Travelling on trains in India, makes for a wondrous journey filled with amazing sights of towns, villages and other dwelling places and a mesmerising view of hundreds of thousands of acres of farmlands, draped in a blanket of early morning fog, or fresh crops bathing in sunshine and morning due, or forests filled with freshest of waters, or just simple people trying to get by their lives.
The country is so big, that it sometimes takes upto 3 days to go from one corner of the country to another. Consequently the country also has one of the largest railway networks in the world employing over 1.5 million people to serve over 25 million passengers travelling on 15,000 trains – every single day.
Visiting India and taking a 5 day trip to the mountains while using only trains as means of transport, after staying abroad and being used to high speed trains and urban-ness for a long stretch of an year made me realise how amazing India is, and how even more amazing the Indian Railways is. Serving 7 billion passengers annually, despite the bad reservation system and incompetent management, running a network of that scale in a developing nation is no small feat by any means.
I decided, every time I visit India, I will explore the country, travelling to the remotest parts (that are safe) while using trains as my primary means of transport.
Here is a glimpse of my experience..
Train stations tickle all your senses with the amazing variety of smells from foods stalls and sweet stands, mixed with the bad ones from the ill-maintained tracks and places – while you are simultaneously doused in the clamouring sounds of hawkers and vendors; beggars and coolies; and bustling sounds of people just trying to reach their destinations in their own busy lives.
Here is a short video I shot while hanging off the doors, along with dozen others, of a moving train that is about to come to a halt at a station …