The Most Scenic Train Routes in India

Darjeeling train
Photo: Collected

Lots of people with suitcases waiting on a dusty platform, a steady clacking and thudding that comes to a screeching halt, a brief silence as people climb lazily onto their coaches, and then we’re off! Train rides in India are the best way to see greenery, cows in the distance, and even people once in a while.

As train travel slowly gets back to how it was before the pandemic and people get used to the new normal, more and more people are taking slow travel to satisfy their urge to see the world. And Indian Railways has paid attention! The Kalka-Shimla route is about to get three new toy trains for the first time since the service started 118 years ago. We take you on some of the most beautiful train rides in India that you will never forget.

Kalka-Shimla Heritage Train

From Kalka to Shimla is 96 km, and the trip takes 5 hours and 30 minutes.

The train ride from Kalka to Shimla is back after a break caused by Covid. It takes you along one of the most beautiful trails in the world. The hop-on, hop-off train service takes you along the 96.6 km narrow-gauge railway section, which was built in 1903 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This engineering marvel was built in just three years, and it has 103 tunnels and 800 bridges. Along the way, passengers can see beautiful views of rough mountains, lush pine forests, waterfalls, valleys, and picture-perfect hill stations. From Kalka in Haryana, the train starts climbing at 656 meters through steep mountains and curves. It takes 18 stations to reach Shimla, which is 2,076 meters above sea level.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Starting in New Jalpaiguri and ending in Darjeeling, the trip is 84 km long and takes 7 hours and 20 minutes.

This train started running again after a 17-month break because of Covid-19. Every day, it goes from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) uphill through thick groves of pine and around rich green tea plantations until it hoots into Darjeeling. When it was first built in the late 1800s, the railway was used to bring tea and rice down to the plains. Today, this attraction, which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, moves slowly along a 2-feet narrow-gauge track that winds through beautiful scenery with stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayas. The Batasia Loop is an engineering marvel that is one of the most exciting parts of the track.

The Mandovi Express 

From Mumbai CST to Madgaon Junction (Goa), which is 581 km away, the trip takes 11 hours and 50 minutes.

The Konkan Railway is one of the most beautiful train rides in India. To the left are the tall Sahyadri Hills, and to the right is the sparkling Arabian Sea. The trip will take you through thick forests, winding valleys, and along clean rivers in a fast-moving coach. Most of the time, you’ll have your nose to the window because the scenery changes every few hours and there are new things to see around every corner. The train goes over more than 2,000 bridges and through more than 92 tunnels. The view from the train is beautiful, with coconut trees bending in the background and rivers rushing under the sleepers.

Express Island

Start: Bengaluru; End: Kanniyakumari; Distance: 944km; Duration: 20 hours 30 minutes

From Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala, to the last stop in Tamil Nadu, which is 87 km away, shows that good things can come in small packages. As the train chug-chugs along, waterlogged paddy fields roll by, palm trees bend as if to welcome you, and glimpses of children playing street cricket take you back to a simpler time. In fact, you won’t even mind when stray branches hit the sides of the train and break off, leaving broken twigs all over the aisles.

Kyq Capital Express

Start: Rajendranagar T (Bihar); End: Kamakhya (Assam); Distance: 968 km Duration: 22 hours 50 minutes

Even though this train goes from Bihar to Assam, which is a long distance, the route it takes from Siliguri Junction to Alipurduar on the last leg of its trip is what makes it memorable. The trail will take you to places like the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Chapramari Forest, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, and Buxa Tiger Reserve, which are all great places to see nature and wildlife. Even though it’s hard to see wild animals from a moving train, everyone enjoys seeing the natural beauty of the Himalayas and the Teesta and Sankosh rivers flowing through the mountains.

The Journey to the East

Start/End: New Delhi/Mumbai/Mumbai; Distance: 1524 km; Time: 7 nights, 8 days, Price: $7,320 per cabin, or about 5.12 lakh per person.

If you agree with the saying that the journey is more important than the destination, then this ride is for you. The Deccan Odyssey has 21 luxurious coaches, 11 of which are used to house guests and the rest for things like dining, lounge, conference car, and health spa. Riding on the Deccan Odyssey is a top-notch experience. There are six carefully planned itineraries for tourists to choose from. These include a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a great vineyard, a palatial residence, sun-kissed beaches, and quiet backwaters. The itineraries are called Maharashtra splendor journey, Indian odyssey journey, Jewels of the Deccan, Hidden treasures of Gujarat, Maharashtra wild trail, and Indian Sojourn.