India on a rail trip: wild train journeys in the north

From the confluence of India’s three rivers, to family itineraries out of Niteroi in the Philippines, we try out the region’s best train journeys India Beautiful journeys: the Corbett Darjeeling Himalayan train Photograph: Alamy…

India on a rail trip: wild train journeys in the north

From the confluence of India’s three rivers, to family itineraries out of Niteroi in the Philippines, we try out the region’s best train journeys

India

Beautiful journeys: the Corbett Darjeeling Himalayan train Photograph: Alamy

This journey through the north Indian state of Uttarakhand takes in many of the sites of India’s annual spiritual festival of Pithoragarh, the hill station where Lord Buddha was born. Along the way, the overnight journey snakes through the rocky hills and through more than 80 villages. The journey starts in Gorakhpur. Book it: no accommodation is provided.

Navratri Experience, Goa by train

Navratri Experience Navratri Experience

In Goa, a two-hour boat journey takes you to the shore at Anjuna, where you can purchase gift boxes for the lucky people (various denominations) who got picked out as “The Good Luck Navratri Nite” (it costs Rs50) at the scheduled selection point (three rolls of paper, approx, cost 2,000 paise, £21). As the train travels, you will arrive at Navratri venues (museums, churches, restaurants) where guests will dance and commune with tigers. Let’s hope it is not raining, otherwise you might lose the tigers and the place.

The first leg of the train journey is flagged off at Guwahati, capital of Assam, from Guwahati from where the 2,620-mile train journey will head into the north and then northeast of the country. From here, on 29 November, you are headed through the Mahananda river confluence of three rivers, which includes the Terai, Harirang and Devanga. Try some Assamese food before boarding, which you can purchase in the BDR bus terminal at the start of the journey. No accommodation is provided, though multiple onboard bars do exist. From Guwahati, there are stops in Khoraksankhel, Kozhikode and Srirangapatna before the trek ends in Arjuna.

From 20 June, 2018, to 23 July, 2019. The train journey costs from Rs4,200 to Rs4,800 per passenger. See indiaratways.in.

The fly-drive Indian Tourist Committee review: The Disneyland of the East – Nepal

Disneyland of the East – Nepal Photograph: The Indian Tourist Committee

Nepal’s stunning northern landscape, with its many glaciers, of course, but also the jungles, ghats and mud walls of its glacial interior (another reason why I love it), make an ideal destination for a scenic train journey. The train will take you via the “Skyline Town” of Gorakhpur, stop off at Dhading for a tea party, and then hit the waters of Puri. Back at its base at Mujiburhagi station, the train will continue to Nawalparasi, the second station of the journey and home to the temple of Lord Jagannath. A book is provided with three meals a day, a delicious souvenir, a hearty afternoon tea, and some entertaining anecdotes.

Recommended, again, by Narendra Singh

Indonesia

A family India-style trip in a Bajaj bus Photograph: Diana Knieriemen

Set up by the Indian Railway Benevolent Society in 1959, this route from Kota, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, starts in Ahmedabad and ends at Niteroi, in a day. Back in Kota, the popular overnight train gets passengers down to Kaifiyat Fort, located in a desert near the border with Afghanistan, and then takes passengers down to the city of Rajasthan. Next day, they will continue to Baba Nanak up in the Udaipur hills, the city of Ranthambore, and then Korganj, also an archaeological site. The train will wind its way down the Mahananda river, taking in the train station, the desert, a small town called Hemphund, Bajaj, where you can obtain your commemorative rock crystal, the pilgrimage site of Varanasi and the Kaifiyat Sahib. The trip costs from Rs5,000 to Rs6,000 a passenger. See indiaratways.in.

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