An under-appreciated travel scene in the early days, train travel has now developed into the most economic way of travel. Apart from being attractive to budget conscious travellers, travelling by train is a vacation in itself, especially, in a country like India. The trains in India have an old, rustic charm about themselves. They might not be modern in any sense of the word, but, are for those who truly love to cherish their travel experiences.
The Indian Railways are operated and controlled by the Government of India. It is the third largest rail network in the world, with tracks running well over 60,000 kilometres which connect about 7500 stations, ferrying nearly 20 million people every day. There are varied types of trains such as the Long Distance trains – which are compartmentalised in the Air Conditioned (‘AC’) and Non AC classes. While the AC coaches are more sterile and ‘privatised’ with curtains and blankets, the real experience lies in the Non-AC coaches where one wakes up to shrieks of the tea vendor and the aroma of food from different stations.
There also exist short travel trains such as the Shatabdi Express which provides AC chair cars, one of the most comfortable ways to travel short distances. But yes, these may not be an equivalent to a barcalounger! Indian Railways hold true pride in the luxury trains such as The Palace on Wheels which is India’s most authentic luxury train. The Palace on Wheels does an eight-day loop from New Delhi with stops and sightseeing tours in Jaipur, Ranthambore, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Agra. Also, the Deccan Odyssey, India’s second luxury train after the Palace on Wheels truely deserve mention. The 7 nights/8 days itinerary beginning from Mumbai crisscrosses some of the most mesmerizing landscape along the verdant Western Ghats and the Konkan Coast.