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Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Ooty

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was built by the British between 1899 and 1908 using the system designed by the Swiss engineer Nikolaus Riggenbach. The rack and pinion section climbing 1’326 meters from Mettupalayam to Coonor is still operated with steam engines of Swiss Locomotive Works design. You have to get up early to catch the only train of the day that leaves at 7:10 am. Excited vacationers crowd the platform and storm the small coaches of this meter gauge line. Morning mists stick mystically to the forests covering the steeply rising mountainsides. The engine huffs and puffs as it pushes the carriages over many viaducts and through tunnels. Every now and then, it takes a break to take on water, get oiled and build up new steam. Our engine only needs one minor repair on the fly, so we cover the 28 km to Coonor in just over 4 hours – 7km/h! For the rest of the trip to Ooty a diesel engine takes over and travels the remaining 18 km in just one hour. The NMR is part of the UNESCO World Heritage system.

I found a passionate and detailed description of the NRM and its story on Amazon: Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) : From Lifeline to Oblivion by  V.M. Govind Krishnan (Kindle edition available)

Click any pic to view gallery in full screen. Don’t miss video at bottom.

While I was busy with my camera, my wife did her best with her phone. Please excuse us for bad weather and occasional smears on the lens.


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