Indian Railways cover more than 68,000 km with tracks. The modern engineering has made it possible to cover even the most remote and dangerous places together, with no regard to the geographic setting. This has led to many aesthetically beautiful train routes in India.
Here are 15 such stunning train routes that you ought to experience at least once during your lifetime.
1. Jammu Baramulla Line (Kashmir Valley Railway)
This is one of the largest and most complex mountain rail routes of the country. The train route covers the Kashmir Valley, making it one of the top scenic routes of the land. The train passes through more than 100 bridges and 20 tunnels, covering raw nature of perennial ranges. This is the tallest train route in the country covering regions of extreme cold, meadows, earthquake zones, rugged terrains and much more.
2. Mettupalayam – Ooty Route (Nilgiri Mountain Railway)
Toy trains are some of the most scenic train routes of the land. One such toy train is the Nilgiri Mountain Railways. This train route covers the signature elements of the Nilgiri biosphere including rolling hills, tea plantation, ravines, rocky landscape, forest regions, and much more. The train passes through many tunnels, bridges, and sharp curves. The train moves at a very slow pace, giving the passengers time to adapt to the altitude and also enjoy the perfect scenery. This is one of the romantic activities to enjoy during Ooty visit.
3. Mandapam – Rameshwaram Route (Pamban Bridge Route)
The Pamban bridge route takes your train journey over the ocean. This bridge is more than 100 years old. This train route started in the early 20th century and it is the country's first sea bridge train route. This bridge is just 12.5 m above the water level. Thus, during high tide season, you can experience splashes of water on your face, if you peep out of the window. This is one of the most sought adventure train routes in India too.
4. Kalka – Shimla Toy Train (Himalayan Mountain Train)
This route is more than 100 years old offering a pristine route covering misty mountain backgrounds, lush green meadows, plantations, pine forests, and much more. This train route is the most opted transportation to reach Shimla and a romantic activity too. Recently, a glass top train is operated between the two destinations to provide a more panoramic view of the scenic route. The route covers more than 860 bridges, 107 tunnels and countless curves along the landscape of Himalayas.
5. Ratnagiri – Mangalore Route (Konkan Railway)
The Konkan railway route is one of the most celebrated scenic routes in the country. The route covers rivers, bridges, hills, fields, and much more with an almost never-ending mountain background. This is the route that bombards with numerous natural beauties with much more diversity than any other route. The best part of all is the serene ambience provided by the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges.
6. Jaipur – Jaisalmer Route (The Desert Express)
It is not just a route along the Thar Desert under the scorching sun. The train route gives a panoramic view of the untouched barren desert region of Thar. This includes pristine sand dunes, tribal villages, desert wildlife, and much more. The train covers unique landscapes of the state along with important destination, Jodhpur along the way. You can spot blackbucks running around as your train runs through remote villages with backdrops of desert forts, markets, and more. Of course, you will spot numerous camels along the way.
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7. Ernakulam – Trivandrum Route (Coastal Kerala Route)
The nature of Kerala needs no introduction. The land is famous among tourists for its beautiful nature provided by the Western Ghats. The Ernakulam – Trivandrum train route covers exotic natural beauties like coconut grooves, dense forested regions, coastal areas, paddy fields, water channels, and much more. The train route also covers the iconic backwaters along with the Arabian Sea's glittering coastline. If you love to enjoy the natural beauty of Kerala, this route is the best choice.
8. New Jalpaiguri - Darjeeling (Darjeeling Himalayan Toy Train)
You will find a lot of toy trains and mountain routes in this list. The Darjeeling toy train is one of the five mountain routes of India with world heritage recognition. Just like any other toy train route, this route covers mountain backdrops, hill villages, valleys and much more. As the altitude increases, the lush and serenity of the route increases exponentially allowing you to enjoy a charming vacation.
9. Guwahati – Silchar Route (Assam Railway Route)
Assam has a vintage green beauty that is lacking from most of the hill stations you can spot in India. This train route covers numerous tea gardens, valleys leading to rivers, forest regions, and others. The train also covers many important tourist destinations allowing tourists to enjoy a panoramic sightseeing throughout the route. Top destinations covered in the route are Valley of Haflong, River Jatinga, Barak Valley, Agartala, and others. The interesting feature of this route is that the train travels closer to these attractions. So, you get to witness them closer rather than a backdrop.
10. Visakhapatnam – Araku Valley (Araku Valley Railway)
This is one of the oldest toy train routes of the country, which was first laid for transporting raw materials. Today, it is one of the important tourist attractions. The train route connects one of the most commercialized lively cities, Visakhapatnam (Vizhag) to the most scenic hill station of Andhra, Araku Valley. This train route covers more than 110 km and most of it is pristine mountain route. The route covers coffee plantations, valleys, forested regions, and much more along the Eastern Ghats. There aren't numerous train routes covering the beauty of Eastern Ghats in India.
11. Koraput – Rayagada Route (Orissa Tribal Railway Route)
This is another Eastern Ghats route covering 173 km and most of it will cover dense forest regions, terrace farming regions, waterfalls, valleys, meadows, and more. The train travels closer to numerous green cliffs as it curves through horse-shoe turns. The best part of this route is the exposure to the tribal lifestyle. The train route runs closer to many tribal villages and heritage beauties. If you wish to experience the unexplored regions of Orrisa, this is the right option.
12. Siliguri - Alipurduar (Dooars Express Route)
This is a journey of amazing views and charming ambience thanks to the ever-flowing Sankosh River and Teesta River, along the backdrop of Eastern Himalayan region. The route covers interestingly a large number of different types of forest regions, Mahananda wildlife sanctuary, Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary, Buxa Tiger Reserve, and others. The best part is that the train route covers many streams flowing through these wildlife-rich regions. If you visit during peak summer, the chances of spotting animals near the streams are higher. Also, during summer, the region will be lush with wild flowers and numerous birds.
13. Neral - Matheran (Neral Matheran Toy Train)
This is a lesser known toy train due to the fact that it covers just 20 km of mountain beauty. The train passes through dense forests, hills, mountains, valleys, and much more. If you are looking for a comfortable option, you can find a deluxe coach in the train with many facilities and amenities. However, do not expect luxury train level of amenities. NeralMatheran toy train is famous for its fascinating beauty, especially during early monsoon season.
14. Vasco Da Gama - Londa (Goa Scenic Route)
This train route is quite unique than the rest as it covers numerous waterfalls on its route. The train starts from Goa and reaches at Karnataka (also vice versa) and it covers many interesting natural beauties like perennial mountain streams, valleys, forest regions, remote Goan valley villages, and much more. The best time to take this route is during monsoon, as all the streams and waterfalls will be lush with water, and the breeze will be cool.
15. Mumbai - Goa line (Arabian Sea Route)
This train route covers Arabian Sea on one side and Sahyadri Hills on the other. This coastal area – hill route gives a diverse look to the route. The train travels from Mumbai to Goa covering more than 2000 bridges, 92 tunnels, coastline, remote villages, paddy fields, water sources, and much more. The route will be dew-drenched and misty, especially in the mornings. This route is also a famous romantic train journey to enjoy in the Western Ghats region.
These routes will be at prime beauty at specific seasons. The Indian climate is quite diverse and it is important to learn about the optimal time to visit each destination before you plan your vacation. If you wish to enjoy India from the lens of a kaleidoscope, the train journeys are the best way to peek into the culture and nature.