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Heritage hope for Kalka-Shimla line

business Updated: Feb 27, 2008 04:21 IST
Satyen Mohapatra

The Kalka-Shimla rail line is likely to become a World Heritage site, Lalu Prasad said, making India the only country to have four railway world heritage sites.

The rail line, completed in 1903, is a 762 mm narrow gauge facility connecting Shimla, the sahib’s summer capital, to Kalka. The line from Kalka, 2,152 feet above sea level, moves still higher to Shimla, at 6,811 feet. In the path are 103 tunnels, 864 bridges and 919 curves.

Rajesh Agrawal, the Railway Board executive director (Heritage), said: “India is the only country other than Austria to have Railway World Heritage sites. Whereas Austria has only one, the Semmering Railway, we would have four — the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Chattrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway… and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, which is being anticipated to be declared world heritage site in 2008.”

The Heritage Directorate was created after Lalu Prasad took over the ministry, he said.

By creating this route, the British effectively linked their then summer capital to the plains and served as the new route for the Himalayan Tibet Road in the nineteenth century.

“The Kalka-Shimla Railway is an outstanding achievement of engineering to create a cultural corridor through difficult mountainous terrain with ingenious tunnelling, viaducts and intelligent track geometry,” Agrawal said. “The tag as World Heritage Site will make this a major international destination,” he added.

“In the last three-four years, the Railways made a complete turnaround. Also, for the first time it emphasized on heritage since Indian railways is not only a great transportation utility but a great cultural institution for India’s development in the last 150 years remaining as a life line of India,” Agrawal said.