The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge

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Dates 18 Feb '11 to 5 Mar '11

Flexible? No, not really

Est. Cost 300 - 400 GBP (GBP United Kingdom Pounds)

Type Travel Partners Wanted

Name The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge

Flat out circumnavigation of the Indian Railway network (GCIRC). Mumbai to Dwarka in the extreme west, Udhampur in the extreme north, Ledo in the east and Cape Kanniyakumari in the south. Also Ghum near Darjeeling as the highest point, and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu as the most coastal. 12,500 Km of rail in 2 weeks, with only 2 nights in a motionless bed, the ultimate Indian train journey.

Here is the itinerary, we spent quite a few months working it out with a bunch of Indian train experts. if you are thinking of coming, apart from deciding if you can handle 2 solid weeks on an Indian train (if you've never even spent one night on an Indian train give this some serious thought) you need to get your seats/berths booked well in advance. DO NOT just turn up in Mumbai with days to spare and expect to join in.

We have a number of the superior sex (as my wife likes to say) who insist they are coming, None of these are personal friends so I can't guarantee any of that, though the GT folks themselves are all fired up, one of who is female. Traveling alone on Indian trains can be especially taxing for girls. You get stared at an awful lot. Boys do too, just start taking photos at people who do this to you.

If you'd always wanted to do this but needed a good excuse and some allies, your number just came up.

Here's the sched'

Start Mumbai Central Station, Friday Evening, February 18th, 2011

Friday dep Mumbai 20:25 9005 Saurashtra Mail (961km)

Saturay arr Dwarka 15:07, taxi/coach to Porbander, dep Porbander 20:25 (or Jamnagar 23:15) 9216 Saurashtra Express (464km)

Sunday arr Ahmedabad 06:00, dep Ahmedabad 11:10, 9223 Ahmedabad-Jammu Tawi Express (1184km)

Monday arr Jalandhar 12:45, dep Jalandhar 15:10 1057 Amritsar Express arr Amritsar 16:30 (theres loads later if the ADI-JAT is late, alternatively Makhu 11:03 and taxi to Amritsar for 13:00) Golden Temple at night

Tuesday dep Amritsar 01:10 am, 9225 Bhatinda Jammu Tawi Express (206km) arr Jammu 07:00 . dep Jammu 11:25, 4033 Jammu Mail (54km) Arr Udhampur 11:40, Luncheon, dep Udhampur 19:05 2446 Uttar Sampark Kranti (630km)

Wednesday arr New Delhi 06:25, dep New Delhi 14:00 2424 New Delhi-Dibrugarh Town Rajdhani (2396km)

Thursday on Board

Friday arr New Tinsukia 03:35, dep New Tinsukia 08:40 905NFR Dibrugarh-Ledo Passenger (57km) arr Ledo 10:45, Tipong Colliery, chartered bus to Dibrugarh

Saturday taxi to Bogibeel, the ferry stuff, bus/4×4 to Dhemaji, dep Dhemaji 18:38 5814 Arunachal Express (366km)

Sunday arr Rangiya 05:05, dep Rangiya 07:27 2510 Guwahati-Bangalore City Express (361km) arr New Jalpaiguri 14:05 (several later trains if we are late), taxi to Darjeeling

Monday dep Darjeeling 09:15 2D Darjeeling-New Jalpairguri Narrow Gauge (88km) arr New Jalpaiguri 16:50, dep New Jalpaiguri 20:00 2344 Darjeeling Mail (602km)

Tuesday Arrive Sealdah 06:00, tram and ferry to Howrah, dep Howrah 14:50 2841 Coromandal Express (1662km)

Wednesday arr Chennai Central 17:15, dep Chennai Egmore 19:55 6101 Rameswaram Express (600km)

Thursday arr Rameswaram 08:35 dep Rameswaram 17:30 2789 Rameswaram Cape Express (407km)

Friday Arr Kanniyakumari 04:05, Dep Kanniyakumari 10:30 6525 Bangalore Express (67km) arr Trivandrum 12:45 , Coffee Break dep Trivandrum 19:15 2431 Rajdhani Express (1752km)

Saturday arr Panvel 18:05, metro to Mumbai CST (69km).

End Mumbai “VT” Station, Saturday Evening, March 5th, 2011

The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge

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Trooper Talk

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Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester The "yellow alert" on the ticketing quotas is now canceled. Our man has come back with the numbers and as long as we dont balloon past 30 people we are all going to get a bed. Actually, the mystical Arunachal Express only has 30 SL berths available anyway, so if we hit 30 for that we're going to have to draw lots. So I'm back to working out the logistics. In particular our 3 road sections, at dwarka-porbandar, amritsar, and the assam ledo-dhemaji section. I've got a very reasonable quote of Rs 2,000 per Qualis per day in Amritsar, and we've got some serious on the ground contacts at the other two.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Great to hear Mark. It will be amazing if 30 people end up traveling. Can't wait. I'll try to get Red Bubble done in the next day or so. Rebuilt the computer and need to find a free application to export the image file in the right format. Will keep you updated. Also, the trip's received good coverage from Stumble Upon: more than 100 shares so far (see top of page). Wish we could help more, but we're swamped right now.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester No worries. The super cheap place I found in UK wont play at keeping stock, so it;s only cheap if you want to buy at least 10. So I'm going to have to look about again now. I had an old work mate who is in Mumbai say he'd got a friend who does t-shirts in India but he never got back. But no rush. red bubble certainly look like the best option for US/Oz. Get yourself GIMP for image handling, it's fab. Also, I found a great eatery in Amritsar http://www.punjabiportal.com/articles/kesar-dhaba-amritsar-punjabi-food which is exactly the kind of place I was looking for.
4 years ago
hanish
hanish hey mark i may suggest while your railway trip in India you can also go out to kalka shimla train passes through 103 tunnels and view is spectacular and even toy train in dargeeling both of them are declared as a world heritage by UNESCO
3 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hi Hanish, yes I know it is, take a close look at the image I'm using for my avatar in here, recognize the carriage ?. Shimla station, and the whole ride down to Kalka, is one of the finest railways on the planet. But there's only so much you can do in 2 weeks.
3 years ago
Swaroop
Swaroop Mark, I'm planning my own version of the GCIRC in August. Can you please provide a few details about the leg from Dwarka to Porbandar by road? Was it easy to get a taxi? Are the roads good? Was Porbandar worth the visit?
3 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester latest planning news is here http://gcirc.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/indian-railways-quota-system/
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Get in touch with Mark via the Facebook page to book your tickets. We've already booked our and look forward to seeing all the Globetroopers in Delhi.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi hi mark/todd, have been to ladakh region and also assam. when is the last date to confirm. other than departure and arrival stations how many other places will we get to c. I hope it won't b a trip spent only travelling on a train.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi u need to have sufficient time wen u r traveling on road. traffic jams r very common in india.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Unfortunately, it is essentially a trip traveling on a train. We do get to do a few things, but all very hurriedly. But why not join us for a few days, where are you based ?. if you are Delhi you could perhaps pick us up there and stick with us till after Darjeeling.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi feb 8-16 i ll be in assam.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi i m in mumbai. my plan is to be in a plave near kaziranga national park from feb 8-16 2011.but ll meet u somewhere either mumbai or on the way anywhere.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi the in between gaps that u have will not help you much with regards to sight seeing
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester there isnt any sight seeing. well that's not true, you get this The Temple at Dwarka, though it will be a quick one Wagah border Golden Temple You could take a drive up the road at Udhampur Connught Place! (if you want to do delhi come back later) Tipong Colliery and Digboi refinery Crossing the Brahmaputra Darjeeling (ok, mostly at night) Breakfast in Calcutta, and ferry over to Howrah (come on, great view of the bridge)! The temple at Rameswaram Day break at the cape Trivandrum Coffee House As much Mumbai as you want
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi well mark......................ll i wud b more interested in meeting all of u.............so lets c if can join mid-way somewhere.ll let u know.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester seriously abhi, we're getting real short of Indians actually doing part of this. we want to meet you too!. we wil be in AC for most of the time, but actually we'd al like, from time to time, to spend time in the breezy, if chaotic, world of SL. so see if you can at least do say the dbrt rajdhani (actually thats ACIII min anyway) or the north west circuit maybe. met us at amritsar or better still ahmedabad. 1 day getting to adi, 1 day train meeting 30 odd tourists, 1 day amritsar inc wagah, 1 day udhampur vegging out in the afternoon.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi ll definitely try out.
4 years ago
Todd

Todd IMPORTANT UPDATE: It's time to book the train tickets for the Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge. As Mark mentioned below, if you're joining us for the GCIRC, please visit the official Facebook page for information on buying your tickets.

The Facebook Page is here: http://bit.ly/a4x2aG

If you are not on Facebook, please leave a comment here and we'll forward the ticket details.

As most of you know, there were between 30 and 50 people interested in joining the trip. We expected the numbers to drop once it came time to book, but Mark said he already has 20 confirmations.

Personally, I think this is a very rare opportunity. Apart from the challenge (and excitement) of circumnavigating India by train, you'll also get to raise awareness for a global issue and spend quality time with other inspired travellers. Plus, unlike most epic adventures, this trip is as cheap as chips. Head over to the Facebook page to see the price of the tickets.

The Globetrooper team are on-board, plus a small group who've found the trip through this site. There's also a reasonable female contingent, so if you were worried about too many guys, never fear. Also, there are lots of solo travellers, so it's a great trip to meet others.

If you have any other questions, just ask Mark (who's on Globetrooper too) or head over to the Facebook page and leave a message.

All the best, happy travels, see you in India! :)

4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hello Itchy. I just got a message that you are a "confirmed". Do you know how to get your tickets sorted out ?. Please join the fb group or just mail me at mc_lester@yahoo.co.uk if you need help with this.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester We now have t-shirts available. so if you arent or cant come, but still want a classy t-shirt for wherever you are going instead, look no further http://gcirc.wordpress.com/t-shirt/
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren For some of the women out there who haven't yet experienced India, I found a great resource with lots of good tips: http://www.journeywoman.com/girltalk/india/indeindia.html
4 years ago
Msi
Msi Hi, I think I might be interested in joining. By the looks of the itenerary/outline there's no real getting off and exploring of the different regions, right? Also, by when and how do you book the train tickets? I traveled throughout China on trains before so am cool w/ riding on a train for long periods of time and went briefly to Rajastan on a GAP tour, so I have an idea as to the conditions of the trains in India. This sounds like a really awesome trip. Thanks!
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Great to hear MSI. There are a lot of interconnecting railways, so there will be lots of hopping on and off. Plus Mark has previously talked about "wash-stops" in motels along the way. Lauren and I plan to stay for a little while afterwards too. No concrete plans yet, but we'd be crazy not to stay longer. That said, Mark_Lester is the go-to-guy for more info. You can visit his blog dedicated to the trip and the very long forum discussion over at IndiaMike.com (the exact link is on Mark's blog).
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Ahoy MSI. Yes, you get the picture.
I am currently working on sourcing deliveries of good stuff for the tiffin boxes so we can concentrate on washing when ever we are off the train. Most of our trains have food, but it's usually iffy at best, so I am going to make every effort to get the food sorted.
Two thirds of the trip can actually be done in first class, which apparently have showers!, but most of us will be in AC2, which is quite nice but no shower. Some of my more delicate mates will be doing it in first though, if they actually turn up that is.
Roughly half the party will be natives, which will aid the mission on several levels.
I'll be organising for a tiffin box salesman to turn up wherever it is we convene in Mumbai so you can get yours. it wil only cost a few bucks, I will be getting two!.

4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester oops. can you delete one of those tood :).
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester And regarding booking the trains. We have a great guy here in London(Wembley) who can sort this all out for you, dont worry about that side of things. Of course if we get hit with some enormous delay then it will all go tits up as we wont get a whole gang of us on the next train. But I have been monitoring all our trains for the last 6 months. There is a web site that publishes the arrival times and I am a programmer so I wrote something to catch all those so I can see how reliable everything is. Things aren't anywhere near as bad as everyone,including most Indians, will have you believe, and we have very ample gaps between trains. But shit does happen.
4 years ago
Msi
Msi I think the overnight train I took in India was AC2, so pretty comparable to trains in China. Ok so I think I'm a bit dense - but where can I find your blog? Want to figure out train tix etc. since I know those have to be bought way in advance.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester blog is here http://gcirc.wordpress.com we will be using these guys to book stuff http://www.indiarail.co.uk/ make your mind up time will be end of september
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren Hey Mark, sorry just had to look up what a tiffin box is :) but now I get the pic. Can you tell me how it works? We buy them first in Mumbai before the trip then at each stop we clean them and get them re-filled?
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester yeah thats the plan. two may be overkill but they are cheap, useful, and a great momento.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Hi All. Mark's doing a roll call to get firmer numbers. If you're joining this trip, please confirm your attendance here and join the GCIRC Facebook event and confirm there too: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956
4 years ago
Jools Stone
Jools Stone Wow, a lot of info here to digest! I'm pretty much sold on it now I think.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Well, here's a thread on IndiaMike which is 1,000 posts long. It's largely nonsense about me monitoring the trains. There's a site that tells you when stuff turned up, so I wrote a program to monitor it. Turns out stuff isnt quite as chaotic as everyone thinks. But sure, it's no Switzerland. That thread has become a bit of a monologue though, with the odd heckler. All you need to know is what's on the route page, and to contact shankar. if you are Indian it's another story for the bookings..
4 years ago
Usha
Usha I probably have checked this site so many times just this week alone. I was wondering, besides travelling on the train, will we get off to at least explore the surrounding areas? Guess we will right? During the waiting time for the next train yeah? I'm an undergrad from Shanghai, China. Originally from Singapore. Ethnically Indian. I can be of some language help. However, its annoying I can't decide immediately cos I need to see when my winter break for year 2011 starts. Though there is a 60% chance I might just join in. Sounds fun! Great job to all who came up with this venture. :)
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hy Usha. We have some pf the Singapore Indian gang on board already. We've Ketki who's family are from Bombay. We don't get to see a heck of a lot, but we do have am afternoon's sight seeing in Amritsar where you get to do the border closure and of course the temple. And we have the temples at Dwarka and Rameswaram too. But you'll certainly have done Indian trains when you've finished. You could join us just for a section if you wanted to see somewhere properly.
4 years ago
Usha
Usha Nah. I kinda wanna do the whole ride. Thanks anyway Mark. When is the closing date? I can't seem to spot it? :s
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester booby gravy. the route is here http://gcirc.wordpress.com/route/ we've a facebook event here http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956&index=1 We've got over 10 women listed now. Even if half of them drop out, which I don't think they are going to now, we've certainly got a sizable girl gang which will be handy for obvious reasons at the wash stops etc. You've got till about start of Nov to make your mind up. Welcome aboard! (vac timetable permitting)
4 years ago
satishdina7
satishdina7 Hi Guys, I am an Indian currently living in US..I will be in India next year from Jan to Mar..I am from Chennai..I would like to join with you guys for this trip ..Even If your dates are flexible I can take you guys around lot of interesting places in the state of Tamil Nadu..
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Hi Satish. You're more than welcome to join. There are 30 possibly confirmed travelers, maybe even up to 50, but the more the merrier. The start date is relatively fixed in order to properly time the different legs of the journey. Also look at the blog page for the trip (http://gcirc.wordpress.com), our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/globetrooper), and the GCIRC facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/globetrooper#!/group.php?gid=372971199730&ref=ts) for more info.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Namasteji Satish, and happy independence day!.
It's not a normal trip, we'll only be in TN for about 36 hours flat. But we really do want people who cant do the whole lot to jump on board for a short section and join the party. Come to Rameswaram with us and down to Cape/Trivandrum. We've got several,. possibly a lot more than several, who will jump on board the coro with us down to Chennai and do the circuit round to Mumbai. I'm hpping to get more "Indo-Anglians" on the case (brits of Indian origin so as not to confuse with Indians with english blood) We've got a few already but i'd like some more. The t-shirt has already been quite successful in this. But we also want as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible, especially Indians.
So start making space in your plans, we hit Chennai 3rd march roudn about 5:15 pm, Be there!!

4 years ago
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The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge

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Troopers

Created by

Mark_Lester Mark_Lester
United Kingdom
 

Troopers Following

Todd ulrike comehikewithmike Lauren backpackingoz LaraM deepro Msi sixside sashank Mulligan sdphoto Kate Durga Prasad gotta_b_trippin Anannya ramsesr13 satishdina7 Usha Mohamedally xistinchaos itchyfeet Jodi Traveler2011 smileabhi Uma Tr hanish Ann Social Outcast twoeightnine Keith Mander Haruna marta nicecupoftea Swaroop Anirudh

Countries

Greater Asia

Highlights

  • VT
  • Panvel
  • Trivandrum
  • Cape Kanniyakumari
  • Rameswaram
  • Chennai Egmore
  • Chennai Central
  • Howrah
  • Sealdah
  • New Jalpaiguri
  • Darjeeling (Ghum)
  • Rangiya
  • Dhemaji
  • Dibrugarh
  • Tipong Colliery
  • New Delhi
  • Udhampur
  • Amritsar
  • Ahmedabad
  • Porbander
  • Dwarka
  • Mumbai Central

Activities

  • Railway Touring