Beautiful train journeys that will blow your mind in Incredible India

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Anupama Nair

If you ask a person who lived till the 17th Century, what is a train he will be astounded! All he has been used to traveling is horses, horse-carts, elephants, camels, and bullock carts. Never would he have imagined a man would have invented a train. As it is said, necessity is the mother of invention, Industrial Revolution led to the invention of trains. Have you ever thought, about who invented the train? Well, the answer would be quite complicated. Would you believe me if I tell you the history of the train can be traced back thousands of years? From here, incremental steps were taken which allows us to end up with the trains that we are familiar with today. It is therefore not possible to identify one person as the inventor of the train.

Early examples of wagonways have been documented, dating back as far as the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. To create these wagonways, either rail was put down on which wagons could run or grooves were cut into the ground which would guide the wagon along a fixed line. These wagons were either powered by humans or pulled by horses or bulls. These types of “tracks” have been discovered near Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian historical sites. Wagonways during this period were mainly used to connect trading posts or to bring rocks or stones from mines to construction sites, rather than for leisure or public transportation purposes.

The first steam-powered engine was invented in 1698 by Thomas Savery, although this machine was not intended for powering rail vehicles. Whilst the engine could be used for its intended purpose (raising water), there were several serious flaws in the design. However, other engineers and inventors were able to use this as inspiration for their creations.

The first self-propelled steam engine was invented by James Watt, with the help of his assistant William Murdoch, nearly 60 years after Savery made his designs. They were able to create a working model, but, unfortunately, they did not produce a full-scale locomotive that was able to pull wagons. In the year 1804, a full-scale locomotive was created by Richard Trevithick. This locomotive completed the first-ever steam-powered rail journey, pulling 5 carriages, 10 tons of iron, and 70 passengers. They were still many major flaws in Trevithick’s designs, and they were not widely adopted. Trevithick’s work was not much recognized and unfortunately, he died penniless and alone.

In the following 20 years, locomotives were created by a range of inventors, who each made adaptations to designs, to try to find something that would be successful and feasible for commercial use. George Stephenson built on the designs of his forerunners and produced the Locomotion No 1, which was used on the first public steam railway in the world, between Stockton and Darlington. He commercialized his success by creating a company that produced locomotives for sale for both commercial and public transportation purposes.

The railways came to India during the reign of the British East India Company. In 1832, the idea of setting up a railway system in British India was first proposed. Unfortunately, rail travel was still in its infancy in Britain, but the East India Company was aware of the benefits of developing an extensive rail network. After a long decade of delay, private entrepreneurs were allowed to establish a rail system by Lord Hardinge, the Governor-General of India in 1844. Two companies were formed in 1845 namely "The East Indian Railway Company" and the "Great Indian Peninsula Railway". In 1853, the first train in India traveled between Bori Bunder (Victoria Terminus), Bombay, and Thane at a distance of around 34 km. The network of about 14,500 Km was developed in 1880 around the three major port cities of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. In 1901, Railway Board was formed under the guidance of the Department of Commerce and Industry. However, still, the powers remained with the Viceroy.

Indian Railways after Independence is the fourth-largest network in the world, spanning over 1.2 Lakh Km across the country. Mainly, three kinds of services are provided by the Indian Railway to the public — Express trains, Mail Express, and Passenger Trains. Now, let me take you on a breathtaking train journey in India. If you have not traveled, the length and breadth of my great country Bharat, you are at a great loss. It is not too late yet, you can start when Corona is thankfully over.

The Maharajas’ Express from the national capital Delhi to the financial capital Mumbai is guaranteed to blow your mind. This luxurious train will take you across five different states — Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. The exquisite train journey is similar to vacation on wheels. The 6 Nights/7 Days journey will give you the best of stay, food, and not to forget, you get a chance to see destinations like Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Mumbai. There was a misconception, that only foreigners can travel on this train, however, it is open to all if you can afford it.

The Vasco da Gama route between Hubli and Madgaon in Goa is another breathtaking journey. If you travel on the Goa Link Express or the Yesvantpur Express, you will experience one of the most awe-inspiring train rides of your life. By traveling on the Hubli-Madgaon route, you will come across the Dudhsagar Waterfalls which is a true 300m force of nature. If you are keen to experience such a  great site,  alight at the Londa Junction, which is the nearest station to Dudhsagar Falls.

An experience that takes you out of the world is the luxurious Deccan Odyssey where you see the best of Maharashtra and Goa. The Deccan Odyssey begins in Mumbai and goes through Sindhudurg, Goa, Vasco, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Nashik, and finally Delhi. You even have a top-notch ayurvedic spa and steam baths on board the train! What are you waiting for?

 

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an experience one must have while visiting the hill station of Darjeeling. The 78-km long trip is for eight hours and passes through Siliguri Town, Siliguri Junction, Sukna, Rangtong, Tindharia, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada, Ghum, Rongbul, Jorebunglow, and Batasia Loop. I am sure you must have heard a lot about the Toy Train in Darjeeling. Take a ride from Darjeeling to Ghum to get the perfect Hill View.

 

Do not leave Shimla without experiencing the toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla via the historic Himalayan Queen which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The iconic and historic train takes you through beautiful valley views and meadows that surround Shimla. It’s a completely true hill experience, which you will not get anywhere else in India. The journey takes you through 102 tunnels and 82 bridges. Amazing isn’t it?

 

As you can see traveling on Indian Railways along these routes will be the journey of a lifetime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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