TheVibe Editorial | TravelHimani Gupta
You must have got nostalgic about fighting for that window seat and sleeping on the upper berth, once in a while. The joy of letting your mind wander rhythmically, as the train chugs on its tracks is an unmatched experience. But, the journey becomes even more enthralling, when the route is scenic and you pass through changing picturesque landscapes. From bridges, tunnels, steep mountain slopes to pristine blue sea, every diverse landscape is covered by the Indian Railway. So, we bring you these epic train journeys that offer enchanting views and also luxurious wholesome experiences.
1) KALKA – SHIMLA TOY TRAIN
Imagine passing through deep valleys, steep curves and misty forests of deodar, pine and oak in a toy train. The toy trains are now considered as World Heritage Site by UNESCO and cover 96 km from Kalka to Shimla. En-route, the trains pass through 102 tunnels and over 800 gothic style bridges. It is the steepest ride in the span of 96 km. Some of the toy trains that ply on this route are Himalayan Queen, Rail Motor and Siwalik Queen. Nestled between the Shivalik ranges, this route will keep you gaping at its beauty, as you see changing vegetation and cattle grazing near the tracks. There is nothing like taking this ride on an early winter morning and feeling the cold breeze, sitting by the window.
2) KONKAN RAILWAY
The most mesmerizing route is that of Konkan area. The view of majestic Sahyadri Mountain Ranges, numerous curves and river bridges, lakes and of course the mighty and milky Dudhsagar Fall, will leave you awestruck. The train also passes through verdant forests of the Western Ghats, deep tunnels, sharp bends and several streams. So, to enjoy nature at its best, you should take this ride in monsoon. The Konkan Railway covers areas like Ratnagiri, Dudhsagar Waterfall, Goa, Udupi, Gokarna, Murudeshwara and Mangalore.
3) DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAY
Another spectacular toy train, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 1999. Ghum station – India’s highest railway station, is located on this train’s route from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The scenery and climate change drastically as Jalpaiguri is a plain and Darjeeling, a hill station. You will witness the Himalayas, tea gardens, tea factories, small towns, mini forests of cherry, chestnut, pear and maple, and also the mighty Kanchenjunga on this journey. It is a 78km long journey and takes around 8 hours to reach Darjeeling. October – December, is the best time to enjoy the Darjeeling toy train services and it is advisable to take up the ride in the morning.
4) JEWEL OF THAR DESERT (JAIPUR – JODHPUR – JAISALMER)
The Desert Queen rail route passes through the Thar desert, Rajasthan. You will get to see barren desert land, sand-dunes, desert wildlife, grazing camels, cactus plants, tribes and settlements of desert inhabitants. The golden rays of sun sparkling the sand particles during sunrise will be cherry on the cake. Travelling through this train will be more like being on a desert safari. The Desert Queen has also helped in boosting tourism in Rajasthan.
5) NILGIRI MOUNTAIN RAILWAY
Remember the stunning landscape in the famous ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ song? Well, the song was shot on the rooftop of Nilgiri Mountain Railway. It has been shuttling since 1899 between Mettupalayam and Ooty and still runs on a steam engine. As the train ascends the Nilgiri mountain, you see thick pine, oak and eucalyptus forests all around. The train also passes through numerous sharp bends, curves, dark tunnels and tea gardens surrounded by mist and fog. This blue coloured train, as it moves up and down the slopes along with the sound of a steam engine, makes one reminiscent of the old world charm. Also known as the Nilgiri Mountain Railway Toy Train, it has also been declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
6) BLUE SEA RIDE (MANDAPAM – PAMBAN – RAMESWARAM)
Over 100 years old, the second longest sea bridge in India – the Palk Strait connects Pamban Island to the rest of India. With 143 piers, the bridge is 2km long. The train travel over this bridge soothes you as you can see the serene blue sea to infinity. This train journey in itself has become one of the top things to do in Tamil Nadu.
7) BHUBANESHWAR – BEHRAMPUR (BRAHMAPUR)
On this rail route, you can witness the Eastern Ghats on one side and the Chilika lake on the other side. Chilika lake is the second largest lagoon for migratory birds in the world. Thus, with a stroke of luck, you can also see many migratory birds on this train ride if you travel in the winter season. Travelling in the morning from Bhubaneshwar to Behrampur is the best way to see Odisha in all its glory.
8) PALACE ON WHEELS
Palace on Wheels is India’s first luxury tourist train launched by Indian Railway to promote tourism in Rajasthan. In the duration of 7 nights and 8 days, it covers places like – Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and also Agra. The train journey starts and ends in Delhi. You will also get time to visit many points like Amber Fort in Jaipur, Jaisalmer Fort and the iconic monument of love – Taj Mahal in Agra. The train has 14 guest coaches, which represent the style of personal carriages of Maharajas. You will receive the warmest hospitality and amenities in this train. Palace on Wheels provides a completely luxurious experience. The train has been rated as amongst the top 5 most luxurious train rides in the world.
9) BUDDHIST CIRCUIT TOURIST TRAIN
Another luxurious train, Buddhist Circuit Tourist Train is a deluxe train consisting of a mini library, kitchen and stylish bathrooms. Moreover, the entire train is fitted with CCTV Camera. The train will be travelling to all the places connected with Buddhism, like – Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Varanasi, Lumbini (India – Nepal border), Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Balrampur, Sravasti and also Taj Mahal in Agra. The journey will start, as well as, end in Delhi.
Photo Courtesy: Respective Owners as Attributed
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