Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Sunday, 9 July 2006 13:26 UK

In pictures: Darjeeling railway's 125th birthday

Darjeeling train

The famous narrow gauge railway line which connects the Indian plains with the town of Darjeeling in West Bengal was opened 125 years ago. (Pictures: Alastair Lawson)

Darjeeling train carriage named after mark Twain

The author Mark Twain - who this carriage is named after - described his trip on the railway in 1896 as "the most enjoyable day I have spent on the earth".

Smoke from Darjeeling train

One famous telegram sent from the line to headquarters in Calcutta during Mark Twain's time allegedly said: "Tiger eating station master on front porch. Telegraph instructions."

View from train carriage window

The views from the train's windows are some of the most spectacular in the world, and if you look closely it is sometimes possible to see Mount Everest in the far distance.

Darjeeling train driver

Most drivers of the train - which goes up to 2,286 metres (7,500 feet) say it is one of the most enjoyable jobs in the world, attracting a wide variety of well-known visitors.

Plaque showing train's British design

One admirer of the train's British engineering was Mother Teresa, who said that she heard God calling her to be a missionary in Calcutta while using the service in 1946.

Train driver inspects engine

Drivers today are full of praise for the train's Victorian engineers. The short wheelbase of Darjeeling's "toy train" is now world famous, as is its zigzag method of climbing hills.

Darjeeling train

In 1999, the UN declared the line a World Heritage Site, declaring it "an outstanding example of an innovative transportation system".

Darjeeling train

Another well known traveller on the railway was the former BBC India correspondent, Sir Mark Tully, who used it regularly during his school days at Darjeeling in the 1930s.

Darjeeling train on the side of a hill

The railway today is more than just a tourist attraction. It also provides economical transport for workers going to and from Darjeeling.

Darjeeling train pulls into Ghum

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society now has more than 800 members in 24 countries. They are determined to ensure the service will carry on rattling for many more anniversaries.



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