20th July 2013
Nilgiri mountain railway is the railway line connecting towns
of Mettupalyam and Ooty. The distance of about 42 km is covered by crossing 16
tunnels and 250 bridges, gaining (or losing) altitude of about 6100 feet. The
section between Ooty and Coonoor is run by Diesel engines while stream engines
rule Coonoor-Mettupalyam stretch. There is only one train that leaves
Mettupalyam at 7:10AM. The same train starts back from Ooty at 2PM. But several
trains run between Ooty and Coonoor.
We had travelled on Ooty-Coonoor section few years ago. My
daughter always wanted to travel on “Toy train”. Hence we made a plan of
driving to Coonoor and taking the train to Mettupalyam. My friend Sankara and his family also joined
us. The date was decided based on the availability of tickets!!
Bengaluru-Mysore road is now infested with speed breakers. I
had counted 89 of them few weeks ago!! So, we decided to try out an alternate
but faster route of
Bengaluru->Salem->Avinashi->Mettupalyam->Coonoor. It was a good
decision as Mysore->Ooty road was blocked due to heavy rains.
But our luck ran out just before Coonoor. The driver of an
army truck lost his balance. The vehicle turned 90 degrees and got struck in
the road resulting in pile up of vehicles on both sides. Even two wheelers
could not pass though the broken vehicle.
It was already 1:15PM. Kids were already hungry. Hence it
was decided that Sankara would wait in his while others would cross to the
other side, take an auto and reach hotel, have lunch and proceed to railway station.
We hoped things would be clear by then. It was grateful to see the auto driver
not taking advantage of the situation to hike the price. Later, at the hotel,
people were surprised to see us, the tourists coming without any luggage.
During the process, auto driver told us an alternate route
to enter Coonoor. We relayed the information back to Sankara. It turned out to
be useful information as he was able to make it to the railway station just in
The first tunnel encountered after crossing Coonoor.
My daughter who was overjoyed by the experience, posed for a
The train then passes though the jungles.
At some places, it runs next to the highway connecting
Coonoor and Mettupalyam.
A small tunnel on the way.
The hills and the plains seen from railway. Though the plain
looks very near, train takes a long route to descend slowly.
‘Hillgrove’ is the only station where train stops. It is
mainly to fill water!! One can use this time to have some light snacks and tea
at railway hotel or freshen up (There are no toilets in the train).
One of the several bridges that we crossed that day.
Bridge seen after crossing it. What you see behind are not
clouds but smoke emanating from steam locomotive.
The middle line is used for braking. It uses Abt rack and pinion system
(More info on that here).
A section where rocks are cut to make railway line.
It’s rainbow time!!
The last bridge and tunnel combo on the route!!
Let’s take a look back at the route we came!!
The Bhavani River at Mettupalyam.
- Tickets for this train can be booked using irctc website.
- There is very little difference between ‘first class’ and ‘second
- It is possible to purchase tickets at railway station. But
it can be crowded.
- This train connects to “Nilgiri express” coming from/going
to Chennai. Few tickets are reserved for people from that train.
- Most of the tunnels and bridges are between Coonoor and
- “Chaiyya Chaiyya” song from “Dil se” was shot on this
Labels: nilgiris, railways, travel