Most enjoyable journey in India.
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Most enjoyable journey in India.

What was your most enjoyable journey in India?

It could be by train, bus, plane, cycle, motorbike, taxi, rickshaw, jeep or even elephant.

My first daytime experience of a proper Indian train (I had already done an overnight journey and went on the Blue Mountain Railway to Ooty) was from Mysore to Bangalore (about 3 hours).

A friend and I had Chair Class tickets, but moved to a half full second class carraige so we could see India (Chair Class, like air-con class has darkened windows).

It was the most amazing journey I have ever been on, no stunning scenery, no hills, I opened the outside door and sat with my feet on the footplate and watched India go by, there wasn’t a moment when I couldn’t see someone working in a field or washing clothes in a stream, some boys playing by the railway line and stopping to wave to you, stopping at small villages and watching people washing themselves and a cow by a well, children coming to the train just to touch you.

All the time on this train a local man was explaining everything I had found confusing about India, he could see my fascination with the countryside and kept telling me to keep looking around (and not at him) and he would explain everything I was seeing, I never wanted that journey to end. :cool:

It is fair to say I fell in love with India that day.

Anyone else have a special journey to share?

192 Replies

| Member

Blue remembered hills

Bit of a long post here...but sometimes you really have to tell it like it was:

The most memorable part of our trip to India in 2001 has to be the journey from Chennai to Udhagamandalam. We left the comforting chaos of Chennai in the late evening on the Nilgiri Express – it was to be my first train journey in India. 2AC seemed a luxurious sanctuary from the long hot day and we had it for 9 hours. Our compartment was near the carriage door and the curtains to our compartment kept wafting open as people walked by and opened the door. We decided that stitching the curtains together with our sewing kit was vital for our privacy!

My husband, Richard, was on his second trip to India and, not unusually, slept soundly on the train. Not me! In my sleep deprived half-dreams I imagined what the scenery outside was like as we "expressed" by it, in the moonlight. As I watched Richard being shaken around his little bed in the half darkness, my delusional thoughts wondered at how this blue diesel behemoth that crawled out of Chennai, seemed to chuck itself around so much. Had we jumped the tracks and were we bumping across the desert in the wrong direction? Where would we end up in the morning? More worrying, would the stitches in the curtains hold? Minor things seem to become really important in India until you let go…

Our arrival at Mettupalayam the next morning, proved my theory of the escapee train were unfounded. A very different wall of sound met our ears as we stepped off the train, it was the beautiful chaos of rural India. A rooster announced the morning almost as frequently as the guy on the station said “Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee.” The hot November sun started rising and the tracks stretched out in front of us. The little blue steam train pulled up at the station and apart from a cow on the line, we were ready for our trip on the Nilgiri Blue Mountain railway, up to Ooty, by raw steam power. The day stretched ahead of us, full of the promise of cool breezes amongst the tea plantations.

The train journey itself was filled with fantastic experiences. It could have been the sleep deprivation that added the mystical quality, but even the photographs we took managed to freeze a little of the magic of the ascent into those cool green forested Nilgiri hills. It was hazily warm with an intoxicatingly cool breeze as we snaked up the hills, through banana palms and neat terraced plantations. My senses were confused by the sight of eucalyptus forests that only mean home to me as I’d only ever seem them in Australia. Here was something a familiar, and yet so unknown - blue hazy hills.

Even though we had the safety of the train, it felt wild and surreal. If you looked carefully you could see that the bananas were covered in thick spider webs and I marvelled at the size of the spiders that must had woven them. Richard, as a steam train junkie was in his own perfect otherworld here. Once I saw the dragonflies, that was it for me – my favourite part of my trip had arrived on this second day of being in the country. My favourite denizens of the insect world were around in abundance, and it was a complete surprise. They zipped around like little red faeries in the dappled light.

Enough of hazy daydreams. There was pure reality to this journey too. You could tell when you were near a station because the track-sides were junked up with rubbish. Cups, packets, water bottles. Things are how they are, litter is a part of India, but you couldn’t look past it or ignore it or stop yourself from casting a judgement on those who chucked their rubbish out of the window, into this beautiful greenness. But, the only difference is that in places like the UK, we hide it. We put it in a bin, someone takes it away and buries it in the places that aren’t considered so beautiful. Like all things in India, you see things how they really are, not hidden by a glamour.

Every great adventure has river crossings, and the route had plenty of hairy ones. The tracks passed over extremely high bridges, with no sides and you could look down from the window straight into the chasms below. We stopped at a station where a sign told of a calamity in 1993 – a massive land-slide on the tracks that killed hundreds. You need to understand that I’m just summing it up - the actual sign gives the rainfall in exact millimetres and the precise cubic metres of earth and boulders that were cleared. It’s very real as you stand there in that place, doing your sums to work out the scale of it all.

Then we got back on the train and chuffed over bridges made from matchsticks, up to Ooty and its beautiful cool breezes and gardens. A man with a rifle joined our carriage. He rested his gun barrel on his knee. We checked out his uniform and tried to work out if he was the police. My husband struck up a conversation by saying “Hello Captain” and we found out that he was a train guard. We were glad we had tickets!

If by now you were in India, still clinging to your cotton-wool ideas of western safety, this was the time to let go and just give yourself up the spirit of being on the eastern edge.

Reality and dreams can be found on the tracks of the Blue Mountain Railway...
| Honorary Mod
Funny that was my favourite ever journey in India too, although I also LOVED the narrow gauge train from Kalka to Shimla back in 1997, not to mention the trip from Coimbatore to Ernakulam in 2001 after our Ooty trip.

Anyone else have any favourite journeys?
:elee: IndiaMike Mod Team (The Honorary One)
| Senior Member
I am thinking of all of the treks that I have done in Ladakh, and each of them was totally memorable. The best was when I stayed in a Tibetan Nomad camp, at Tso Kar, for 10 days. I photographed everything that moved and most things that didn't, as well as keeping a detailed diary. But, my most enjoyable journey, is one that I have done many times. Calcutta, Howrah Station to Sudder Street, by river ferry and by rickshaw wallah. Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner.....
| Senior Member
I liked the train ride from Kalka to Shimla too. I cried it was so beautiful, but my favourite journey was from Manali to Amritsar by bus. It was a long and bumpy ride but we had such a good time. There was 2 brothers who sat behind who kept teaching us how to sing hindu songs and in exchange we tried to teach them songs from Grease, then there was this crazy old guy to the left who kept teasing us with lies and laughing at us when we believed them. We met some lovely Israeli's lads who were so positive and interested in everything that it was contagious. We sat at the back of the bus and the bumps knocked us clean off our seats and the conductor guy kept laughing. It was the last time we would see the mountains and the sun was setting beautifully and I cried to be leaving the mountains because i was so lucky to ever have seen them. It sounds crap but it wasn't when i was there.
| Lost in translation
Steve, This is the route you said above. The picture is taken from Chamundy Express crossing the Kavery river. The old abandoned bridge also on the photo.
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| Joolay !!!
I think mine's my first train journey, too.

Mumbai to Goa doesn't have the most incredible scenery in India but it was my first taste of India outside a city and it totally blew me away. I'd also just met my friends Lisa and Paul in Mumbai and, having been travelling on my own for quite a while up to that point, was really glad to have such great company.

It was also the first time I heard " Chai, Ch-Chai Chai Chai-yaaaa !", a sound that I've grown to love.

The transition from the sun-scorched plains of Maharashtra to the lush greenery around the Chapora river was incredibly beautiful. Just to cap it all, a troupe (sp?) of HUGE monkeys casually wandered across the road as we got a taxi from Pernem to Arambol - the first time I'd ever seen so many monkeys in the wild.

Just brilliant. :)

A journey I'm looking forward to doing one day is the Manali - Leh bus ride. Anyone got any good stories about that? I've heard the scenery variously described as 'awesome', 'unbelievable' and 'the best thing on Earth' ! :D

Out There Somewhere : My Travel Blog.
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The 16 hour bus ride from Jalpaiguri to Guwahati ....... and the 14 hour bus ride from Guwahati to Tawang in Arunachal pradesh ....... wild elephants on the route ..... Sela pass ..... Tawang monastery ... meadows of the eastern Himalayas ......

Yes definitely the Kalka to Shimla train journey done for the first time way back in 1994 ......

The Bullet ride from Manali to Leh and onwards to Nubra and then Srinagar ..... resulted in a long back ache though it was wonderful ........

The Jeep ride from Pushkar to Goa ...... on a Mahindra Classic jeep hired from jaipur all the way to Goa ...... No sleep juat a long tract of road and the towns between them .....
| Member
The train ride from Delhi to Varanasi.

I was determined to leave Delhi ASAP but it being my first time in India I had not a clue how to get to Varanasi, after spending 6 hours of negotiating with many cups of chai and lectures about how wonderful other places where and that the salesman was going to be buried where he wanted me to go ,I got an All in Deal for Hotel and train ride , the train was going to leave in 40 minutes and we were still in the travel agency office :-( , I was rushed to the station Hollywood style , and finally made it in the train , it had my name posted on the side of the train!! , very strange !.

Boarded the train at 19:45 and got comfy Sleeper class AC, it left Delhi and with it the noise left my head , only the slow chucking of the diesel engine and the soft cry , chai ! Chai ! Chai ! that went on and on , the next morning I could not wait to have a peek outside as it stopped just before Allahabad, it was amazing like looking at a life painting , and being in it yourself , I really started to get the true feeling a feeling of having succeeded in leaving it all behind.
| Maha Guru Member

That old Rock n' Rolling Ferry Boat,,,,,,,

For my favourite trip I'm plumping for "That old Rock n' Rolling Ferry Boat,,,,,,,"
The one which sailed the high seas between Bombay & Goa uptill the mid eighties,,,,,,,
I'm remembering the seventies when we used to get down to the bombay docks early morning ready for the 11-30am sailing.
I did the trip loads of times,so these were'nt one off memories.
There were always 20, 30 or more westerners on board heading for goa, especially if you were there in december when goa for xmas & new year was espacially attractive.
Somehow the rear of the ship was were everyone aimed for, in fact it was usually taken over, there was only benches to sit on , but groups of people just seemed to get together,,,,,,,,,
As soon as the ferry left bombay chillums were lit up, guitars and what ever it needed for a jamming session appeared and that was how it carried on for the naxt 21 hrs all night down to panjim goa,,,,,,,,,
There was no LP guides or IM advice then, people just talked about their own experiences, & exchanged information about what to see & where to go.
Sadly That old ferry boat doesn't ply the seas anymore but for those who sailed on her the memories sail on,,,,,,,,,,,,,
| Member
1. Kalka-Shimla by train in 1995; an enjoyable journey for two reasons: one it was my first journey by rail to Shimla and two it was by Rail Car. The halt at lovely Barog station on the chilly, misty March morning is etched in memory.

2. Igatpuri to Deolali by train in 2000; a routine business trip to Igatpuri became a special one as I travelled in the loco of the Dadar-Nagpur Express between the two stations! My first and till date last journey in a loco; truly memorable !
Whoever said money can't buy happiness didn't know where to shop !
| Gruntled Member
The Kangra railway from Pathankot is a delight. A friend and I used this train on a sunny day last October as a scenic way of reaching McLeod Ganj. We needed both an auto-rickshaw and a taxi to travel the last 20 or so km up the mountain from the railway which follows the valley.

The train was full of locals and we saw no other foreign tourists.
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| Member
The jeep ride to Dharjeeling and onwards to Gangtok and Kalingpong is quite stunning ... and certainly a favourite of mine ... and I would definitely include the Kalka-Shimla toy-train ride in this list. I unfortunately could not do the Dharjeeling train trip but I believe that it is also up there with the best.
| Bulk Carrier
Being a hard core rail nut, the most recent rail trips always count as memorable. My rail trips: Palghat to Rameswaram, Madurai to Bodinayyakanur and Tirunelveli to Quilon and back were some memorable journeys I made last year.

But my most memorable journey was the road-drive from Bangalore to Udupi via Sakleshpur and Dharmasthala and return to Bangalore via Agumbe. Travelling through those densely wooded and wet regions felt like a trip through an enchanted forest. Especially the drive through Agumbe...the misty evening will be a memory forever. The rain swept Sringeri landscape, deep forests before Chickmagalur, coffee planations at Sakleshpur and the sparkling streams near Dharmasthala...all the while it rained now and then, rendering the whole journey literally dust free.
...and I took the road less travelled.
| Senior Member

Originally posted by: beachSteve, This is the route you said above. The picture is taken from Chamundy Express crossing the Kavery river. The old abandoned bridge also on the photo.

Hey, I went over that bridge in an auto-rickshaw last November!!

I also enjoyed the trip Steve described. Like him, we sat in the doorway of a second class carraige and watched the world go by. Also did similar on the ride up through the Western Ghats from Mumbai to Guntakal. That was spectacular.