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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!

A drive to Munnar…

One cannot simply call it ‘Munnar’; because Kerala’s most beautiful and well-known hill station is always spelt with surnames such as, Magnificent, Mesmerizing, Marvelous …. as the visual treats offered by this abode and its neighboring beauties are often beyond words.

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A drive to Munnar itself is a refreshing experience. As it is difficult to describe beauty with so many synonyms the best way is to take a pictorial ride like this…

Road to Munnar winding thro’ the lush high ranges

The first en route treat – Cheeyappara Waterfalls

Further drive brings you to another delightful cascade – Valara Waterfalls

After riding thro’ some exciting hair pin bends in the mountains, as Munnar becomes near you will sight Pallivasal – a pristine location, sight of Kerala’s first Hydro Electric Power Project.

Between Pallivasal and Munnar there lays one more eye-catching cascade – Attukal Waterfalls

Then comes the prime destination – Munnar (‘munnu aar’ means ‘three streams’ in local language, named so due to confluence of three mountain streams – Muthirappuzha, Chandavurai and Kundaly).

One of Munnar’s famous assets – the Tea Plantations

Plantations played a major role in the widespread fame of Munnar. This town houses a unique Museum dedicated to ‘Tea’

Tea Museum – showcases interesting facts, figures and artifacts about the growth and development of tea plantations in Munnar. Here curious ones can learn the techniques about how tea is produced and refined.

As stated earlier, Munnar’s neighboring beauty-spots are quite large in numbers. There are 3 most popular routes from the town which takes to all these spots.

1   Munnar – Rajamalai (Eravikulam National Park)
2   Munnar – Mattupetty – Eco Point – Kundala
3   Munnar – Devikulam – Lockhart gap


First Route

This route brings to Eravikulam National Park alias Rajamalai

Rajamalai – a National Park with many specialties… Apart from great trekking trails plus flora & fauna, this is also home to several highly endangered species in the world, namely Atlas moth (one among world’s biggest moths), Nilgiri Tahr (rare mountain goat) etc. Moreover, this is the site of Anamudi – the highest peak in South India.

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Second Route

First comes Mattupetty, a quiet village best known for its ‘Cattle Farm’ (the Indo Swiss mega project, only one of its kind in Asia). For security reasons this project is not open for public now.

Mattupetty has a splendid dam with boating facilities in its reservoir area

After Mattupetty, comes the Echo Point – as the name implies, here you will ‘hear’ the reverberations of your voice!

Next stop is Kundala – another pristine location with an angelic dam site


Third Route

On this route the first halt is the sensuous little town of Devikulam… abode of lovely lawns and plantations

Then comes the Lockhart Gap where anyone will get rejuvenated with the fresh mountain air, mist-coated hills and enchanting views

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Well, the onlookers certify this as the God’s own hill station without doubt !