Posted in Kafevend Blog
How've you managed to shoehorn a railway into a predominantly tea, coffee and chocolate oriented blog, I hear you say? Aha! This railway transported tea and coffee, so there's your tangential link, and this blog doesn't have to take a detour via doughnuts along the way!
In the Tamil Nadu state in the south of India lies the Nilgiri mountain railway, a 28.5 mile long line that possesses a number of astonishing attributes: 250 bridges, 208 curves and 16 tunnels are present on the line which at times can reach a gradient of 1 in 12. A rack and pinion system is in place on certain parts of the line to assist the fleet of 60-80 year old Swiss steam trains that still traverse the railway, carrying passengers up and down at rather (un)dizzying speeds. A trip up to Ooty from Mettupalayam takes almost 5 hours!
The line was first proposed in 1854 by the British, though it wasn't finished until some 50 years later in 1908. Tea plantations were and still are a big feature of this landscape, laying sprawled across the hills- the Nilgiri line passes by many as it makes its ascent. However, the original reason for the line was to make the Nilgiri range more accessible to Europeans who had summer homes in the area, due to the cooler mountain air. Eventually, it became common practice for the entire Indian government to move to the area during the summer. Many roads and railway lines were built to facilitate this pseudo migration.