Wonderful view at Coonoor Railway Station.
Wonderful view at Coonoor Railway Station.

The Heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railway Experience

My mantra while exploring a new place is simple, spend on experience rather than buying stuff. So there wasn’t much of shopping for me Ooty except few Chocolates and tea. If you google Things to Do in Ooty, the first result that Google will suggest you is a ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. This train was conferred the World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2005. The Nilgiris Express has been running here for ages and is one of the main attraction in Ooty. It runs from Mettupalayam (a small town neat to Coimbatore) to Udagamandalam (Ooty) The train runs on steam engine but for everyone who think that the entire route is done by the steam engine, then you are in for a surprise. Only the train from Mettupalayam to Coonoor is pulled by the steam engine. The onward journey to Ooty from Coonoor is by a diesel engine.

Ooty Railway Station
Ooty Railway Station

Getting the tickets for Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Just like any other train, one can book the tickets to the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway via IRCTC’s online booking service. However, the only difference is that, it’s never available. For instance, if you are planning a trip in August, the booking is almost full by March, but that’s the case only for the steam operated train. You can easily get a seat in the first class coach from Ooty to Coonoor for a mere 25Rs.

The only drawback is that you won’t be able to see the functioning of the steam engine as this one will be powered by diesel engine. More over there are few tickets that are sold at the station on the day of travel itself. And people queue up at the station from literally 6 in the morning to get the 16 odd tickets that go on sale. So if your intention is to experience the journey only, the 1.5hr journey from Ooty to Coonoor is good. But if you want to see the steam engine working, plan well before and book the tickets.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway Experience

I had booked the tickets from Udagamandalam to Coonoor and back. The train leaves Ooty at 09:15 hrs and reaches Coonoor by 10:30 hrs. The same train is back from Coonoor at 16:30hrs back to Ooty. The picturesque Ooty railway station is crowded in the morning, even the empty station is a great place to click photos. The tracks are clean, so getting few photos with amazing backdrop is a must.

The train arrived and left the station at the right time. One thing to note is that if you’ve booked tickets from IRCTC and you’ve got window seat, then be ready for a surprise. The seating arrangement is like 50 people in a coach, with 5 partitions. Each partition has 5 people facing each other and sitting with doors on either side. For people with a bigger built, it isn’t that comfortable.

Wonderful view at Coonoor Railway Station.
Wonderful view at Coonoor Railway Station.

Must experience the Nilgiri Mountain Railway

So if you aren’t getting a window seat, the journey is waste. Hence I couldn’t see much as I was sitting in the middle while going to Coonoor. However, I got the window seat while returning back from Coonoor. And that’s when my Nikon D5200 was out of the window the entire time. Also, try to ensure that you are seated on the left side when the train is going towards Ooty. The sights at this end are beautiful. If you are following me on Instagram, you would’ve seen the photos. The journey is amazing and provides superb scenic views. There are a couple for small tunnels on the way.

Many people told me that the journey on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is waste of time and it is hyped. Well for the price you pay, I think it’s totally worth. However I’d suggest you to experience Nilgiri Mountain Railway only if you have more time on hand. It’s a great way to spend time if you are with your family or group of friends. Overall I enjoyed my Nilgiri Mountain Railway journey and would recommend you to book the tickets in advance to avoid any hassles later. How was your experience ? Did I miss anything ? Mention in the comments below or tweet to me @atulmaharaj

About Atulmaharaj

A seasoned blogger and a content marketer for close to a decade now. I write about Food, Technology, Lifestyle, Travel, and Finance related posts. Blogging brings me joy and the best part is I get to read and e-meet so many amazing bloggers! PS: I'm also the founder for Socialmaharaj.com :) Favorite Quote: "Traveling is like reading a book, one who hasn't traveled, hasn't turned a page.

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  1. Your description is so worth for anybody experiencing it. I feel getting a window seat and that too the right one can make or break your experience in the train!

  2. Deepak Amembal

    Beautiful photographs and very informative.

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