Little Engines that Could
Lots of educational travel adventures use boats, but while traveling by train may seem too close to your daily commute to be much of an adventure, the Mountain Railways of India are in a class by themselves. There are three railways in the groups: the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka Shimla Railway.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway opened in 1881 and runs 51 miles (82.1 kilometers) while gaining 7,007 feet (2,136 meters) in elevation. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway covers 29 miles (46.7 kilometers) through jungle and the Kalka Shimla Railway is 60 miles (96.6 kilometers) long and climbs 4,659 feet (1,420 meters). Together, the three lines use switchbacks, bridges and tunnels to make their routes. They were originally built by the British to connect rural India with the cities and move goods more efficiently.
The Mountain Railways of India still use much of the technology from when they were first opened. The Nilgiri Line is still steam driven. Weather conditions often shut down the routes for days at a time. But for a chance to see some amazing engineering that drastically altered the history and culture of India, a weather delay is just part of the adventure.