Steam locomotives and heritage railway stations
Where else in the world can you get more than 2 hours of metre gauge train ride with vintage steam locomotives, heritage railway stations, beautiful mountains, valleys and forests all around. No wonder that it has been recognised as part of UNESCO world heritage. Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a wonder in India which needs to be experienced in all its glory. Fascinating is a clear understatement.
Romance of Steam
There would not be too many things in this world as romantic as a steam locomotive. When such a steam loco is an ancient machine still in working condition, the charm is palpable. The romance turns into a serious love affair. Steam, smoke and sound – together they make a heady cocktail. From my childhood, I have looked with great admiration every loco driver that came by. Steam locos have had a special place. These drivers have been my heroes. Would never miss an opportunity to chat up with this special tribe.
Steam loco at Coonoor loco workshop
Black beauty up close
The X class steam locomotives that power trains between the stretch of Coonoor to Mettupalayam of Nilgiri Mountain Railway are wonderful machines which are kept running by equally wonderful technicians of Indian Railways who work diligently at the steam loco workshop at Coonoor. Unlike the Light and Sound shows at various archaeological sites, watching these beauties is a Sight and Sound show. Mechanical engineering at its best ! Any youngster who watches these Swiss origin machines up close is bound to be inspired to be a fine mechanical engineer or a technician.
The Man and the Machine
Coonoor Railway Station
Like all pretty rail stations of Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Coonoor is no exception. The heritage structure seems to be in good shape and the presence of steam locomotive workshop ensures activity throughout the day with lots of steam, smoke and sound in the air.
Water stop at Hillgrove station
When you see closely the entire process involved in running and maintaining steam locomotives, you cannot help but get involved in it. Each step is part of a ritual which the technicians and engine drivers perform with the same rigour and meticulousness with which a priest would go about performing a pooja. The degree of involvement may be actually higher. This X class steam locomotive is enjoying its water stop at Hillgrove on Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
The Blue Station
Another quaint little station on Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Hardly a soul around. There is some life only when few trains in the day arrive. At other times, it is a ghost station. The staff here would have plenty of time to do their thing, may be read, write, chat, smoke or simply sleep.
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