India is one of the largest countries in the world, with an area of over three million square kilometres. There exists a varying degree of terrain and climate across the entire landscape of India. One of the major parts of the sub-continent is North India, a dry place with a fluctuating amount of heat and cold temperatures. The north is pristine in its beauty, from the lush forests and mountains to the dry arid desert of Rajasthan. It is home to more than half a billion people and is economically a major part of the country.
The Railway network acts as a medium for the economy to flourish; it ferries people and freight to almost every nook and cranny in the country. The IR’s reach is vast and expansive; it covers virtually any small town or village on the map. From the rice fields of Punjab, the snowy valley of Jammu and Kashmir, to the coast of Bengal there are very few places the railway network fails to reach.
Trains offer an experience unmatched by any other form of transport. Some train journeys that traverse the vast beauty of the North are:
- Himalayan Queen: A UNESCO world heritage site, this train runs from Kalka (Haryana) to Shimla (Himachal Pradesh). It is a one-metre gauge that is famous for its hundred and two curves, eighty-seven bridges and nearly nine-hundred curves. It has now become a tourist attraction, and one can see orchards blooming, and small streams flowing.
- Indian Maharaja Deccan Odyssey: A brand new luxury train, modelled after the Palace on Wheels, it is the closest option to travelling like how Rajput Kings once did. This journey connects Mumbai and Delhi with sojourns in Rajasthan, which is the highlight of the trip. The train stops during the day, so one can go tiger spotting at Ranthambore, visit the caves at Ajanta and Ellora and even spend an afternoon at the TajMahal. The service and features on board are impeccable; one can enjoy fine dining and enjoy the sights while sipping drinks in the bar. It is a relatively expensive journey but offers more than any other train possibly could.
- Delhi-Jaisalmer Express: A one of a kind train journey, which gives travellers a chance to soak in a real desert safari experience. It may seem monotonous, but is not at all so; on the journey, one can find camels, xerophytic vegetation, sand dunes and villages with vibrant houses. This gives passengers an enthralling experience before they reach the land of the golden fort.
There are many more trains, which journey through picturesque places, and heritage trains, which give the novelty and experience what is like to travel in a steam-powered locomotive. To find out seat availability, online train ticket, train runtimes, one can log on to the IR website and other travel sites like Ixigo.com. Places like North India have a lot to offer, great scenery, fantastic flora and fauna, and a diverse cultural experience bar none. People should make it a priority to at least visit this place at least once in their lifetime.