This article is first of the seven part series – ‘Incredible trains of India’.
This 130 horsepower beauty was designed in Leeds, England in 1855 by Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson. The Fairy Queen was not always a luxury train for the last 160 years of its existence. It was initially shipped to the port of Kolkata and used to transfer troops between Raniganj and Howrah during the first Indian Rebellion for independence in 1857 and served there until 1909. The locomotive was then decommissioned and spent 34 years outside Howrah station as a show piece.
It spent many years in National museum, Delhi before it was setup for restoration in 1997 to be used for tourism. After restoration, it was reintroduced in service in year 2012 and is now the oldest running steam locomotive according to Guinness Book of World Records.
Interesting fact – During restoration, it was discovered that many vintage, valuable and movable parts of the train were stolen. When the locomotive arrived at Perambur workshop, it was just a piece of metal casing. A massive project was undertaken to track the original suppliers of those parts, if they existed. In some cases, the parts were built from scratch in the workshop itself.
The sun sets gently behind Silserh mountain range as the Fairy Queen puffs its steam and does its journey from Delhi cantonment to Alwar (Sariska national park). The train has only two bogeys, one of the luxury chairs that one can recline and relax on while seeing the beautiful countryside slowly roll by. The AC bogey has large glass windows for the guests to travel in style while enjoying sumptuous food in train. The Fairy Queen is true to its name, because it takes lot of men to take care of it. They constantly feed it with water and coal, and wipe it clean at regular intervals to keep its surface shining.
The train reaches Alwar by afternoon, after which guests are escorted to their hotel followed by cultural dance and music performances in evening. Early next morning they set out on a wildlife safari, ducking under low branches spotting Peacocks, Blue Bull species, Spotted Dear, Wild Boar and Sambhar. If they hear the howl of a spotted dear, it confirms the presence of tiger which you can see if you are lucky.
The guests spend next few hours visiting city museum of Alwar which was built in 17th century by Maharaja Vinaya Singh. Some of the most precious exhibits include 18th century Mughal miniature paintings, and ancient priceless manuscripts, swords of emperor Akbar and Jehangir and Zirahbakhtar of Muhammad Ghauri.
Basic Information – The Fairy Queen runs only twice a week on Saturday morning and is back to Delhi cantonment by Sunday night. Tickets come at Rs. 12,375/- per adult and Rs. 6,325/- per child. Children below 5 years can go for free without seat. (The prices are valid as of June 2016 and may change)
Featured Image: nelive.in
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About the author:
Gaurav Bhatnagar is a Software Engineer turned professional Travel Writer, Photographer, and Public Speaker on Responsible Travel @ The Spunky Traveler. Published in National Geographic Traveller, The Hindu, Travel Secrets and Huffington Post. Director at The Folk Tales, a company specializing in Responsible Rural Travel in India