| Nilgiri Mountain Railway traverses
46 km of twists and turns from Mettupalayam to the hill resort
of Ootacamund at a speed of 33 km an hour. Snaking through 16
tunnels and tall girder bridges, the climb offers breathtaking
vistas of plantation and fir-clad hills. The Nilgiri Mountain
Railway is considered a marvel engineering skill in the construction
of railway lines. It is the only one of its kind in India which
runs on a rack. This railway, which starts at Mettupalayam at
the foot of the Nilgiris and terminates at Ootacamund, covering
a distance of about 45 kms, takes its course through a rugged
and densely wooded mountainous terrain, most frightful and forbidding
in certain places.
For the first five miles, the line winds its way through
a level country of areca and coconut plantations and then
starts the ghat section. The entire line is punctuated by
long and eerie tunnels piercing through mountains, numerous
bridges over deep ravines and gushing mountain streams, perilous
The mountain railway was completed only upto Coonoor from
Mettupalayam by June 1899 by the Madras Railway Company a
British firm under an agreement with the Government of Madras.
It was extended to Oootacamund by 1908. There are five stations
between Mettupalyam and Coonoor - Kallar, Adderley, Hill Grove,
Runnymede, and Kateri. There were also five stations between
Coonoor and Ooty-Wellington, Aruvakadu, Ketti, Lovedale and
Fernhill - but the last named was closed down some years ago.
The question of electrifying the entire line from Mettupalayam
and Coonoor was mooted and an estimate for Rs.31,29,000 was
prepared for the purpose as early as in 1908 but the proposal
was dropped for reasons not
known. Chugging along for almost a century now, on and off,
the line is threatened by the authorities with closure but
the journey is nonchalant.
Nilgiri Express (Train No 6055) leaves Madras Central at
9.05 PM and reaches Mettuplayam around 7.20 AM. The mountain
railway leaves Mettuplayam at 7.45 AM and reaches Ooty at
12 noon. One can get a ticket to Ooty from Madras. During
Summer season one more train also leaves Mettuplayam at 9.45
AM and reaches Ooty by 2 PM.