I knew the Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge would be adventurous since it covers such a vast distance in such a short period of time. But I also expected us to waste away on a multitude of 10 hour+ and 20 hour+ train trips.
You see, on the face of it, train travel seems downright boring. You get an allocated seat on a speeding bullet with little time to really appreciate a new place. But boy was I wrong.
A 7-hour train ride gives you enough time to get settled and something to eat, but after that you get ants in your pants and are ready to jump if the train doesn’t hurry up and let you off. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all been driven to the precipice of insanity. So what’s so different about the GCIRC?
The Beauty of the GCIRC
Funnily enough, the longer the train trip, the better. Long trips really let you settle in and get some work done: whether it’s reading a book, working on a project, or just thinking about your next steps in travel, business, life, whatever.
The GCIRC is a real mix of adventure, exploration, racing AND reflection. Just as we become too tired to stand, we hop onto another train for a 24-hour journey. Perfect timing to relax, write a blog, wash up, re-energize, and get ready for the next big adventure. Like the Butterfly River expedition we wrote about last year, the GCIRC is a great mix of travel themes that keeps you interested and wanting more.
Before I forget, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the goal of the GCIRC yet. Apart from raising money for the Railway Children, exploring India and having a good time, there’s actually a point to all of this madness:
To travel to the most Western, Northern, Eastern and Southern railway stations around India, which essentially gives the trip its ‘circular’ name.
GCIRC – Day 2
Back to Day 1. The Saurashtra Mail, from the day before, got us into Dwarka at about 4pm. We had a mini-bus waiting for our 18-strong crew, and headed into town for a wash-up and stroll amongst the markets and temples. There was an intense ceremonial street parade with big drums, dancing, singing, the lot. It was great fun to walk amongst the locals, who regularly gave wide smiles, said hello, asked our names, and volunteered for pictures.
After Dwarka, we got back on the bus and headed back to Jamnagar to catch our next train. This is actually a backtracking of the trip, since Dwarka was our most Western point and we need to head back to Ahmedabad to head North.
- Train: Saurashtra Express
- Depart: Jamnagar @ 23:23 on 19-Feb-11
- Destination: Ahmedabad @ 07:10 on 20-Feb-11 (estimated)
- Distance: 332 km, over 7 hours
After a light dinner in Jamnagar, we headed to the station to catch our next train. Steve, our resident Indiaphile, exclaimed that we’d been upgrade to 1st class. But just before we jumped for joy, he said, ‘It’s not 1AC but 1st class, which is a step above Sleeper Class, but under 3AC’. ‘Oh, well that’s pretty good’, I conceded, ‘because the air conditioning is too cold and 1st class means we have lockable berths.’ Once again, I was very wrong.
Despite Steve’s previous warning, I believed that no AC would be heaven because it was a little too cold and dried our throats out. In actual fact, we spent the next 8 hours (it was an hour late) wearing every item of clothing we carried and shivering like jackhammers. The potential of a quiet night’s sleep after a very long day were officially dashed.
Lesson learned: AC can be good, especially when it keeps the temp above the low temps outside. And, socks are good too, especially when they take little room, but provide much needed warmth on cold trains.
That said, it’s all part of the experience, and best that we learned it on a relatively short trip.
WooHoo! Another Long Trip
After departing the cold train from Jamnagar, we slurped down cup-after-cup of chai, washed up a little, and retired to the Reserved Lounge of Ahmedabad station (sounds much more luxurious than it is). We’re waiting here for a few hours to catch the next train to Amritsar. In fact, we’re now getting off at Makhu an getting a bus to Amritsar to get there quicker for sight seeing around the Golden Temple. This will be a 24-hour trip as follows:
- Train: Ahmedabad-Jammu Express
- Depart: Ahmedabad @ 11:10 on 20-Feb-11
- Destination: Makhu @ 11:03 on 21-Feb-11 (estimated)
- Distance: 1184 km, over 24 hours
Looking forward to it!
The Globetrooper Team, signing out for now from the GCIRC