Traveling the Indian Railway Life
Unless you are staying on an Indian friend’s house, the most fun and true way of getting to know the day-to-day and customs of the Indians is to use the Indian rail network.

Traveling in India is certainly not one of the easiest but undoubtedly an essential journey in anyone’s life. It takes a lot of willpower, as well as being open to the many contingencies and dealing with the abundant Indian bureaucracy.

That said, namastê, welcoming to India, a wonderful, receptive, stunningly colorful country with its greatest legacy, the Indian people themselves. Unless you are staying on an Indian friend’s house, the most fun and true way of getting to know the day-to-day and customs of the Indians is to use the Indian rail network.

Indian ticket system is extremely confusing and bureaucratic, involving emails with copies of the passports and even the release of an Indian cell phone number so the ticket could be booked on the website, with a little patience and lots of insistence you will be able to travel. Yet, buying the ticket does not mean that you will have your accent on the train, since the list of travelers only applies a few hours before the trip. It is important that you confirm that your ticket was accepted the day before your trip or arrive at the station and wish yourself luck.

Here is an interesting story, the scam of Incredible India.

Incredible India was a massive incentive program for tourism in India, it was accepted worldwide and succeeded from several points of view, dramatically increasing tourism in India but at the same time triggering a network of small scams in Delhi tourism agencies, which make everything to sell you overpriced travel packages, from forging local epidemics to convince you that the tickets you have are false, or simply saying that because you are not Indian and you could not buy online, you will miss the train tomorrow and the salvation would be of course to buy new tickets through the agency or even plane tickets at tremendous farce.

The first two days in Delhi because every tuk tuk driver he used wanted to drop him out on a Incredible fake agency.

The journey began in Delhi, towards Varanasi, the sacred city for the Hindus, a journey of just over 790km that took more than 16 hours due to numerous delays and unforeseen, like two hours stopped in the middle of nowhere waiting for who knows exactly what reason.

In total he crossed over 3000 km by the Indian railways.

railways travelling

After Varanasi, the tourist returned to Agra, Jaipur, and followed to Rajasthan inward, returning later to Delhi. In that same period more than 660 million people used the system that takes approximately 8 billion passengers per year. It is one of the largest railway networks in the world and connects all of India, expanding to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

From the beginning the tourist realized that the Indians have no limits, which put him in some very unusual situations. Starting with the fact that he was looked at all the time, not for some kind of recrimination or prejudice, but out of curiosity, the Indian takes no effort to notice and to be noticed, that is no chance that you go unnoticed during your trip.

He even created an expression, “The incredible art of facing people,” in which they are real masters.

The Indian trains are huge and there are several traveling classes, from the hard seat to the first class cabins. The first is really hard but the second has nothing of the western first class, but there is possible to have a little privacy. Usually he traveled in the third class, which has cabins with six berths, two of which are retractable. Of course this means that, during the day there will be a lot of people sitting on your bed.

Leaving Varanasi towards Agra, he woke up in the middle of the night with a family invading the six-berth cabin in which he was, almost by a miracle, alone. His wife was in a side, most private cabin. They were clearly talking about him, but he pretend to be asleep and just kept watching. It seems that he had put his backpack in the wrong place or something. He woke up with the smell of Tchai and a nice gentleman offering him a little plastic cup, smiling and doing that typical Indian head gesture.

First prayer of the day

Another unusual situation, after changing a few times his berth because he was not happy with his, the train filled at the night while he slept and the next morning he woke up with a gentleman sitting on his bed, looking out and making his first prayer of the day. That was because right there on his berth, shines the first rays of morning sun. He wondered if that was his bed, but incredible as it may seem, he didn’t bother with the fact that he woke up and instantly took a camera from under his pillow and started to photograph him praying. After his prayer finished he just said thank you sir, got up and left.

What it can be said is that the short period he spent on the trains in India put him face to face with the ordinary Indian at his daily routine. He was, even for a short period of time, like part of their families. This experience made him understand things that He would not normally have the opportunity to learn. Some things have become obvious, such as the fact that Indians usually travel in groups, which has no better time for a Tchai than now, and other not so great like, time is just an invention, everything that can be, will be delayed. He was in the right place to try to understand a little more about Indian culture. It is certainly something that you should do at least once in your lifetime.

Curiosities about India and its train network:

It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world.

India is notable for its religious diversity, with Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Jainism among the nation’s major religions.The predominant religion, Hinduism, has been shaped by various historical schools of thought, including those of the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhakti movement, and by Buddhist philosophy.

The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hindu, which was the historical local appellation for the Indus River.

The spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery Railways were first introduced to India in the year 1853 from Mumbai to Thane (Great Indian Peninsula Railway)

The Allahabad-Jabalpur branch line of the East Indian Railway had been opened in June 1867. Brereton was responsible for linking this with the GIPR, resulting in a combined network of 6,400 km (4,000 mi). Hence it became possible to travel directly from Bombay to Calcutta. This route was officially opened on 7 March 1870 and it was part of the inspiration for French writer Jules Verne’s book Around the World in Eighty Days.

In 1951 the systems were nationalized and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) is a department of the Indian government under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Railways, in charge of maintaining the functioning of the system.

It is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km (71,000 mi) of track over a route of 67,312 km (41,826 mi) and 7,112 stations.