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Nilgiri Railway

Route: Mettupalayam - Coonoor – Ooty

The Nilgiri Railway

nilgiri railwayThis Nilgiri Rail system is unique as it is the steepest one in Asia. It is a 46 Km long and runs on 1000 mm gauge railway connecting Mettupalayam to Ooty. Both towns are in the state of Tamil Nadu.

It covers a distance of 46 km in around 5 hours. It is interesting to note that the engine pushes the train from behind when ascending the hills and is in front, while going downhill so that the train does not run amuck. This is a truly amazing journey that takes tourists from a height of 1069 feet to 7228 feet.

The train itself is a charming blue and cream with wooden coaches and large windows. It is hauled up hills by steam engines, designed and built by the Swiss Locomotive Works. Twelve of such locomotive engines survive even today.

The journey itself from Mettupalayam to Ooty is full of scenic beauty enroute. The train passes amidst tranquil and serene views of Coonoor, Wellington, Lovedale to finally reach Ootacamund. It covers a total distance of 116 km and crosses 250 bridges and 16 tunnels.


It was in 1854, that the first plans were made to build a mountain Railway from Mettupalaiyam to the Nilgiri Hills. But it took the decision-makers 45 years to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and complete the construction and installation of the line.

The line was completed and opened for traffic in June 1899. It was operated first by the Madras Railway under an agreement with the Government.

The Madras Railway Company continued to manage this railway line on behalf of the government for a long time until the South Indian Railway company purchased it. The line was extended to Ootacamund from Coonoor some time in 1908 on the same gauge over a distance of 11 and 3/4 miles at a cost of Rs. 24,40,000.

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