When you travel by train, the journey itself is part of the pleasure. I just got back from my vacation to Jaipur and having spent nearly 4 days traveling in trains, I still can’t get over my fascination with the Indian railways and the profound experiences it offers to millions everyday.
If you have ever taken a long distance travel by the Indian Railways, you must know that the ride offers much more than you pay for: a magical experience! The tea sellers’ welcome cry of ‘chai, chai, garam chai’, the colors and scenery of ever-changing landscapes (farmlands, rivers, forests, to cities), varied fellow travelers (some obnoxious, some over-friendly), stations of small towns with funny names, vendors selling yummy refreshments, and the pleasure of observing populace of different parts of the country – a train ticket offers you this and much more!
Traveling by rail is part of the escapade which gets going the very moment you step into the station and get lost in the crowd of passengers. In fact, getting to your seat amidst heavy bags of luggage can be quite a challenge!! If the journey is a long one, it’s no surprise that some fellow passengers enquire about every bit of your history and share a lot of information and discuss topics ranging from politics to universe. Sometimes, friendships strike and people are soon seen sharing food and snacks! (Yes, Indian hospitality is part of train journeys too).
In fact, delicious food and train journeys are part of each other. Sometimes, it gives the impression of a pursuit between the food and the journey – which would end first. Many prefer to carry food and snacks from home (sometimes enough to feed an entire village), while for others the train pantry offers many appetizing options. Also remember, every station has its own local cuisine specialties often leaving people battling with choices. If you are a foodie, there’s no better way to relish food from different parts of the country! Sounds fun isn’t?
Mind it, the Indian Railways doesn’t just help people commute. If you desire luxurious travel experience, the Golden Chariot and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (to mention a few) are excellent means to explore tourist hot spots of Karnataka and Rajasthan. The Darjeeling ‘toy’ train (from Calcutta to Darjeeling) is another must-travel experience for every traveler as it provides breath-taking views of foot hills of Himalayas and is also a UN World heritage site .
Check this out to know the best train journeys in the world. Surprise, it features Indian trains too!
Indian railways being the third largest rail netwok in the world is the life line of the country connecting about 7500 stations and ferrying nearly 20 million people to their destined places every day. It’s also the most affordable way to commute in the country and is the largest employer in India with over 1.4 million employees.
The best way to experience a thrilling journey is the local rail networks in cities like Mumbai. They are known to be the one-of-a kind in the world, being heavily crowded but are generally the fastest and cheapest way to get around the city. It’s quite a task to get in to the train of your choice and then alight at the right station, all this requiring super adjusting skills (it has the highest passenger density in the world !)
The saga of train journey never fades. India’s railways has intrigued authors, inspired filmmakers and entranced dreamers, luring the nostalgic and tempting the curious. The
connection between romance and train journeys is also very dear to Bollywood. How could we ever forget the role of ‘trains’ in electrifying romance! Right from ‘Dil wale Dulhaniya Le Jayege’ to ‘Jab we met’, trains continue to be an integral part of many Bollywood releases.
Sometimes the not-so-good things on train journeys could be unclean toilets and dirty stations. It’s also a sad plight to see passengers throw trash through windows polluting vast tracts of land. Whatever the case, there’s surely no better way to discover India than a train journey. For city dwellers it can be quite a revelation to witness the ‘Real India’ that resides in far flung areas untouched by various development projects. The railways are the place to understand the divide, the two extremes between well developed cities and the smaller towns and villages that are far from being developed.
It became clear to me why the railways have earned its name as the lifeline of the nation, the bloodstream that keeps the country’s heart beating. If you haven’t experienced a long distance train journey in India, you have surely missed out on one of the most exciting experiences of life.
Rest apart, the traveling experience can be quite enchanting for first timers! If you are planning to embark on a train journey soon, these tips on theblueindian may be of use.
Do you have some unforgettable memories from train rides? Why not share and cherish them now!