Tunnel Number 33

#1 Oct 15th, 2017, 13:32
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Tunnel No. 33 is 1.14 km long is the longest straight tunnel in the railways. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

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It is imperturbably quiet. The few locomotives in the yard are motionless. Gangmen go about their work. From the platform’s far edge, one can see the low hills of the Shivalik range, silhouetted against a cloudless sky. There is a hint of moving mist over their wooded tops.

The breaks release and the wheels clang as Train No. 52453 gets in motion. The first, tentative movement is through sal and silk-cotton clusters. Blades of wild grass on both sides of the tracks are speckled with dew that catch the first shafts of light. We are mostly in a silent glide before the engine imparts more combustion to climb higher.

There is the sudden scent of chir pines in the early autumnal air. The bird calls, still audible, are intermittently muffled by the mournful, contrapuntal horn of the old engine. As the foothills turn steeper, the rickety, rackety train puffs and huffs up the sharper gradients over masonry bridges and through endless tunnels amidst dense pines. The grandness of the engineering conception is unmissable.

Trundling through valleys

It’s a two-hour, 40 km journey to the quaint Barog station in Solan district in Himachal Pradesh. The Kalka-Simla Railway is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Trains operate over 880 bridges, over 919 turns and through 102 tunnels. That is the techno-engineering aspect. The slow trundle through the hills and valleys covered with pines, deodars, oaks, willows and blooming rhododendrons is the aesthete’s reward.

When a passing cloud lifts on the back of a strong wind, faraway mountains with snow peaks appear momentarily.

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Barog town derives its name from the railway station. It is a small hill station. At about 4,500 ft in the Himalayan foothills, it is mildly cold. In the British era, hill trains would stop here for an hour, and sahibs and memsahibs would have a leisurely and elaborate meal. The dining hall with the viewing gallery is still intact. The dusty plains of the Punjab would become peremptorily forgotten strands of memory and the ascent of the hills, with their coniferous crowns, truly began here.
The Hindu
#2 Oct 18th, 2017, 11:56
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It's considered as one of the haunted places.

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