The narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla Railway has the steepest incline.

Did You Know?

The UNESCO Heritage toy train delves through 102 tunnels, the largest of which is over 1,000 metres long.

It also crosses 864 bridges and viaducts while chugging through forests of maple, deodar and pine.

And yet few Indians know about the man who is believed to have played a pivotal role in laying the Kalka-Shimla Railway.

The man credited for this feat was Bhalku Ram, a humble shepherd from Jhajha village near Chail.

In 1903, the Shimla-Kalka railway track was laid under the supervision of Colonel S Barog, a British engineer.

To create the longest tunnel on the route, Barog got his team to begin digging from both ends only to find that he had made a gross error in calculating the alignment.

His mistake attracted a sharp reprimand and a fine of Re 1 from the British government for wasting their time and resources. Col. Barog felt so humiliated that he committed suicide.

Later on, his successor, chief engineer HS Harrington too faced the same problem.

That’s when Bhalku Ram offered to help Harrington build the tunnel. He joined the British team of engineers and soon became the most important man in it.

Legend has it that he would tap the walls of the mountain with his solid wooden staff. Listening to the sounds produced, he would then mark out points for Harrington’s team to dig.

Under his guidance, the British finally managed to complete the 1143.61-metre-long tunnel, which is today known as the Barog tunnel (no 33).

For his efforts, the British Viceroy presented Bhalku Ram with a medal and turban that are still treasured by his family.

It is also said that after the completion of the Kalka-Shimla track in 1903, Bhalku went on a pilgrimage from which he never returned.