Ghum

Darjeeling, West Bengal

#Hill Station #Nature and Scenic


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Ghum is a small hilly locality in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region of West Bengal, India. It comes under ward number one of the Darjeeling Municipality. Ghum railway station of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the highest railway station in India. It is situated at an altitude of 2,258 metres (7,407 ft). The place is the home of the Ghum Monastery and the Batasia Loop, a bend of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Ghum is the meeting point of several roads. The Hill Cart Road from Siliguri to Darjeeling runs through the town. It is 6 km from Darjeeling. It is 24 km from Kurseong via Sonada. Kalimpong is about 45 km away via Lopchu. Another road leads to Mongpu and then on to the Kalimpong-Siliguri road. There is a road to Kurseong via Dow Hill. Sukhiapokhri, almost on the India-Nepal border, is 11 km on the road to Mirik.

Construction of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway started in 1879 and the railway track reached Ghum on 4 April, 1881. Until 1878, the journey from Kolkata to Darjeeling took 5–6 days – using steam-engine-pulled trains, crossing the Ganges by steam ferry at Sahebganj, and then using bullock carts and palanquins. In 1878, Siliguri was put on the railway map of India, cutting down the journey to two days. In 2007, the train journey from Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri (a new railway station 6 km from Siliguri) takes about 10 hours. Thereafter it is 3–4 hours to Ghum or Darjeeling by road or 6–7 hours by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Those who are not eager to travel all the way from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling by the slow train climbing up the hill can enjoy a ride on the tourist train from Darjeeling to Ghum and back.

After climbing from Siliguri to Ghum, the train starts descending about 182.9 m (1,000 ft) to Darjeeling, first crossing the graceful double loop at Batasia (meaning windy place).

Ghum is claimed by some tourist literature to be the highest railway station in the world. In this context, it may be noted that the Qingzang railway in China, connecting Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, operates at heights of 4,000 metres to above 5,000 metres. The line was opened in 2006. In Switzerland, the Jungfraubahn (JB) is an 1 m (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge rack railway which runs 9 kilometres from Kleine Scheidegg to the highest railway station in Europe at Jungfraujoch (elevation 3471 m.)

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