Ready to start
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was finished in 1908 to make it easier for the memsahibs' journey here to Ooty. It is a metre gauge rack and pinion railway going up from 400m to 2000m in 46km. There is just one up and one down train a day. We got up at 4.30am to taxi down the mountain to catch the 7.10am train back up! (OK - sounds daft. But this is a UNESCO Heritage railway!) Four carriages, full of tourists and ordinary travellers. The steep first 30km to Coonoor
is still operated by the original steam engines and takes 4 hours. The train is pushed up, engine at the rear. Luckily, we got seats in the First Class leading compartment (carriage probably also 100 years old) with good views ahead, only slightly obscured by the motormen who were on an open front platform checking the line ahead. They stopped the train twice to remove rocks from the track. Three times, at small stations including Runneymede and Wellington, we stopped for 10/15 minutes for the engine to take water and the fireman to clear out the clinker. We all de-trained to look at the views and the scene. At Hill Grove, we had a longer stop for loos, snacks and generally a walk around. We swapped to a diesel engine at Coonoor, but the final 16km were still leisurely and we arrived at 12.30pm, 30 minutes late. Five hours 20 minutes for 46km - a great morning.