DHARAMSHALA, Himalaya travel, India travel, Photo essays, PHOTOGRAPHY, Pictures, Projects, TRAVEL

The Kangra Valley Railway

Running 163 kilometres from Pathankot in Punjab to Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh, the Kangra Valley Railway is one of the last of its kind: a narrow gauge railway in original working condition that still serves a local community. In other parts of the world, these railways have either been torn up or turned into tourist attractions, while in India many are being converted to broad gauge in the interests of efficiency. Not only is the Kangra Railway a survivor, it is also one of the most beautifully aligned tracks in the world, taking passengers past deep gorges, picturesque rivers and lush forest as it makes its way up from the plains of Punjab to the snow-flanked ranges of the Dhauladhar. Many of the stations are beautifully maintained and in original condition, while the route includes some exceptional bridges, two of which are pictured here. Built in the 1920s to ferry turbines to a hydroelectric dam, the line survives partly because it goes nowhere in particular. Although it comes within striking distance of the towns of Palampur and Kangra, and offers a kind of access to the pilgrim sites of Jawalamukhi, Baijnath and Chamunda, most of the passengers are locals who use the service because it is cheaper than the bus, or it happens to pass their village. The railway is a bit too obscure to be upgraded, and remote enough that the highways have not made it obsolete. Long may it last.

Angus McDonald

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About moonpeak

Moonpeak is an online and print magazine published in McLeodganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India. It features articles and interviews about travel, photography and books, with a focus on South Asia and Tibet. The magazine is based at Moonpeak cafe, restaurant and gallery on Temple Road, McLeodganj.

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