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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 wonderland called Wayanad…

The tiny south Indian state of Kerala is blessed with many wonderful locations. But this one will rank very high in the list of Kerala’s beauty-spots. That is Wayanad, a district located in north east Kerala.

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Nestled high in the majestic western ghat mountains, Wayanad is one of the handful locations in the world that still manage to retain its pristine nature in spite of the overwhelming modernization.

A land where ancient civilization existed much before the era of Christ, Wayanad is a wonderful combination of dense forests & wildlife, royal high ranges, lush plantations & paddy fields, ageless pilgrim centers,…. together with marks of prehistoric civilization. If Kerala is the God’s own country; then Wayanad is its Green Paradise.

Prominent ones amongst Wayanad’s innumerable lovely locations:


Ambalavayal Heritage Museum


Arguably the best Heritage Museum in Kerala. This Museum contains artifacts that date back to many centuries!

Banasurasagar


The habitat of one of the largest earth dams in the country. A nearby Sanctuary and a Park with ever-flowering trees add charm to this spot.

Begur Wildlife Sanctuary


Home to numerous species of wild animals, plants  and trees… particularly popular for viewing elephants, deers, birds and reptiles.

Boys Town


An establishment of the Wayanad Social Service Society and Jean Park (the Indo-Danish project for promoting herbal gardening). An abode of many invaluable plants.

Brahmagiri


Lying about 1600 meters above sea level, Brahmagiri constitute a vast area of exquisite wild land. It takes about 11 kilometers of trekking from Thirunelly to reach this spot.

Chembra Peak


The highest peak in Wayanad – A trekker’s dream location!

Edakkal Caves


One of the earliest centers of human habitat around the world. The rocky cave-walls are decorated by lots of interesting carvings, which represent human / animal figures, objects of human use, symbols, etc. These carvings speak of a highly civilized people of prehistoric age.

Kuruva Dweep (Island)


A tiny uninhabited Island of evergreen forest located on the tributaries of River Kabini. Overspread with rare species of birds, orchids and herbs, Kuruva Island is an ideal picnic plot.

Meenmutty Waterfalls


A waterfall located deep in the reserve forest. A trip to Meenmutty itself is an adventure (it requires a good trekking through some inhospitable grounds)!

Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary


The largest wildlife reserve in North Kerala… Also known as Wayanad Sanctuary, Muthanga is a place with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

Pakshipathalam


A Bird Sanctuary located around 7 kilometers north-east of Thirunelly Temple, accessible only by trekking! An adventurer’s den.

Pookote Lake


A natural fresh water lake brimmed with evergreen mountains… here one can enjoy the hypnotizing glamour of an unspoilt environment.

Soochipara Waterfalls


A brilliant waterfall, so-called due to the high force of its waters (Soochi means ‘needle’ in local).

Thirunelly Temple


A very ancient and sacred Temple set amidst the reserve forest. Thirunelly Temple is referred as the ‘Thekkan Kasi’ (Banaras of the South) in terms of religious significance. It is believed that bathing in the adjoining River ‘Papanasini’ will cleanse all the sins.

Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary


Another Sanctuary in the Wayanad belt with wide varieties of animals and plants.
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With many serene spots still unexplored, this wonderland of Wayanad is yet to be ‘fully discovered’.