The Loop, Agony Point, Darjeeling [Hill Railway]
Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the loop at ‘Agony Point’ at Tindharia on the Darjeeling Hill Railway in West Bengal, from the Macnabb Collection, taken by Bourne & Shepherd in c.1880. Samuel Bourne and Charles Shepherd established their firm in Simla in 1863 and became the most successful photographic firm on the subcontinent. Bourne made his reputation with topographical views taken during three expeditions to Kashmir and the Himalayas. Darjeeling, a hill-station in the Eastern Himalayas in West Bengal was the chief summer resort for the British government in Bengal, as well as the centre of a celebrated tea-growing district. Work began on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, one of the most precipitous lines in the world, in 1879 and was completed in 1881. The line was founded by an agent of the Eastern railway, Franklyn Prestage, and climbs up the mountain for 88 km (55 miles) stopping at 14 stations. The tracks follow a number of sharp curves, reverses and loops to negotiate the mountainous terrain. This view shows a train half-way round ‘Agony Point’, one of the most precarious loops in the line, located north of Tindharia. This section of the line between Tindharia and Gyabari stations has the steepest average gradient.