Taking a trip on the historic UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla toy train is like traveling back in time.

The railway, built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla, provides one of the most scenic train journeys in India. It enlivens passengers as it gradually winds its way steeply upwards along the narrow track, through rugged mountains and pine forests.


Kalka and Shimla are located just north of Chandigarh, in India’s mountainous northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The captivating train route connects both places. It runs for 96 kilometers (60 miles) though 20 railway stations, 103 tunnels, 800 bridges, and an incredible 900 curves.

The longest tunnel, which stretches for more than a kilometer, is near the main railway station at Barog. The most spectacular scenery occurs from Barog to Shimla. The train’s speed is greatly restricted by the steep gradient that it has to climb, but this allows for plenty of fascinating sightseeing along the way.

Tourist Train Services

In addition to two passenger trains, there are three regular tourist train services that run on the Kalka Shimla railway. These are:

Do note that none of the trains have air conditioning, except for the new Vistadome carriage that’s been added to the Kalka-Shimla NG Express passenger train (see below).

To have the most comfortable experience, choose either the Shivalik Deluxe Express or Rail Motor Car. Unless you travel in first class, common complains about the Himalayan Queen are overcrowding, hard bench seats, dirty toilets and nowhere to store luggage.

Timetable from Kalka to Shimla

Trains from Kalka to Shimla run daily as follows:

Timetable from Shimla to Kalka

To Kalka, trains run daily from Shimla as follows:

Train Fares

The train fares are as follows:

Extra Holiday Services

In addition to the normal train services, special trains operate during the busy holiday seasons in India. This is usually from May to July, September and October, and December and January.

One of these trains is the Shivalik Special, with premium carriages. Currently it runs from Shimla to Kalka, with one departure per day at 3.50 p.m. Travel time is about five and a half hours, with nine stops.

New Hop-On-Hop-Off Service

In October 2018, Indian Railways announced that it is introducing a hop-on-hop-off service, on a six month trial basis, on all trains on the Kalka-Shimla railway. Passengers are able to board any carriage of any train along the route, subject to availability. Tickets can be purchased from railway stations along the route. The cost for one day is 500 rupees for adults and 250 rupees or children. Two-day tickets cost 800 rupees for adults and 400 rupees for children. For three days, the cost is 1,000 rupees for adults and 500 rupees for children.It will be interesting to see how it works, given the timings of the trains!

Special Carriages

In December 2018, Indian Railways added a special Vistadome carriage to the 52453/52454 Kalka-Shimla NG Express. The carriage features a glass roof and modified windows to provide panoramic views. Initially, passengers will need to buy tickets at the counter until it becomes possible to make online bookings.

There are two heritage carriages that sometimes run on the Shimla-Kalka route as part of the Special Heritage Train. The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach was built in 1966, while the Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach dates back to 1974. Both carriages were recently refurbished to become part of the new train service, which aims to recreate the bygone era for passengers. Charter tour packages are offered by Indian Railways. More information is available here.

Indian Railways has also announced plans to revamp the first class carriages of the Shivalik Deluxe Express.

Train Reservations

Tickets can be booked online on the Indian Railways website or at Indian Railways booking offices. It’s recommended that you book as early as possible, especially during the summer months from April to June.

Here’s how to make a reservation on the Indian Railways website. The Indian Railways codes for the stations are Kalka “KLK” and Simla (no “h”) “SML”.

Travel Tips

The best views are on the right side of the train when going to Shimla, and the left side when returning.

If you find it necessary to stay overnight at Kalka, there are very few accommodations to choose from. A better option is to head to Parwanoo, a few kilometers away. Himachal Pradesh Tourism has an unremarkable hotel there (The Shivalik hotel). Alternatively, it you want to splurge, Moksha Spa is one of the top Himalayan spa resorts in India.

The Better India Starry Nights & Snowy Peaks: Check out Pics of Kalka-Shimla Rail’s New Vistadome Coach! Promotion A thin mist envelops the sky and the billion stars that embellish it. The mighty Himayalas surround you as your train chugs through the idyllic town of Shimla. While you are sitting inside a train, you can get a perfect view of the gorgeous surroundings. Fantastic, isn’t it? The trial run of the Vistadome coach by the Indian Railways was completed successfully on Sunday, 11 November 2018 and you will soon be able to embark upon this dreamlike journey. Here are seven things to know about the train:
1. The Kalka-Shimla railway track is a UNESCO World Heritage site and falls under the Ambala division of Northern railways.
Now the Vistadome coach, which has been named Nihaar, makes it a one-of-its-kind route.
2. Thanks to a 12-mm-thick glass on the roof and door of the Vistadome, passengers can enjoy a panoramic view of the pristine Himalayas as they travel on the 4+ hour journey. The new coach by Indian Railways.
capacity to seat 36 passengers and will be equipped with

3. To make the journey even more interesting, the coach will have revolving chairs as well as bio-vacuum toilets, which among many more amenities, will make your travel fun.
4.  Passengers can now soak in the beautiful landscape with better vision through the glass top ceiling of the newly converted coach.” You may also like: ‘Library On Wheels’: Indian Railways’ New Move Just Made Your Journeys More Interesting!
5. Although the timing, fare and a total number of coaches are yet to be decided by the Ministry, the successful trial run shows promise that Shimla-Kalka train will begin operations very soon.