Riding India’s idiosyncratic trains

A foreigner’s view of train travel in India

Riding a train in India has always seemed to me like a traveler’s rite of passage. Admittedly, I had romanticized the notion a bit, imagining it to be something between the eclectic scenes of Wes Anderson’s 2007 fictional film “The Darjeeling Limited” and the slightly more chaotic and realistic version portrayed by Anthony Bourdain in his Travel Channel show, “No Reservations.”

In reality, taking the train in India is definitely a colorful experience, but depending on the route, train stations and class of cars, it can also be surprisingly efficient and even somewhat relaxing.

First, let’s start with some of the inevitable chaos that taking the train can entail. My first encounter with India’s rail system took place in New Delhi, before the crack of dawn. Like many journeys in India, it all started innocently enough. Myself and a group of fellow travelers on an excursion with tour operator Haimark piled into a caravan of cars headed to the rail station.

As we neared the station, the cars became engulfed by a growing number of vehicles funneling into the station’s lot. Before we knew it, we were in gridlock. That’s when low-level stress, the worry of possibly missing our train, began to seep in.  But there was no reason to be overly concerned. We slowly inched our way toward the station entrance, where we hopped out and began quickly weaving our way toward the platform.

Read the full report here, Travel Weekly


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