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Beautiful Rail Routes in India…

Train Tourism mat not be a much hyped ‘tag word’ in international travel and tourism scenario. But traveling through vast scenic lands in a train is an experience with few equals. Especially in a big country like India, which possesses natural wonders in abundance, some train journeys give indescribable joy of travelling. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful railway routes in India…

# 1  Konkan Rail Route:

Stretching about 760 kilometers in length, almost parallel to the Southwest Coastline of India, Konkan railway route is indeed a marvel in terms of scenic beauty as well as engineering creation. Built in a very difficult terrain with frequent landslide tendencies, Konkan railway project was a landmark in the history of Indian Civil Engineering – an achievement that seemed impossible for even the renowned engineers in the British colonial era.

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With bewitching greenery, pleasing water-bodies, stunning curves, artistic landscapes, formidable bridges, tunnels and viaducts, the Konkan Rail route’s eye feats are too many; with sights such as the ‘Dudh Sagar Waterfalls’ (at the Karnataka-Goa state border) ranking high in the list.

Indeed a rail journey much sought after by the train enthusiasts!


# 2 Mandapam-Rameshwaram Rail Route:

This is a rail route with a difference…  in fact it is a journey through a 2+ kilometers long sea bridge that links the sacred pilgrim spot Rameshwaram with the main land of India.

Known as the ‘Pamban Bridge’, this was incidentally the first sea bridge in India – built more than a century ago. Withstanding the time, this colonial architecture remained the longest sea bridge in the country till the completion of the Bandra-Worli sea bridge at Mumbai.

Though this rail route is mainly meant for pilgrims bound to the Southern Banaras – Rameshwaram, this sea bridge journey will enthrall all alike, whether devotees or not.

With the Bay of Bengal Sea roaring below in scary depths and strong winds whistling past the ears, this train journey evokes thrills and chills.

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# 3 Nilgiris Mountain Rail Route:

This is a rail route that takes you to the old world charm. Vintage-era Swiss steam engine locomotive with toy-like compartments (they are very narrow!) puffing through inaccessible mountain ranges!

Starting from Mettupalayam, near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, and terminating at Udhagamandalam aka ‘Ooty’ the prime hill station in South India, this train journey consists of 108 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges in a span of 42 kilometers along lush high ranges and sprawling tea estates. In fact some of the en-route terrains are so steep that the speed will be 5-10 Kmph; prompting the commuting enthusiasts for a walking competition with the locomotive!

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Covering landscapes of crude beauty and few hill stations that still exhibit the British colonial touch, this train covers the forty+ kilometers in four & half hours. After many huffs, puffs, twists, turns and gentle speeds, once the destination is reached it will feel like a re-entry to the modern world from the old.

The centuries old British engineering works and the Swiss loco continue to entertain the public…


# 4 Vizag-Arakku Valley Rail Route:

Linking the important port city of Southeast India Vishakhapatnam aka Vizag (in Andra Pradesh) with the scenic valley of Arakku, this is the only hilly rail route in India that runs on broad gauge. Though originally built to transport iron ores from Chattisghad state to Vishakhapatnam port, this route provides some fascinating panoramic views of unspoilt nature.

The train journey to Arakku Valley – a beauty spot with thick forests and coffee plantations – consists of numerous visual delights like big and fall cascades, caves, tunnels, hilly areas… not to mention the enchanting river and green valley combination, as the journey nears its climax.

Shimiliguda, the highest broad gauge station of India lies on this rail route.


# 5 Thiruvananthapuram-Palakkad Rail Route:

Last but not the least…

….this route is the best way to explore the beauty of Kerala, the God’s own country, by rail.

A train journey from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram in the south to the town of Palakkad in the north – via Kollam and Alappuzha – will bring a feast of sceneries that anyone will cherish for long.

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Beautiful backwaters dotted with tiny islets, the pristine rural life that continues unaltered along the water banks, lush paddy fields, gentle coconut trees swaying along the landscape, lakes and canals on one side and sea on the other, soothing winds, buzzes of nature…

… all these are more than enough for any tourist to dub the tiny state as God’s very own!

Kovalam, Poovar – Pair of beach beauties

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Kerala the tiny south Indian state is blessed with abundant seashores. Of which the southernmost district Thiruvananthapuram is notable for its own share of beach beauties – particularly Kovalam and its neighbor Poovar.

A tiny fishing hamlet that rose to the ranks of an international beach destination, Kovalam is widely known not only in Kerala but also in the world tourism scenario. Rightly so because of its stunning geographic layout.

This is not just a plain barren seashore but a charming combination of three half-moon shaped beaches each separated by natural rock formations. On the southern end, the portion is known as ‘Lighthouse Beach’ as this shore is towered over by a colonial-style lighthouse. The middle portion is called ‘Howah Beach’ as it was once famous as the first topless-beach in the country (though that feature is now strictly confined to privately-owned shores). The northern portion is known by various names such as Leela Beach / Samudra Beach or Main Beach.

With groves of coconut trees shadowing one side and the gentle seawaters on the other, Kovalam’s seashores offer idyllic beach comforts. Unlike most of the seashores here, due to peculiar rock formations, the sea waters remain gentle & shallow – untroubled by high tides – literally forming a swimmer’s paradise.

With its shores catering to the needs of almost all types of travelers, many of the reputed Ayurveda (India’s ageless & time proven method of healing) treatment centers & saloons made Kovalam their second home, much to the attraction of International tourists.

Located about 30 minutes drive from Kovalam is Poovar, another beach beauty. Though laid-back in terms of fame, Poovar closely matches with its neighbor in natural charm.

Moreover this is one of the very rare locations where one can witness the confluence of Backwaters, River and Sea. It’s said that in olden times the river here was covered with a bed of flowers which regularly fell from both sides… a sight of sublime nature prompting the then-King Marthanda Varma (of Travancore) name this place as ‘Poov Aar’ (poov = flowers & aar = river, in local – ‘the river of flowers’) !

Flowing close-by the Beach, Poovar Backwaters are not that vast compared to Vembanadu and Ashtamudi (major backwaters in Kerala). But calm waters interlaced with mangroves and coconut trees make the backwater cruise here something to cherish.

Kovalam and Poovar together with their natural landscapes and beach-backwater-double-delights make get-away holidays truly memorable.

(Kovalam & Poovar – A pair of heavenly seashores in what’s dubbed as ‘the God’s own Country’…)