonoor using ‘alternate biting teeth’ technology in the ‘Rack and Pinion’ arrangement between the rails. The railway has the steepest gradient of 1:12 in the Indian Railways… and the view during the ride should be simply great. So, I am curious to find out more.

A coulorful village
A coulorful village

The train is not really full and I’ m very happy that I can take a two seater to feel a little bit more space around.
After a while the train starts to move. We pass for a lake, enter into the woods and an incredible landscape makes me forget any uncomfortable seat experience. Large valleys, steep mountains, incredible colorful small villages…
At a certain point a fog front climbs down from one hill and just a few seconds later the fog covers everything. The tea plantages seem to be irrealistic, they are decorating the hills and makes them feel very light, like waves of green, playing a sound…

Tea fields
Tea fields

After another curve the sun reappears, everything seems to be re-born. At some small train stations two, three people leave the train, a young man comes with some sweets in small plastic bags fixed at a wooden stick and tries to sell it…

Selling sweets at the train station
Selling sweets at the train station

When the train arrives at the station in Coonnoor it seems that the time has passed too quick. I could have stayed there for many more hours and just watching out of the windows. The knees? The straight surroundings? The humid temperatures? Well, I have not even noticed them any more during the last hour…
This train ride is a must!

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