A country as vast and diverse, both geographically and culturally, as India leaves the visitors – be it international or domestic – in a fix when it come to decide the mode of traveling to spend holidays in India. My endeavor is to suggest a few reasons why – according to me and numerous other extensively traveled tourists in India – train is the best way to explore India and its amazing diversity.
India is dotted with an amazing diversity of landscape, flora and fauna as well as its almost unique diversity in creeds and culture. Be it the golden beaches and swaying palm groves in the South to the picturesque and pristine mountain ranges in North and North East. The land of Maharajas Rajasthan to the spiritual centers at Benares and Bodhgaya an array of destinations await the tourists looking to discover and explore the rich heritage of India. And notice I haven’t even mentioned numerous temples, monuments and wildlife sanctuaries which are an integral part of alluring appeal of India as a tourist destination.
Well coming back to the topic here are my top 10 reasons to opt for train while traveling in India:
1. Around 8000 stations, 70000 kilometers and 20000000 passengers. Well this is the daily statistics of the Indian Railways network. In short one can say that the Railways in India move a country. There’s no better place to observe the myriad colors of this nation as on a train travel in India
2. Firsthand experience of scenic landscapes and diverse populace is the other. Behold the landscape spool by through the window like the revealing scroll which you’ll invariably miss on air travel. Train travel on an Indian tour is most efficient and intimate way of knowing this incredible country.
3. Train travel in India offers a microcosmic view of the kaleidoscopic colors of India, its diverse culture and unparalleled tolerance and warmth of people from various walks of life. You’ll find people from various socio-economic backgrounds sharing the space inside an Indian train. From cacophonies of hawkers selling an array of local delicacies and beverages to local performers trying to earn through their music or gymnastics to people reading English newspapers and magazines to never-stopping ringtones of cell phones, Indian train is the epitome of the organization in disorganization (Once a noted person famously proclaimed that traveling to India made him/her believe in God coz for country like India to prosper does need the invisible hands of God behind it… I’m sorry I can’t seem to remember the name of the person who said the above lines).
4. An array of options including the 1st AC (individual salon), 2nd AC, 3rd AC, Second class sleeper and general compartment are available to the travelers. AC compartments are cleaner and have passengers from the upper economic strata of life. Only disadvantage of AC travelling is the tinted windows which obscure the scenic view offered by the second sleeper or general compartment.
5. Computerized ticket reservation is another reason why the train traveling remains one of the favorite options of traveling in India. One can book his/her ticket through internet using credit/debit card from anywhere in India to anywhere in India. Ticket can be booked 2 months in advance with facility of tatkal and tourists quotas adding to the comfort.
6. Another reason why train travel is popular is that it literally takes to anywhere in India. With its vast network of rail lines and number of trains plying, Indian railways offers one of the most sumptuous travel options available in the world.
7. Affordable tariff is another advantage of train travel in India with fare as low as 1/20 th of the air travel. 3rd AC journey from Delhi to Mumbai is just around Rs. 1500 ($ 30) on Rajdhani Express fully air conditioned and one of the best passenger trains in India.
8. Dining cars are available on the most trains plying across destinations in India. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are available in the pantry car of the train with quality food and beverages available for the passengers. Besides, authorized hawkers at every station along the journey offer an array of local delicacies to the passengers. Many stations are known for their specialty offering – I’ve often noticed the rush to buy the famous Petha at the Agra Railway Station with stocks lasting little over a minute.
9. Besides normal trains, tourist’s trains or the Indian luxury trains offer ultimate luxury traveling options to the tourists across the choicest of destinations in India. Itinerary of these ultra modern trains covers some of the most significant historical and cultural sites in India.
10. Diversity is the key to train travel in India. With diverse people, different languages, creeds and religion, an array of meals and firsthand encounter of the geographical diversity, traveling on train is like observing a kaleidoscope with all that’s unfolding before your eyes offering you the myriad colors of this incredible country, its unity in diversity.