Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Engine (part 4)

History by  Tony Phillips

Tindharia station is where the company workshops are located. In the section of just under four miles between Tindharia and Gyabari stations the heaviest average gradient, 1 in 28 has to be faced. After a zigzag outside Tindharia station comes the fourth and final spiral or loop. This is generally regarded as the most sensational spot on the line, and is called "Agony Point." It represents the ascent of another of the conical spurs which are common in the locality. Originally there was so little room that on the upper part of the loop a curve of 59 ft. radius had to be described, the train practically overhanging the hillside at this point, but improvements were carried out later and the curve was somewhat eased.

Rounding "Agony Point"

The train passes "Agony Point" and proceeds, encountering another zigzag just before Gyabari station. The station stands at an altitude of 3,516 ft. Just beyond it the fourth and last zigzag, or reverse, is negotiated, and the gradient .becomes slightly easier, 1 in 32 for the succeeding four miles to Mahanuddy, 4,120 ft. above sea-level and twenty-seven miles from Siliguri.

In the gorges below, it is said that a Nepalese head-man in charge of the men working on the road to Darjeeling shot a large Himalayan bear. As he had no lead for bullets, he used copper coins.

A stream called the "Mad Torrent“ marks the half-way distance to Darjeeling. At the twenty-seventh mile the train passes a precipitous rock-face where the road was blasted out, in some place, for a depth of 50 ft. Near Mahanuddy station is a waterfall with a drop of 150 ft., which is the source of the Mahanuddy River. The gradient eases to about 1 in 32, and the train proceeds westwards towards Kurseong station, which is at an altitude of 4,864 ft. Before the station is reached some bluff rocks are passed. The town is of some importance, and has a considerable trade. There are some splendid views of the plains from the heights near the town 7,400 ft. Above Sea-Level

After leaving Kurseong the grade stiffens slightly to 1 in 31 to Toong station, a distance of about five miles. After Toong the gradient increases to a little over 1 in 29 for the five miles to Sonada, 6,552 ft. above the sea and forty-one miles from Siliguri. Then comes the easiest section of the mountain climb, about six miles long, to Ghoom, the summit, which is 7,407 ft. above sea-level, and forty-seven miles from Siliguri. The gradient eases to about 1 in 37, and the line passes through magnificent forests.