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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!

Switzerland in India?

Dalhousie

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One country nestled within another country? That too, countries in Europe and Asia bearing sharp contrasts? It may seem just impossible… for Switzerland is known worldwide for its snow-capped mountains, panoramic valleys and refreshening old world charm, whereas India is generally considered as a big and hot country with varied landscapes. But after seeing a hill station called ‘Dalhousie’, in the North Indian state Himachal Pradesh, one will actually believe the so called phenomenon of one country in another; that is Switzerland is right here in India itself!

Dalhousie

Dalhousie

Established in the mid-19th century as a summer treat by the erstwhile British Government and named after the then-viceroy of India Lord Dalhousie, this is a quiet secluded hill station compared to its famous counterparts in Himachal like Shimla and Kullu-Manali.

Dalhousie

Dalhousie

Located on five hills, at an altitude of 6000 to 9000 feet above sea level, on the western edge of Himalayan mountain range Dhauladhar, Dalhousie hill station is blessed with panoramic views of snow coated mountain peaks, beautiful valleys & meadows, natural trekking trails, colonial architectural buildings exhibiting old-world charm, … amply justifying its remarkable resemblance to the famous European destination!

Dalhousie

Of the many beauty spots in Dalhousie, few outstanding ones are ‘Upper Bakrota’ – highest spot in Dalhousie beautified with estates, trekking routes and old styled houses, ‘Khajjiar’ – a breathtakingly beautiful greenish valley with a spring in between (making the visitors feel that they are really in Switzerland), ‘Ganji Pahadi Walk’ – a thrilling walkway leading to the summit of a bare hill known as Ganji Pahadi (which is local for Bald Hill), and ‘Kala Tope’ – an ideal location for picnickers and trekkers; especially the long forested walkway from Lakkadmandi to Kala Tope is a well worth try.

Dalhousie

Other notable attraction near Dalhousie is ‘Chamba’ – a timeworn hilly town which was the seat of an ancient Hindu kingdom and a cradle of Hindu culture, temples, arts & handicrafts. With its origins tracing back to 6th century AD, the 1500+ year old royal heritage still thrives!

Chamba Town near Dalhousie

Dalhousie doesn’t disappoint wildlife enthusiasts too. ‘Kalatop Sanctuary’, a major wildlife reserve located close to Dalhousie, is rich in typical Himalayan forests as well as consist some finest trekking routes to explore the wilderness in full.

Kalatop Sancturay, Dalhousie

Kalatop Wildlife Reserve near Dalhousie

Located well away from the city chaos, hectic modern life and the buzzing urbanization, Dalhousie is for those who long to unwind themselves in the unexplored charm of Mother Nature. Not for the fast paced party-addicts but for those who love solitude / sceneries / sky-views, honeymooners seeking the sublime nature, people who prefers picnicking in nature’s lap, adventurers who seek exciting trekking/walking terrains … India’s Switzerland has it all!

Sunset @ Dalhousie

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