The best trains to be on – from east to west, north to south and everywhere in between in India.
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1. Kalka–Shimla Toy Train
The Journey: Known for its dramatic views and curvaceous route, the Kalka – Shimla toy train has no less than a fairytale journey into the heart of Mother Nature.
This toy train takes just over five-and-half hours to climb from Kalka to Shimla, rolling through 102 tunnels, over 87 bridges, bending around 900 curves. It has been transporting visitors into the heart of the majestic Himalayas since 1903. Enough said, right?
Route: Kalka – Dharampur – Solan – Kandaghat – Taradevi – Barog – Salogra – Totu – Summerhill – Shimla
P.S. Please remember that the Kalka – Shimla toy train bookings open only one month in advance, not like other trains which open two months in advance.
2. Qazigund – Baramulla
The Journey: An undiscovered, but beautiful railway route in Kashmir Valley, this is a journey every traveller should take in their lifetime because what could be more peaceful than a refreshing ride through the Kashmir Valley, with snow-capped peaks at a distance and Chinar trees all around.
Be sure to keep a camera in hand at all times and make sure you take this journey during winters, when the surroundings are covered with snow.
Route: Quazigund – Sadura – Anantnag – Bijbehara – Panjgam – Avantipura – Kakapore – Pampore – Budgam – Mazhom – Pattan – Hamre – Baramullah
3. The Desert Queen (Delhi Jaisalmer Express)
The Journey: Journeys on the Desert Queen tend to be a bit out of the ordinary, and if you thought a desert train route would be dull, you couldn't be more wrong. It’s a voyage where the stillness of the dessert exerts an almost spiritual influence on every traveller, who take the time to stand and stare. This is nature in all its primeval magnificence, where troubles of the modern world become utterly insignificant.
Route : Delhi – Jaisalmer – Osian – Jodhpur
4. The Maharajas' Express
The Journey : Voted as "The World's Leading Luxury Train" four times in a row, the journey on Maharajas' Express is nothing less than entering into a world of red carpets and high teas to rediscover a bygone age of elegance, opulence and romance.
The train runs on five circuits covering more than 12 destinations across North-West and Central India between the months of October and April.
Route : You can pick from one of the several routes on offer such as :
• The Heritage of India ( 7 Nights / 8 Days )
Mumbai - Ajanta - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Bikaner - Jaipur - Ranthambore - Agra - Delhi
• Treasures of India ( 3 nights/4 days )
Delhi - Agra - Ranthambore - Jaipur - Delhi
• Gems of India ( 3 Nights / 4 Days )
Delhi - Agra - Ranthambore - Jaipur - Delhi
• Indian Panorama ( 7 Nights / 8 Days )
Delhi - Jaipur - Ranthambore - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra - Gwalior - Orchha - Khajuraho - Varanasi - Lucknow - Delhi
• Indian Splendor ( 7 Nights / 8 Days )
Delhi - Agra - Ranthambore - Jaipur - Bikaner - Jodhpur - Udaipur - Balasinor - Mumbai
5. Goa Express
The Journey : It’s difficult for travellers to experience the diversity of the Western Ghats in one vacation but the iconic Goa Express offers you the chance to take a seat by an open window and watch a botanical slideshow play as this express train rattles past bursts of blossom.
The train also passes through the gigantic and most magnificent Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
Route : Vasco da Gama, Goa – Londa, Karnataka.
6. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The Journey : The oldest of all mountain railways in India and also a World Heritage site, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway takes you through a series of varying landscapes, altitudes and climate changes (Jalpaiguri is a town on the plains and Darjeeling, the hill station that serves the best tea in all of India.)
Circular loops are an amazing feature of this rail route and, the Batasia Loop is the most famous one known for offering mesmerizing views of the Mt Kanchenjunga and the town.
Route : Darjeeling – New Jalpaiguri
7. The Island Express (Kanyakumari –Trivandrum)
The Journey : The Island Express is a short train journey through impenetrable greenery, closely-packed palms and long grassy verges. The train offers one of the best ringside views into Kerala’s village life.
Fun Fact: No part of the train's route is on an island. The name was given because the predecessor of this train used to end its journey at the Cochin Harbour Terminus station in Willingdon Island, Cochin, until the mid-1970s.
Route: Kanyakumari – Thiruvananthapuram
8. The Sea Bridge Ride ( Mandapam to Rameswaram )
Besides thrill and adventure, the Pamban-Rameshwaram Bridge is the pride of Indian railways, spanning over 2 km with 143 piers. The view from above, while the train is crossing the Gulf of Manner, is sure to leave you spellbound.
Route: Mandapam – Rameswaram
Train rides have a special place in the psyche of every Indian, especially the youth. Are you a fan of train travel too? What are your bucket list trips? Comment below and let me know.