Riding the Indian Railway 🚞

Birthday boy waiting for the train
Birthday boy waiting for the train

In India, ‘riding the rails’ is an experience in itself! Everyone rides the train & the rail network goes almost everywhere, almost most of the time.

We have learned quickly that tickets need to be reserved well in advance, trying to book on-line is an exercise in futility & figuring out what car you should be in is well, just plain interesting.

Steerage (not 1AC)
Steerage (not 1AC)

For reference sake there are 7 classes of trains to choose, from 1AC first class with private, locking compartments to Unreserved with no AC, wooden seats & lots of people. Each category is based on cost & comfort level. We chose 2AC, a 2-tiered compartment with air conditioning & soft seats that fold down for napping. Most people choose this category as it is quite comfortable for long distance travel, also 1AC tickets are limited & hard to come by. After spending hours trying to book our e-ticket to Hampi we finally gave up & went to a travel agent. Success, reservation made!

Lesson #1 – book your ticket early at a travel agency.

Chai time-think this may be okay to drink
Chai time

We arrived early for our 7:30 a.m. departure. Today is Bob’s birthday, the air is crisp & the station is packed with travellers. After checking with several people where our platform is located we position ourselves at the designated spot, anxiously awaiting the train arrival. The train arrives, we look for our compartment but there are no visible markings on the train that is about 30-cars long. There are people all over the place making a beeline to board. You guessed it, we are at the wrong end of the train platform. Let the games begin!

Lesson #2 – don’t believe everything you are told.

We start jogging up the platform, dodging people, looking for our compartment. The train starts moving, we shout at each other “jump in”. We crammed ourselves into what is probably the lowest class section thinking we could just use the walk-through doors to get to our assigned compartment/seats. No luck again! Apparently the doors are locked  between the different compartment classes. The good news is we aren’t the only ones in this dilemma & were told the train would stop shortly down the way & we could hit the platform again to find our right car & seats, with a time far or of about 2-minutes.

Chilling out
Chilling out

Lesson #3 – don’t panic.

We finally find our seats, give a huge sigh of relief, purchase our chai (tea) & settle in for the 7-hour trip. Bob suddenly realizes how old he is.😜 Yes, this is a big milestone for him in the game of life.



Lesson #4 – things usually work out in the end.

The other thing to mention is that some transport routes operate only on certain days, so if you don’t do advance itinerary planning you are stranded in a place a day or two longer than originally planned. Since long-term planning is not one of our stronger strengths & we have a ‘general’ trip plan, we tend to organize things on the go.

Lesson #5 – itinerary planning is essential on India!

Oh yes, one more thing –

Lesson #6 – develop a nurses’ bladder 😅

The zoomer!
The zoomer!

Author: Theresa & Bob

We love to wander, aimlessly at times it seems, and will keep moving as far and as long as we can. Serendipity has provided many wonders along the way, when least expected, and we love the anticipation of the 'next great find' just around the corner.

16 thoughts on “Riding the Indian Railway 🚞”

  1. The zoomer! Haha I challenge you to practice your squatting skills on this. Maybe by the end of the trip you can do it and still keep your toes dry! 😉

    1. Yes, it is quite a feat to keep the feet dry. Not new to this type of ‘toilet’ but always get excited when western style are available. Also, so important to have tissues tucked in a pocket!!! 😺

  2. Happy Birthday Bob! Looking good, but I’m surprised it’s a bit cool…the train travel sounds like quite the experience, hat’s off to you both!

  3. Happy Birthday Bob.Definitely one you will remember as a very Special day.
    You are two very courageous people.
    Enjoy your adventures and stay safe.

  4. Happy Birthday, Bob! It will be memorable. Might I add #7 to your list….bring the gadget (available on line or in speciality camping stores) that allows you to stand up to empty that nurses’ bladder. Just sayin…😯

  5. Hi there,
    What an adventure! Guess we shouldn’t complain about our VIA rail service! Think I would have bathroom issues on that train. Cheers!

    1. Via Rail looks like the Orient Express compared to these trains! So glad my ‘nurses bladder’ is still intact, there was no way I was even going near that hole in the floor. 😬

  6. Happy Belated Birthday Bob! What an experience for both of you! I am enjoying the pics & commentary Theresa! Safe travels!

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