Want to do an epic Indian train marathon with a touch of style? Then join the Great Indian Circular Railway Challenge. All it costs is £200 (US$320) plus airfare and whatever you want to spend for a night in Darjeeling.
Start: Mumbai Cent. – 6pm, 18th Feb 2011
Finish: Mumbai VT – 8pm, 5th Mar 2011
In 15 days flat, we’ll cover over 12,000 km of track, and a further 500 km of road. Most of the rail is in the comfort of AC2, but you get to do a fair bit of SL and even some AC3.
Why is it so cheap? Why so many people? What’s the plan? Read on…
Why So Cheap?
Well, you don’t stop moving for a start; just 2 nights in a motionless bed. In order to achieve that, we cheat at several points and get the road back to the common railhead. In a group size of mid teens this works out a lot cheaper than doing it yourself. Also we will be sharing rooms every time we get off a train in order to scrub down. Again, if you do that on your own, the choice is to spend a packet on brief stops in hotels or stink the train out.
Why So Many?
The group size is mid-teens (about 15) of which a third of who are female. There may be a few others, but at this stage, we’re only counting those who’ve paid for their IndRail pass. Some of the group have been doing India since the 70’s, some won’t have seen India till a few days before blast off. So we have a very diverse group of males, females, veterans and complete newbies. Unlike most group trips, in this case, we think the more the merrier. This isn’t a relaxing week on a beach, it’s an adventure race of truly epic proportions.
What’s the Plan?
- Tiffin box full of Mumbai specialities (about £8-£10 extra including the top of the range tiffin box, which you will want for the trip)
- 4 hours at the Dwarkanish temple at Dwarka including sunset (most western point)
- 12 hours in Amritsar, including the Grand Trunk Road border at Wagah, and the Golden temple at night
- 8 hours getting some mountain air in Udhampur (most northern point)
- 6 hours absorbing Delhi
- A whole day visiting Tipong colliery and other railway bits and pieces in deepest Assam. (most eastern point)
- A ferry across the Brahmaputra
- A ride on the Arunachal express
- A night in a posh hotel of your choice in Darjeeling (worth splashing out on)
- Steam train back to Ghum, (highest point)
- Tram ride and morning in Kolkata (other end of the grand trunk road)
- A couple of hours in Chennai, but that’s now all 4 of the great cities
- An afternoon in Rameswaram and the Rama’s temple (most coastal, it’s actually an island)
- Sunrise at Cape Kanyakumari (most southern point)
- An afternoon with coffee in Trivandrum
- A party back at Mumbai
Full details of the route here: http://gcirc.wordpress.com/route
Sign Me Up!
Firstly, this is the last call. If you’re interested, you must purchase your IndRail ticket now to ensure you have a seat on all of the requisite trains. For more information, contact Mark Lester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you’re ready to jump aboard (needs to be ASAP for reasons aforementioned), you can buy your IndRail pass by contacting Shankar Dandapani at email@example.com. Just mention “The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge”, and give your full name, passport number, nationality, and age. You’ll then need to ring Shankar with your credit card details and part with £128, plus some extra for postage if necessary. That gets you the rail ticket, and the all important berth reservations.
For the road sections, Mark is stumping up a deposit to nail the vehicles, as hawking them on the spot will be time consuming and possibly catastrophic.
Most importantly, DO NOT DELAY. Booking is underway, we’re just doing a last shout for anyone who might just happen to be in India at this time and fancy the adventure of a lifetime.
- For more information, Mark Lester, firstname.lastname@example.org
- To book your IndRail ticket, Shankar Dandapani, email@example.com
- Anything else, Todd & Lauren, firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured image by Heather Buckley from Flickr’s Creative Commons