Friday, February 04, 2011

India part 11a: Ooty - getting there

Forty-five percent of the fun of Ooty - apart from the pleasing name, short for Ootacamund - is getting there, which is achieved by hopping aboard a narrow gauge steam train known as the Blue Nilgiri Mountain Express.

Getting up steam

As any fule kno, the train uses the Abt rack and pinion system to wind its way up to the hill station, which basically means it uses cogs and ting, like an oversized bit of Lego.

Blue Nilgiri Mountain Express carriage

What do you get for your ticket? Well, there's a Docklands Light Railway-like view if you book a first class ticket...

Front view

... which we're glad we did, to be honest - because second class was rammed to the rafters (NB the Blue Nilgiri Mountain Express train does not actually have rafters, this is what is known as a metaphor) with hooting schoolchildren, who would have chorused, "You are from?" repeatedly had they sighted us. Here's our very civilised carriage.

Blue Nilgiri Mountain Express

And there are some great views as you make your way up the mountain, too. The kid below wasn't the only one to come over all dreamy.

Blue Nilgiri Mountain Express: smug chap

It's not only very slow, but there are approximately one million and one stops, with some stations consisting of a bit of tarmac and a sign, and very unconventional-looking guards, who look on disapprovingly.

Disapproving monkey

Blue Nilgiri Mountain Express

I think this final picture was taken at the end of the line, but I may be wrong. It can happen, you know.

All aboard

So there we are. Getting on at Mettupalayam, as we did, means you've travelled 41km in four and a half hours, which is twice as long as Paula Radcliffe used to take to run the same distance. They don't make 'em like this any more (except in the UK, of course, hahaha).

Oh, and here's Shahrukh Khan and Malaika Arora heading to Ooty in style...

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