Train journeys have a charm of their own and these routes are as breathtaking as they get. By Satyaki Sarkar
People who love to travel have a lot of things in common, be it their fascination with nature, unfettered open roads, or the exhilarating feeling of exploring places unknown. And there’s one particular thing that resonates with almost every person who’s been bitten by the travel bug, and that is a love for train journeys. The rhythmic chug-chug of the engine, while the train and winds and rushes past beautiful landscapes, leaving everything behind, is like an instant shot of happiness! If you love train travel as much as we do you’ll love these five beautiful train rides that take you on a magical journey.
1. Karjat to Lonavala
This train ride takes you through the heart of the Western Ghats, known for their bounteous biodiversity. While it’s a spellbinding place to visit all year round, during monsoon it simply becomes enchantingly magical. The lush greenery, rejuvenated by the rains, looks resplendent, with a number of streams and waterfalls surging out of them in great spurts. The train journey starts from Karjat, near Mumbai, and passes through the village settlements of Thakurwadi, winding up to Monkey Hill, before crossing Khandala and finally taking you to your destination, which is Lonavala.
Photograph: Arjun Singh Kulkarni/Creative Commons
2. Vizag to Araku
Passing through one of the most beautiful landscapes in India, this train ride takes you through the vibrant green landscapes around Visakhapatnam. With the fresh, chilly air hitting your face as you lean out, you will pass through as many as 58 tunnels and over 84 bridges. On the sides you will see a number of coffee plantations, making it look like a scene out of a handpainted postcard. Also dotting the route are countless towering cliffs, thundering waterfalls, and gushing streams, making the journey an unforgettable experience. The train also passes by the Bora caves, before finally arriving at your destination, the magnificent Araku Valley.
3. Mettupalayam to Ooty
Passing through the Nilgiri mountain range, this railway line has been running for over 110 years, and is one you simply cannot miss. This famous toy train, known as the Nilgiri Mountain Train, takes you through the wonderfully picturesque rocky terrain, as it winds and meanders its way through a host of beautiful tea plantations. The trains runs on a fleet of steam engines, and are well recognisable thanks to the popular song Chaiya Chaiya from the movie Dil Se when Shah Rukh Khan danced on top of the train.
Photograph: Nicolas Mirguet/Flickr
4. Neral to Matheran
The Matheran Hill railway is a popular heritage railway in Maharashtra, and is an immensely beloved train journey for Indian as well as foreign tourists. The train runs through a brilliant landscape of dappled forests accompanied by red mud, cheery mountain folk, and majestic views whenever you look out of the window. Covering a distance of around 20 km, the train starts from Neral, a hill town in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, and zigzags through winding valleys marked by sharp turns and hanging ledges, before bringing you to the hill town of Matheran, located 110 km away from Mumbai.
Photograph: Ankit Shah/Flickr
5. Siliguri to Darjeeling
Yet another iconic hill station route, this train starts its journey from Jalpaiguri and continues on through a series of picturesque mountain valleys before reaching its destination, Darjeeling. Passing by Darjeeling’s famous tea plantations, the ride gives you a stage-side view of the lush green hillsides, full of tea-pickers with baskets strapped to their heads. As you take in the wonderfully exotic aroma of freshly plucked tea leaves lingering in the air, the chug chug of the train will lull you into a feeling of relaxation, putting your mind and body completely at ease.
Photograph: AHEMSLTD~commonswiki/Creative Commons