Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway

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Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway 1942.jpg
1942 map
Line of route
Siliguri to Darjeeling
Siliguri to Kalimpong Road
Siliguri to Kishanganj
Gauge / mileage
2' 0" NG 51 miles (1905)
147 miles (1943)
1879 Company formed
1880 First section opened to traffic
1881 Line opened through to Darjeeling
1913 Extension to Kishanganj planned
1948 Nationalisation
Key locations
Presidency Bengal
Stations Siliguri, Sukna, Rangtong, Chunbatti, Tindharia, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Dilaran, Sonada, Rangbul, Jor Bungalow, Ghum, Darjeeling
Kalimpong Road, Kishanganj
System agency
1880 Own agency
1952 North Eastern Railway (IR zone)
1958 Northeast Frontier Railway (IR zone)
How to interpret this infobox
Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway Map 1909

The Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway (DHR), a 2ft/610mm narrow gauge(NG) line dating from 1879 and still powered by steam, is today a major tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage site.


Originally known as the Darjeeling Steam Tramway this 2ft Narrow Gauge(NG) steam tramway and largely ran in the road. Hence the appropriate name. 'Gillanders Arbuthnot & Co' constructed the railway.

The stretch from Siliguri to Kurseong was opened on 23 August 1880, while the official opening of the line up to Darjeeling was on 4 July 1881. [1].
See Darjeeling Steam Tramway for information before 1881

The name changed to the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway Company on the company being formed on 15th September 1881.Built between 1879 and 1881, the original line ran (and still does) for 51 miles from Siliguri (about 100m in altitude) to Darjeeling (about 2200m).

In 1913, the system was extended from Siliguri south-westwards to Kishanganj. There was also a short branch from Siliguri to Kalimpong Road. Technically, these extensions were a separate company, worked by the agency of the first. [2]

As an assisted railway, the DHR fell into the control of Indian Railways (IR) after independence. Between 1948 and 1950, the Kishanganj branch was converted to metre gauge and transferred, as part of the Assam Rail Link, to the Assam Railway. In 1952, the DHR became part of North Eastern Railway but in 1958 it was transferred to the newly formed Northeast Frontier Railway, an IR zone.


Refer to FIBIS Fact File #4: “Research sources for Indian Railways, 1845-1947” - available from the Fibis shop. This Fact File contains invaluable advice on 'Researching ancestors in the UK records of Indian Railways' with particular reference to the India Office Records (IOR) held at the British Library

An on-line search of the IOR records relating to this railway (DHR) and the DHR Extensions [3] gives 6 references. The most important being:-

  • L/F/8/17/1291 “Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway Company Limited, Agreement; 1913 “
  • L/F/8/20/1673 “Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company Limited, Supplemental Agreement; 1922”

External links

Historical books online