here are always a few things in our lives that we enjoy, all through our childhood to way later. For most Indians, and people who have lived and grown up in India, it is train journeys. The Indian Railways reaches out to 30 million people across all nooks and corners of the culturally and topographically diverse subcontinent. We all have memories of reaching the railway station, buying a dozen magazines, comics and packets of munchies, and fighting for the window seat. For the trainspotting enthusiasts, below the most beautiful rail journeys in India offered to you by the lifeline of India. Here is a list of most beautiful rail routes in India:
1. Kalka-Shimla route
For those of you who enjoy movies and feeling ‘filmy’ when you travel, this rail journey by the “toy train” is a must. The trains that run on this route resemble toy trains that awaken the inner child in you. 96 km long, this route was started way back in 1903 and it passes through 102 tunnels and 82 bridges and has been awarded a world record by the Guinness book of world records for the steepest rise in altitude in the span of 96 km. For 5 hours that you will travel on this pretty little train, you will pass through scenic beauty that will amaze you. Everything from pine trees, oak, valleys, Deodar, Rhodendron forests and a route that moves upwards till it reaches Shimla will keep you gaping at its beauty. All this and more awaits you on this ride that is now a UNESCO world heritage site since 2008.
2. Jodhpur-Jaisalmer route
A journey that chugs off in the desert of Thar, from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer fights against the entire stereotype that deserts are just barren land. The traveller is welcomed to the sight of the never ending desert, something that liberates the mind yet frightens it, dotted by the colourful traditional mud huts and oh so many camels grazing around the place. Sunrises of the desert are something very few get the pleasure to witness, because we always tend to prefer the colder regions but this is one train route that will challenge your tastes and take you on a ride making you feel like youre on top of the world, a lone ranger, happy and content.
3. Darjeeling-Himalayan route
Another impressive toy train journey is the one that runs from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. Breathtaking, quite literally when the route takes you on a series of landscapes, altitudes and climate changes; Jalpaiguri being a plain and Darjeeling, the hill station that serves the best tea in all of India. Prepare yourself for a trip hooded by the Himalayas, through tea gardens and forests and if you’re lucky and the skies are clear, you can spot the magnificent Kanchenjunga. The journey takes you as close as possible to the tea gardens where you can experience the mesmerizing smell of tea.
4. Mandovi Express route
A beautiful journey of around 11 hours, it comprises traversing many tunnels, bridges, streams, lush green hills of the Western Ghats and so much more! The train travels from Mumbai to Goa and crossing places like Madgaon, Thane, Ratnagiri and others. The best time to travel is in monsoons though, when the greens simply take your breath away!
5. Gwalior-Sichar route
This train starts plies between Dibrugarh in Assam and Lalgarh Junction in West Bengal. It covers a distance of about 3,118 kms in total but the stretch from Guwahati to Silchar is simply out of this world! The train traverses the river Jatinga, scenic tea plantations, dense greens of the spectacular Barak Valley, landscapes of Lumding and the Haflong valley.
6. Bangalore-Kanyakumari route
Commuting between Bangalore and Kanyakumari, this train covers a distance of 944 kms in about a little more than 19 hours. It is a magical journey giving you a feeling of gliding over a long stretches of water as well as various other topographies.
7. Nilgiri-Ooty route
With a travelling time of 5 hours between Mettupalayam and Ooty, you cross through a plethora of tunnels(16), forests, bridges(250), curves and bends over the Nilgiri Mountain in this toy train. The train moves along the steepest track in Asia with the maximum height going upto 7,000 feet.
8. Srinagar-Baramulla route
This track offers you one of the most magnificent views of the Himalayas along with the thrill of passing through a high intensity earthquake zone.
9. Hubli-Madgaon route
While travelling from Hubli to Madgaon, experience one of the most thrilling and enchanting train journeys in India. The train passes through the gigantic and most magnificent Dudhsagar waterfalls gushing out from a 300 metres in full vigor.
10. Hassan-Mangalore route
Witness a pleasant train journey through scenic waterfalls, lofty mountains, palm plantations and rice meadows from Hassan to Mangalore. Railway voyage along this stretch of the Malnad region is truly refreshing and perfect delight for travelers.
11. Jammu-Udhampur route
The railway track connecting Jammu, Udhampur, Srinagar and Baramulla is not only picturesque and enthralling but also one the most challenging railway projects. It is located in the high earthquake intensity zone with undulating and rugged terrain and extreme cold temperature.
12. Ratnagiri-Mangalore route
One of the most mesmerizing railway tracks lies in the Konkan Railway network, in the Ratnagiri to Mangalore sector. The journey is truly absorbing and the dense forests, mighty Western Ghats, deep tunnels, river bridges, sharp bends and innumerable seasonal streams will leave the travelers spellbound and hypnotized.
13. Matheran-Neral route
The narrow gauge railway running between Matheran and Neral passes through the rugged terrains of the Ghats and has gained immense tourist attraction. This only Heritage railway of Maharashtra running a distance of 20 km is surely included in the list of India’s best train journeys.
14. Tamil Nadu-Rameshwaram route
Besides thrill and adventure, train travel from Mandapam in Tamil Nadu to Rameshwaram on Pamban Island oozes calm and serenity. It is certainly one of the top ten best Indian train journeys. One of the most beautiful train routes in India, it passes over the second longest bridge of India, the Palk Strait, which is the only route that connects mainland India to Pamban Island
. 15. Bhubaneswar-Brahmapur route
Another of most beautiful train journeys in India is from Bhubaneshwar to Brahmapur, with lush green Malyadri on one side and serene Chilka Lake on the other. You may be lucky enough to see lots of migratory birds, so don’t forget your camera.