Down to Memory lane - Cherra Companyganj State Railways
a mountain railway that existed 125 years ago :
CHERRAPUNJEE: Meghalaya does not have a rail link at present but around 125 years ago people from this quaint hill-station made memorable journeys on one of the most romantic mauntain railways of the world - the Cherra Companyganj State Railways(CCSR).
The CCSR a contemporary of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) was aimed at
connecting Kolkata and shillong through the plains of what is now Bangladesh.While the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is currently on the World Heritage list,
the CCSR has been relegated to the pages of history.
The CCSR in Meghalaya was opened to traffic on June 6, 1886.Passengers and goods were ferried between Tharia, a sleepy hamlet below
Cherrapunjee and Companyganj, now in Bangladesh, for a distance of 7.5 miles."Not many know that a 3.5 mile railway line was actually laid from
Cherrapunjee to Mawsmai (now in East khasi hills district)," Arup Kumar
Dutta, author of the book 'Indian Railways ? The Final Frontier', said.The author culled records for the book from the British railway records
available at the National Archives and the Railway Museum archives in New Delhi
and the State archives of Assam.The ambitious railway project was conceptualised by a British engineer in
India, H Kench, after need arose to connect Shillong, the then capital of the
British India Province, to Calcutta by rail since carts had difficulty in
negotiating mule tracks and roads on the steep slope of the Khasi Hills.Dutta said, "Kench believed that if Shillong was to be linked by rail to
Calcutta, the obvious route was from then Assam?s capital, Shillong, through Cherrapunjee
to Mawsmai."It envisaged a rope-tramway down the 4,100 feet escarpment to the mining
village of Tharia in then East Bengal and to Companygunj to connect Sylhet and
Goalundo, from where rail services to Calcutta already existed, he said.