Mountain railways of India includes three railways. These railways have collectively been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first, and is still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, its design applies bold ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu State was first proposed in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous location the work only started in 1891 and was completed in 1908. This railway, scaling an elevation of 326 m to 2,203 metres, represented the latest technology of the time. The Kalka Shimla Railway, a 96-kilometre long, single track working rail link built in the 1910 to provide a service to the highland town of Shimla is emblematic of the technical and material efforts to disenclave mountain populations through the railway. All three railways are still fully operational.
The UNESCO's 'World Heritage site' recognition to three of the mountain railways of India has been for "outstanding examples of bold, ingenious engineering solutions for the problem of establishing an effective rail link through a rugged, mountainous terrain." The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway got it first in 1999, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway followed suit in 2005, and the Kalka–Shimla Railway, in 2008; the three together have been titled as 'Mountain Railways of India' under Criteria : ii, iv under the region in the Asia-Pacific. The claims of the Matheran Railway, the fourth hill line, is pending acceptance by the international body.
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