Childhood memories of summer vacations for most of us revolve around train journeys, which can be termed as ultimate mode of transportation. Not many know but there are several interesting facts related to Indian railways. Around 161 years old, we have the third largest railway network in the world. Did you know that if the railway tracks would be laid, they would circle the earth around 1.5 times? As the train starts chugging from the railway station, it crosses bridges, seas, rivers, valleys, deserts, mountains and other man-made as well as natural wonders. There are some train routes that are popular for offering breathtaking vistas and unforgettable experiences. Here are 8 most amazing train experiences in India, offering journeys for lifetime:
Kalka-Shimla Route, Himalayan Queen
The Kalka-Shimla route on the Himalayan Queen boasts of being its name in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ for embarking on the steepest trail. Covering a distance of 96 km, this rail route offers sheer excitement. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, this rail track was built way back in 1903.
Sandwiched between the lofty Shivalik ranges, the train passes through 102 tunnels and cross around 82 bridges. Crisscrossing its way through pine, maple and oak trees, this train is a huge charm amid holidaymakers in Shimla, making it one of the top things to do in India. Fresh air and wonderful views are other added bonuses.
Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling Route, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Also known as the ‘Toy Train’, the World heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is one of the most scenic train routes in India. This is the oldest mountain railway of the country with splendid circular loops as its highlights. The most famous part of this track is Batasia Loop, which offers wonderful views of Darjeeling town and Mt Kanchenjunga. This makes Darjeeling, one of the most- visited tourist destinations in India.
While moving on an upward trail from Sukna, the train traverses through green tea estates, a few small towns, and a small forest of chestnut pear, cherry and maple. Do not miss out on noticing the Gurkha settlements. The distance covered by the train is 78 km including a busy highway. Scenes and songs from popular Bollywood movies like Aradhana, Parineeta and Barfi have been shot in the train or featuring it.
Ratnagiri-Madgaon-Honnavar-Mangalore Route, Konkan Railway
Do not miss out on taking ride on the Konkan Railway, which passes through Ratnagiri – Madgaon – Honnavar – Mangalore, covering a distance of 741 km. The track is laid down in 3 different states: Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, offering a variety of topography along with untouched beautiful scenery. It runs along the coastal towns of the expansive Arabian Sea and the mighty Sahyadri Hills.
This rail route is extremely scenic and thus the train curves through green lands, cascading waterfalls, huge bridges and a number of other water bodies. This single-line track is an engineering genius. The Konkan journey casts a magical spell on you.
Udhagamandalam-Coonoor Route, Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Nilgiri Mountain Railway deserves to be featured on this list of 8 most amazing train experiences in India. The Udhagamandalam-Coonoor railway line in Tamil Nadu was laid during the British rule. The scenic experiences on this train route of 26 km are matchless, in comparison to any other train journey.
The best part here is that in this short distance the train has to cross about 16 tunnels and over 200 curves filled with verdant scenery. Chugging on the ‘ABT Rack and Pinion’ system, the train offers lovely views of the hill town of Ooty and the other nearby delights. This is one of the highlights of Coonoor, a popular family holiday destination.
Siliguri- Newmal-Hasimara-Alipurduar Route, Dooars Express
Train journey from Siliguri to Alipurduar in West Bengal is one of the best journeys for nature lovers as it is replete with wonders, which are worth-cherishing. The train traverses through the untouched Dooars Valley with Sankosh and Teesta Rivers, amid the snow-capped Eastern Himalayas in the background. The vistas of the nature are mesmerizing here. The journey includes Jaldapara and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuaries, thick forests of Chapramani, and Buxa Tiger Reserve.
Treat your eyes to the lush views of jungles, the Himalayan Ranges, and the region’s wildlife. You can hear to the sounds of gurgling waterfalls. Admire the several water streams, which the train is going to pass. The speed of the train is slow at Hasimara, Rajabhatkhawa, and Chalsa. You can de-board the train to savor the salubrious surroundings.
Chennai-Rameswaram Route, Sethu Express
One of the most travelled train routes in India, Chennai-Rameswaram Route on-board the Sethu Express has wonderful lush scenery in abundance. The experience is worth-cherishing for a lifetime. The star attraction of this rail route is Rameswaram, known to be one of the holiest places in the country.
As per the mythological legends, it is believed that Lord Rama, with Lord Hanumana and their monkey army had constructed a bridge across the sea in Rameswaram for rescuing Mata Sita from Lanka. While passing the sea over the Pamban Bridge, relish the views of the expansive sea, and feel overwhelmed by the mystical aura that is spread around the mythological stories.
Jammu-Udhampur Route, Kashmir Railway
While discussing about most amazing train experiences in India, we just cannot miss out including the charming Kashmir Valley. The snow-covered mountain peaks, the lush environs, and cool breeze- all are simply captivating. The rail route might be a blessing for the travelers but it is one of those high-maintenance routes.
Starting from the picturesque Jammu Vally and going till Udhampur, this train covers a distance of around 53 km as it passes via adrenaline-charged terrains, including the lofty Shivalik Ranges and some main earthquake zones. Along with valleys and mountain edges, the train also traverses through 158 bridges, and 20 tunnels. One of the highlights of this journey is passing through the tallest railway bridge in India.
Mumbai-Goa Route, Mandovi Express
Mumbai, the commercial and entertainment capital of the country and Goa, the party capital of the country, this is another panoramic rail route, filled with thrilling experiences to create memories. Journey between these two places is going to be a memorable affair for all.
The train track spreads over 580 km. Spanning around 12 hours, this journey is a wonderful mix of serenity amid nature, and busy life schedule, along with charming bridges, various rivers, quaint hamlets, thick jungles and much more.