Train journeys in India are sheer nostalgia. And to me, they are the kind of stuff childhood memories are made of. There are toy trains and royal trains, besides the regular passenger express and goods wagons. The distant hum of the train chugging on a track takes you into a world of dreams where the blurring landscapes merge with each other, setting you off into an unknown journey. Vistas vary from forests to oceans, deserts to mountains as there are several scenic train journeys in India
Indian Railways is a legend by itself. Spread over 123,000 kms with over 13,000 passenger trains carrying millions of travellers from 7300 stations, there are new trains with premium and comfortable lounges launched in recent years. The fourth-largest rail network in the world has several tracks crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country, but some of these trains take you through breath-taking journeys. Here is my list of favourite trains and the scenic train journeys in India
Nilgiris Mountain Railways
I was probably three years old when I first experienced the Nilgiris Mountain Railways, commonly referred to as the toy train that chugs from Mettupalayam to Ooty on the Blue Mountains. It became an annual ritual throughout my childhood, as my father, had travelled on this train throughout his childhood and he wanted us to experience it. The only rack railway in India, the Nilgiris Mountain Railways are straight out of a fairy tale with its steam locomotives, as it chugs its way slowly through charming stations in the hills. They are surely my favourite, along with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Kalka Shimla Railway, which are equally breath-taking.
I was so excited about undertaking this journey, that my husband and I landed very early at the CST in Mumbai and camped at the platform. And while I was extremely sleepy, the moment we boarded the train, all thoughts of falling asleep just melted away. The scenery was so refreshing that as I breezed through the Sahyadri Hills, entering tunnels, crossing bridges, flying through mountains, rivers and valleys, I found myself lost in the lap of nature. There are 2000 bridges here, including the iconic Panvalnadi bridge, the highest viaduct in India.
A recommendation – Avoid the AC coaches and take the standard compartment and sit glued to the window seat to experience pristine nature.
It’s probably one of the shortest journeys, but then every moment is a picturesque landscape., making this one of the most scenic train journeys in India. In a little more than two hours, the train takes you from Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip in India to the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The view from the window is lush, filled with swaying coconut trees while the oceans interrupt the sea of green. And there are pretty villages with miniature houses and quaint churches, dotting the landscape.
Kangra Valley Railway
If you love the mountains and slow travel, then you must travel across the Kangra Valley on the Pathankot – Jogindernagar train, crossing deep gorges and verdant valleys. The Dhauladhar mountain ranges are a constant companion as you travel through the foothills of the Himalayas. The journey may be just about five hours, but your eyes would have feasted on everything beautiful about nature. The Kangra Valley Railway is nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is undoubtedly one of the most scenic train journeys in India.
The journey from Mangalore to Ratnagiri on the Konkan Railway is probably the most spectacular of all of them in terms of landscapes. The Western Ghats does not leave your sight, as you whiz past forests and beaches. Meandering streams charter their own courses, waterfalls come and go, while rivers turn into backwaters. The train takes you into the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka and the landscape is sheer poetry, especially if you travel during monsoons.
Jodhpur to Jaisalmer – Delhi Jaisalmer Express
Taking a break from mountains and forests, beaches and backwaters is the never-ending monochromatic landscape of sand dunes, as you board the train at Blue City, Jodhpur and head towards the Golden City, Jaisalmer. The train nicknamed the Desert Queen is a treat to parched eyes as you watch the sun create patterns and eyes playing tricks. You can sight a caravan in the desert or an oasis in the midst of nowhere. While the occasional desert vegetation breaks the monotony of the golden dunes, you can spot a smattering of people in the settlements. This is personally one of the most unusual but scenic train journeys in India.
As we are slowly entering the various stages of un-lock, Indian Railways will also be back on full steam, hissing and bellowing through these beautiful scenic journeys. And as you embark on these beautiful journeys, while maintaining social distancing and taking all the necessary precautions, facilitating your travel is the new IRCTC SBI Card on Rupay platform, India’s indigenous card payment scheme created by NPCI.
This credit card by SBI Card, provides up to 10% value back as Rewards on AC1, AC2, AC3, AC CC bookings made at irctc.co.in. You can also redeem these Reward Points at IRCTC website for free tickets!
Additional IRCTC SBI Credit Card benefits are as follows:
- No Joining fee till 31st March 2021
- 1 % transaction fee waiver on bookings made through IRCTC website
- 350 activation bonus Reward Points
- 1% fuel surcharge waiver across all petrol pumps in India
- up to 4 complimentary railway lounge access in a year
So, go ahead and get yourself an IRCTC SBI Credit Card and you will be ready to chug along these scenic routes as travel unlock begins.
In case you are interested to know more about the other travel cards offered by SBI Card such as Yatra SBI Card, Club Vistara SBI Card, Etihad Guest SBI Card & more, click here.