You know the saying “It’s the journey not the destination” well in most cases I don’t actually agree with this, I quite like arriving. When it comes to traveling by train in India though I do have to agree. My train journeys were surprisingly blissful and some of my favorite memories of India are from my long distance train trips around the south and north.
Ok I admit my train journey from Goa to Mumbai was a total nightmare
I booked the cheapest ticket available and my coach was packed full of men, I was the only female. I didn’t even have a seat and ended up sleeping in the middle of an aisle alongside said random men. Men were on my right, my left, above my head and by my feet.
It did cross my mind that if I was going to run into trouble in India this might be the time. It wasn’t a comfortable journey but I actually didn’t have any problems at all with the perfect gentlemen in that testosterone filled coach.
After that long slog of a journey to Mumbai I figured a few things out about traveling by train in India and the rest of my train journeys were fine. Better than fine… I loved them!
I enjoy traveling by train in India and no I’m not crazy!
Let me explain why I love traveling by train in India. Firstly, I’m an introvert, a day dreamer and a total space angel. I like to zone out and doodle and write lists and go through photos and lose myself in a book. Like with long flights, where else do you get to indulge in doing absolutely nothing other than on a long train journey? Ok… on a long boat trip into the middle of the ocean, yeah I guess on a camel safari too. Enough already! (Voices in my head again, did I just write that I’m not crazy?).
Trains in England vs Trains in India
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge train travel fan in general. I don’t like the vibe of most western trains (UK, Europe) they smell artificial and like chemical cleaning products, I guess because they’re cleaned… which is a good thing I suppose. You always get someone sitting near you that has to start munching through a bag of walkers crisps (thats chips for you Americans) within the first 5 minutes of sitting down or worse an egg or cheese and pickle sandwich (that’s EVERY train journey in England). Plus you can’t get the windows down so traveling by train in the UK and Europe just makes me feel claustrophobic and irritable. Oh my god then there’s the delays! Anyway….
The number one thing I love most about traveling by train in India is that the windows most of the time don’t even have glass in them (hooray) and the cool breeze can waft over my face as I admire the beautiful scenery rolling by… unobstructed by finger print smeared glass.
Tasty snacks at every station stop
In India I love pulling into the different train stations along the way and being able to reach out through the open window from where I’m sitting and buy a snack off a tray that’s held up for me! If I wasn’t sitting in economy class I’d feel like freakin royalty. Move over Meghan! If I need to stretch my legs I love being able to jump off the train for 5 minutes or so at a station, soak up the hustle and bustle, down a glass of hot chai and then return to my seat for more hours of doing absolutely nothing. Bliss!
I love that the fare’s fair!
I love the fact that train travel in India is fairly priced, cheap in fact and you can’t fly for the same price like in the UK. In England a trip I would often take would be from London Paddington to Penzance in Cornwall, a 6 hour journey, the price would be about £100/$140. When the train leaves late and is overbooked so I don’t even get to sit down and have to stand or sit in an aisle for most of the journey… after paying that price, I feel cheated. In India, the train fares are so cheap compared to the UK that they are allowed (and expected) to be late, to be jam packed and to be chaotic. Fair’s fair. Or should I say… fare’s fair. You know what though? Most of the time India’s trains run on time, aren’t terribly packed (depending on where you’re going) and are a pretty chilled way to travel (once you get seated).
I love chatting to random strangers when traveling by train in India
My blissful day dreaming sessions on train trips in India are interrupted occasionally with light and polite conversation with strangers sitting nearby. Conversations with strangers on trains make my day a little fuller and my travels one thousand times richer. #India #Travel Click To Tweet When on a train in India your travel plans for the destination you’re headed to could change in a instant. You might be invited to stay with a family, to a wedding or for a chai at their shop. You may be sitting still on a train, but you’re not stagnating when you can create lots of new travel options for yourself by chatting to strangers. Like a tightly wound coil the moment you reach your destination you can spring into action and go in an entirely different direction than originally planned. At the very least you should have had an invite to at least one wedding before disembarking. 😉
Personal body space… totally overrated, who needs it?!
Finally, I love the fact that when I’m traveling by train in India I can actually get comfortable and relax despite my personal body space being completely invaded. Random babies have been placed in my lap while the mama paints her toe nails or adjusts her sari on numerous occasions. The breeze keeping me cool, the stunning scenery rolling by and the gentle chatter in a language I don’t understand makes what would be torturous elsewhere, ok when on a train in India, albeit rather pleasant.
Or maybe I am just crazy? You decide.
Have you spent time in India and used the trains? Do you love or hate traveling by train in India? Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section below.
If you’re traveling to India for the first time use one of these India Travel Guides to plan your trip. I’ve always been a fan of Lonely Planet’s.