The initiative was launched on Saturday when 90 students of the Nepali Girls’ High School in Darjeeling took joyrides on two steam engine-hauled toy trains from Darjeeling to Ghoom, where they did a tour of the DHR museum and participated in an art competition on toy trains.
“It is important that future generations should be aware that they have a Unesco world heritage site in their locality and it needs preservation,” said Arun Kumar Sharma, the divisional railway manager of the Katihar division of NFR.
“The only way to get them interested in the process is to involve them in the DHR through entertainment and information about the heritage railway. The joyride is one way through which the students can be encouraged to take interest in the DHR. So, we organised one such ride for girls from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back on Saturday,” Kumar said.
The trip was organised by the DHR in association with Inner Wheel Club of Darjeeling, an NGO.
En route to Ghoom, the students halted at Batasia Loop to enjoy the scenery, then moved to Ghoom where they took the tour of the station and went around the museum.
Artefacts like old maps, photographs and booklets on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway are kept in the museum. It also has a model of the serpentine toy train route from Siliguri to Darjeeling, explaining technical features like loops and Z-reverses to ease the steepness of the toy train’s climb on the hilly terrain.
At Ghoom station, the students also participated in an art competition based on DHR.
“I had always liked the Batasia Loop for the view we get of the Mount Kanchenjungha. But during the visit to the museum at Ghoom, I got to know that loops and Z-reverses were made to make it easier for the toy train to climb the hilly slopes,” said a Class X student of the school.
Sharma said more such rides would be organised for special days like Christmas and Republic Day.
“This is a start and we will organise more such rides in different sections of the toy train route on Christmas and Republic Day. Along with joy rides, there will also be activities like art competitions, museum tours and essay writing competitions on the DHR,” Sharma said.
Earlier this year, a group of current and former DHR employees and residents had formed the DHR Preservation Committee that works for spreading awareness among people, especially schoolchildren, of the heritage railway.
The committee had conducted essay writing competitions in 14 schools in the Kurseong subdivision in Hindi, English and Nepali.
The best essays on the DHR are in the process of being compiled into a booklet.
“The booklet will go to print next week and hopefully we will be releasing it soon,” a DHR source said. (Courtesy: The Telegraph)