Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Museums in Darjeeling: Timings and entry fees

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has set up three museums in the Darjeeling district. The one at Ghoom is most famous and is part of the Joy Ride Tour. Two other museums are situated in Kurseong and Sukna in Darjeeling district. You can get all tourist information about DHR museums in Darjeeling including their location, timings, and entry fees.

Darjeeling is a place where history whispers. The winding roads, the colonial mansions, and above everything the UNESCO World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is living heritage. Built between 1879 and 1881, the DHR is an engineering marvel too – with the help of five loops and six zigzags, the narrow-gauge train gains an altitude of 7407 feet or 2226 meters at Ghoom, from 400 feet or 122 meters at Siliguri. The real ascend starts from Sukna (511 feet) though, and the train gains an altitude of nearly 900 feet in just 7 kilometres to arrive at the next station Rongtong. From Rongtong it again climbs 1400 feet in just 12 kilometres to reach the next station Tindharia. So you can imagine how steep the climb is and the British engineers really had a tough time figuring out how to tackle the elevation in the late nineteenth centuries. In fact, there are many stories and adages about how they achieved this engineering feat among the local populations which are very interesting.

The track with its zigzags and sharp loops like the Batasia Loop and the Agony Point has attracted railway enthusiasts, engineers, and travellers alike since ages. Before the construction of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Darjeeling was accessible from the Siliguri plains only by an unpaved cart road with steep gradients. It took 3 days to reach Darjeeling through that road. After the completion of the DHR, the travel time came down drastically to eight to ten hours from three days. As the train made it possible to go up to Darjeeling in less than one day, travellers began to flock. Many notable figures of the nineteenth century Bengal like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Swami Vivekananda, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Rishi Aurobindo, Swami Avedananda, and Sister Nivedita have travelled to Darjeeling on board the railways. Many other notable Indians also took the train to Darjeeling. The toy train carried several prominent Europeans as well, including the famous American novelist Mark Twain, who described his journey to Darjeeling by the DHR as his most memorable day on earth. Twain visited Darjeeling in February 1896, saying that "The railway journey up the mountain is forty miles, and it takes eight hours to make it. It is so wild and interesting and exciting and enchanting that it ought to take a week". In its life expanding to nearly 140 years till date, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has not only been witness to a lot of history but also created history itself.

Bits and parts of that history are preserved for the posterity in three DHR museums in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. The most famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum is at Ghoom, which is the highest point in terms of altitude in the entire route, as well as the highest railway station in India. The other two museums are at Kurseong, another hill station cum sanatorium by the colonial administrators, and Sukna, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas close to dense Sal forests and widespread tea gardens, from where the real ascend of the mountain begins en route to Darjeeling from Siliguri. In this article, I have tried to provide comprehensive information about all the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museums, with location details, entry fees, timings and much more. Keep reading!

1. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum, Ghoom

This is the most famous of the trio and probably the most visited one as well. The Joy Ride on the Darjeeling-Ghoom-Darjeeling train stops for some time Ghoom station, allowing the tourists to visit the museum which is located right in the station campus. The entry fee at DHR museum Ghoom is Rs. 20 per head, however, for the Joy Ride passengers it is free (or probably included in the train fare itself). The timings of the museum are 10 am to 1:30 pm and then again 2 to 4 pm. The museum has two sections, indoor and outdoor. The indoor section is located on the first floor right above the railway station where you can see several old photographs and other memorabilia. The outdoor section is right across the rail tracks, opposite the station, in a garden. You can see the rail engine called 'Baby Sivok' which hauled the first ever train to Darjeeling. There is also a compartment attached to it. You can go up close and inspect the interior of the engine, which is like going back to history in no time!

2. DHR Museum, Kurseong

This one is not as easy to locate as the Ghoom museum. Many people would search all over the station compound and still would not find the museum or will complain that it is closed. So, is the Darjeeling Himalayan Rail Museum at Kurseong closed? No, it is not, but strangely it has no particular timings or opening hours. Due to lack of workforce, the station authorities cannot run the museum all day long, and it is normally kept closed unless you visit the booking office and request the personnel. Upon purchasing the entry ticket for 10 rupees, the railway personnel will escort you to the museum. It is a large room full of manifold photographs and other exhibits. Some original rail tracks from the colonial period and the equipment to join or manoeuvre those rail tracks are also preserved here. The museum also has a nineteenth-century printing machine, to be operated by hand, which was used to print tickets etc. One great thing about visiting this museum is that probably there will be no other tourist except for you, as very people know about this museum and even fewer would know how to get an entry! So you can take all your time to see the artefacts. You won't need a guide either as everything is properly labelled with detailed descriptions.

3. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum, Sukna

The DHR museum at Sukna may be smaller than those in Ghoom or Kurseong but it is no less important, housing several old photographs and sketches related to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. There is also a sketch of a European man travelling on a portable seat or 'dandy' by four Indian porters. It is believed that the man was Mark Twain. There are over 50 rare photographs which are like precious gems for the history buff and the railway enthusiasts. Please note that Sukna is closer to Siliguri (just 11 kilometres) than Darjeeling. So if you are interested to visit this museum, try to accommodate it on your return journey from Darjeeling towards Siliguri. If you are coming by train, you can get down at Sukna, visit the museum, and then take a local taxi to take you to Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri which will barely need half an hour or so. There is no entry fee for the DHR Sukna museum. Just ask the stationmaster to let you in!

Do you know anything more about DHR Museums? Please post a comment below! And do not forget to check out other famous museums in Darjeeling!


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