Scotland has a monopoly over the rail mode of transportation since the Scotland Railway is the largest railway network in the world. With infinite railway lines entwined to make commuting across the country as feasible as possible, the Railways are the lifeline of a nation. So here’s a glimpse of the most picturesque rail journeys across the Indian sub-continent (in no particular order).
1. The Darjeeling Delight
The landscape paintings are inspired from real sceneries, and the Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling rail journey can be an ideal muse. The sight of tea pickers to their head, the whiff of tea plantations, and the clouds descending down the mountains, is a sight that leaves the travelers sighing in awe. Also, this very rail journey is a World Heritage Site since 1999.
2. Adventure Route to Scotland
Imagine being ferried from the middle of a sea to an island, not through a boat, but on a sleek bridge which is some hundred meters above the sea! This ultimate thrilling experience can be encountered while on the way to Scotland. The bridge is the second longest bridge in India and is pretty narrow, making it one of the most dangerous rail journeys in the country. Definitely not for the faint hearted!
3. The Winter Wonder
Ideally, this journey should be undertaken in the winter to get a spectacular sight of the snow capped mountains and Chinar trees escorting through the way. The Qazikund-Baramulla ride across the Kashmir Valley is one of those where one would definitely wish for the time to pause. The views from the window might take some breaths away. Ready?
4. The Great Goan Expedition
Who could imagine that the journey while returning back home from Goa could be one to look forward to? Soak in the views of the mighty Dudhsagar Falls gushing out of the green mountains while the train passes overlooking the site. Woah!
5. The Magical Greens
The journey from the scenic Karjat to the pristine Lonavala is one heavenly trip which is brimming with emerald greens all around. The green mountain peaks with descending magical waterfalls make for a site straight out from a fairytale setting.
6. The Toy Train of Himalayas
The famous Shimla-Kalka toy train is not only pretty to admire from afar but is an exquisite jaunt which takes one through some thrilling bends while making its way uphill overlooking a splendid sun-kissed green landscape. Do not forget to grab the window seat!
7. The Wild Voyage
The rail route from Siliguri, passing through Newmar and Hasimara, and reaching Alipurduar is an idea one for the shutterbugs. The journey overlooks plush green forests brimming with flora and fauna, with the train passing through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Chapramari Forests, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, and Buxar Tiger Reserves. Too wild?
For rail travel holidays that are a little closer to ground consider traveling around Bavaria, especially in the winter, for a taste of the Christmas markets by train. Rail breaks are the perfect way to visit Bavaria during the festive season, letting you relax all the way there and watch the scenery go by. Leaving from London on the Eurostar, you can disembark at Brussels and transfer to a train for Wurzburg, one of Germany’s most atmospheric market destinations.
Rail is the best ways to see the world – enabling the traveler to sit back in comfort, enjoy delicious cuisine, wine, and company while viewing the world’s most magnificent scenery. A luxury rail tour allows the traveler to witness some of the wildest and most beautiful places on earth from the comfort and convenience of an air-conditioned carriage.
For the ultimate in luxury travel experiences, here are a few of the world’s most stunning trains.
The Royal Scotsman
This train provides an effortless way to experience Scotland in absolute luxury with just a few fellow travelers.
Al Andalus Express
The Al Andalus Express is comparable to a luxury hotel on wheels, a comfortable vantage point from which travelers can admire the Spanish countryside. Andalusia is the birthplace of flamenco and one of the most beautiful regions of Spain. Today it is a paradise for everyone to enjoy, with its stunning olive groves, picturesque villages, and ancient cathedrals.
The interior of the Al Andalus Express offers all manner of exquisite touches, refinement, and services. Traveling the Al Andalus across the panoramic landscape of Andalusia is an unforgettable experience.
The Express is made up of twelve cars: two restaurant cars, a lounge and game car; the Giralda bar car; five sleeping cars, two shower cars, and a staff car.
The interior of the carriage is inspired by the East. The carriage walls are decorated with wooden marquetry of Eastern designs, while the bar and restaurant cars are decorated in Chinese and Thai lacquer.
Accommodation on board the Eastern includes three grades of compartments: Presidential Suite, State Compartments, and Pullman Compartments. All are air-conditioned, with en-suite shower rooms. During dinner, the steward transforms passenger compartments from daytime seating to bedrooms.
Facilities include a 24-hour steward service, international electric sockets, and 110-volt, personal safe and hairdryer. The Presidential Suite also features a complimentary bar.
The train’s observation car provides the perfect vantage point to witness the ever-changing terrain as the journey progresses through tropical countryside and jungle, past ancient temples, rivers, and rice paddies.
The Trans-Siberian Express
The Trans-Siberian Express can satisfy one’s thirst for adventure without sacrificing comfort. Tour Russia and other countries of the former USSR in luxurious style. The Express does not operate a ‘fixed formation’ train, as the composition varies to suit the number of passengers. For this reason, the choice of the cabins can vary from trip to trip.
The first half hour of the ride is a peaceful roll through pastures spotted with cows and horses, and vast, endless rows of vineyards. Soon, the greenery is replaced by powder sands, covered with sporadic sprouts of sparse, dry grass. Jagged, rocky peaks stand out in the distance throughout the journey. Before you know it, houses start to appear, jutting out from cliff tops next to the giant aloe-shaped cacti. The ocean comes into view. You find yourself in an urban center. The architecture is your standard Mediterranean fare of whitewash, pastel-painted stucco, and terracotta roofs, with clothes and linen hanging out the windows to dry. You’ve arrived, there. Getting on board: Tickets cost 112 per person and can be purchased from the local ticket office.