See India the way it was meant to be seen, by taking one of these Great Indian Train Journeys. You will get to experience the true India, the ever changing scenery, the hustle and bustle of urban and rural life. Since the Indian Railways network is one of the largest in the world, it has plenty to offer to the adventurous traveller. So we have compiled our top 5, in no particular order, railway journeys across India.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the ‘Toy Train’ is a 2ft narrow gauge railway running between Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal. Opened in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing and effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. This tiny steam train is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact. In 1999 this route was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The route provides an important transport link to various parts of Darjeeling hills and lower plains, the Toy Train is still unmatched when it comes to absorbing the magnificent beauty of the mountains.
What makes the Goa Express unique is how it inches past Goan beaches giving you an incredible view of the Arabian Sea and a glimpse of Goan village life as the train makes it way from Vasco da Gama, Goa to Londa, Karnataka. As you approach the Western Ghats, you will pass through thick jungle, hugging the curves of the mountainside. You might get to see waterfalls in the distance, which increase as the trees thin and the view turns to deep valleys and peaks.
Deccan Odyssey – Indian Odyssey Journey
We haven’t just chosen this route because it is our namesake, but the elegant Deccan Odyssey is the closest option to travelling like the Rajput kings once did. The train comprises of 21 luxuriously appointed coaches. Out of which, 11 are to accommodate guests and the rest are used for different purposes such as dining, lounge, conference car, and health spa. This mobile hotel takes you from Delhi to Mumbai in incredible comfort, covering a distance of almost 900 miles in 8 days, stopping off in some memorable locations like Ranthambore, Agra, and Udaipur to name but a few.
Built in 1903 during the later life of the Raj it was primarily used for the English to escape the heat of the plains and to ‘summer’ in Shimla. The route takes you from Kalka up to Shimla, passing through 102 tunnels, 87 bridges, 900 curves, and rising to an elevation of 2200m above sea level. This is a normal commuter route, frequented by all, rather than just for tourists. The route offers breathtaking views of the Himalayan Peaks, the heady fragrance of flowers and a great opportunity to enjoy hot tea and pakoras as you slowly climb up to Shimla.
The Maharaja’s Express offers five luxury train circuits on wheels to let one choose the best way to discover and explore the treasure trove and amazing Indian kaleidoscope. You can explore exotic locales such as a trip to one of the largest dinosaur fossil parks at Balasinor with opportunity to meet one of the Indian royal family, a trip to the erotic temples of Khajuraho, to participate in the Elephant activities at Jaipur, cocktail & barbeque sundowner on the sand dunes at Bikaner, champagne breakfast overlooking the immortal beauty of the Taj Mahal, boat trip on the Ganges at the holy city of Varanasi – and much more…
The well-appointed rooms are neat and elegant, the en-suite showers are hot and powerful, and the swaying dining cars are straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.
One final train journey I wanted to mention is the Vivek Express. The Vivek Express actually consists of four pairs of express trains on the Indian Railway network. What makes them special? Well one of the Vivek Express trains, has a weekly route from Dibrugarh, in Assam to Kanyakumari, in Tamil Nadu covering a distance of over 2630 miles making it the longest route on the Indian Railways network, in terms of distance and time, and is the 9th longest in the world. If you are feeling intrepid enough, this route will take approximately 82 hours and consists of 57 stops en route. Just make sure you have enough books to read.
Kerala: Backwaters & Beach – Encompassing
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