Nestled at the foothills of Ooty – the Queen of Hill Stations, lies the Nilgiri Mountains, along the Western Ghats, and is an absolute delight to the eyes. This stretch of unparalleled beauty of nature is best experienced, by taking a ride on India’s only meter gauge train, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is a heritage train, that runs between Mettupalayam-Udagamandalam (Ooty) and operates as a fully reserved special train managed by the Southern Railways.
Voted as the top-rated attractions in Ooty, the entire stretch from Mettupalayam – Udhagamandalam is declared as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is locally dubbed as the Toy Train, and is a steam locomotive that pulls the coaches through power generated by a steam engine. A total of 4 pairs of fully reserved special trains run every day, with one pair that runs between Mettupalayam – Udhagamandalam, and three pairs of trains that run between Coonoor – Udhagamandalam.
The quaint blue colored train with wooden and cushioned coaches, marked with yellow highlights, and glass paned windows, is a sight to behold, and has the resemblance of a toy train. There are 4 compartments in a fully reserved special train, with a first class of 16 seats and a second-class of 214 seats. The heritage train is driven by a steam locomotive from Mettupalayam to Coonoor, and is replaced with a diesel locomotive from Coonoor to Ooty, as the uphill climb gets steeper and needs more power to pull the coaches. Interestingly enough, the engine is at the back during the uphill climb, and during the downhill climb, the engine is at the front to curb the speed.
The railway track is one of the steepest uphill climbs in Asia, and runs through 16 tunnels, 250 bridges, and 200 hair-pin bends, overlooking the Nilgiri Valley. The journey uphill lasts for 5 hours, and the train stops at 7 stations, whilst the return journey from Ooty to Mettupalayam takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. The first train of the day departs from the Mettupalayam station at 7:10 and arrives at Ooty at 12:00pm, and the return journey train departs from Ooty at 2:00pm and arrives at Mettupalayam around 5:35pm.
Many prefer to opt for the first phase from Mettupalayam – Coonoor, as the stretch has abundant scenic vistas of waterfalls, streams, dense forests, and mountains covered with clouds than the last phase from Coonoor to Ooty. For better views of the valley, opt for a seat on the right-side of the train from Mettupalayam – Coonoor, and the left side of the train from Ooty- Mettupalayam, and best time to visit is during spring, from October- June, and is best avoided during monsoons.
Ensure to book tickets two months prior to visit for reservations, and no more than 4 tickets per person is allowed. Carry a valid proof of identity with the e-ticket, and arrive early for departure at the station to avoid last minute hassles. Ticket fare from Mettupalayam to Ooty is 600 INR for first class and 295 INR for second class, and book online tickets through IRCTC website, app, or travel agent, or visit the reservation booking counter for direct booking.
Rajiv Gandhi Circle,
Near Mysore Road,
Ooty, Tamil Nadu 643003
Directions: Google Maps
Phone: 0755 – 6610661 /4090600