The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the first, and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger Railway. Open in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing and effect rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact. While Darjeeling was growing, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson was crusading his battle for railway extension in India. In 1849, he was able to extract favourable conditions including a guarantee of return on the capital. He promoted East Indian Railway Co. (EIR).
In 1858, Eastern Bengal Railway (EBR), a private company got concession for construction and management of Railway lines commencing from the left bank of Hooghly towards the Eastern and Northern part of Bengal, including a line to Darjeeling, but the directors were not willing to invest money in extensions including the one to Darjeeling as that might not be profitable. However, NBR(Northern Bengal State Railway) had no plan to take the rails to the hills, mainly because the hills were considered a formidable sphere. Where EBR and NBR failed as corporate organizations, Prestage succeeded, as an individual entrepreneur.
The Franklin Prestage, the agent of guaranteed Eastern Bengal Railway was fascinated by the ethereal views of Kanchenjunga floating in the mists of Darjeeling. When he took up the agent ship of EBR, the state owned Northern Bengal Railway was in advanced stage of construction of a line to Siliguri.
Tourist Destination with Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Through the Roof of the World
One of the most amazing engineering feats of the world, even more amazing about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is that it is fully operational even a century after it was built
“It is the most enjoyable day I have spent on earth.”
– Mark Twain, after a trip on DHR in 1896