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Indian Hill Railways – #2/3 – The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

11/04/2019

Docuwiki

From the Himalayas in the north to the Nilgiris in the south – for a hundred years these little trains have climbed through the clouds and into the wonderful world of Indian hill railways.

 The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a line so close to the people that it flows like a river through their lives. The relationship between the train and the people is changing, however, as a new generation of Gurkhas populates these hills, demanding an independent state and fighting for a new identity as they journey into the modern Indian world.

 The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a romantic line, popular with honeymooners and driven by love and devotion as well as steam. It chugs through the south Indian jungle up to a hill station, once known as Snooty Ooty. The current guard is Ivan. Married for twenty years, he is concerned about his friend Jenni, the ticket inspector, because he’s still a bachelor – but Jenni has a secret. In the engine shed, Shivani, the railway’s first female diesel engineer, is working on a steam loco. She has to make it look its best, as in the year of filming, 1999, the railway celebrated its centenary. The high point is the Black Beauty competition to pick the best engine on the line, but rains and landslides threaten the proceedings and the tourist business. Will love win out in the end?

 The Kalka-Shimla Railway

Shimla was once the summer capital of the Raj. They built churches, schools, a town hall and the railway and left behind their symbols of empire and an ethos of duty, loyalty and ambition – but they also left a divided subcontinent. Characters featured include Maqsood, a refugee and a porter from Kashmir, and John Whitmarsh-Knight, a teacher looking for a home. Sanjay the station master is hoping for promotion and his boss Bataljit is waiting for a transfer, but everybody is waiting for the snow.

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