Transportation in India: On the Indian train
The holiday season
When traveling over holiday seasons such as Diwali and Holi, general transportation in India can be very problematic and trains can get fully booked pretty quickly. As already mentioned there is the tourist quota but even during the holiday season these can be sold out. So if you want to take a major train journey during festival times make sure that you have a ticket in advance.
Food on Trains
On long distance journeys meals (biryani and thali) are often provided. Personnel from the catering department go around the carriages at the beginning of the journey to take orders. There is no buffet carriage on Indian trains but attendants walk through the carriages during the journey selling drinks and snacks. The snacks usually consist of the Indian staple – Chai (a milky tea with spices), soft drinks, crisps and biscuits. You can also pick up food when the train stops at stations but you never know how long it will stop for so it is always a good idea to bring snacks with you to eat throughout the journey.
Toilets are provided at the ends of each carriage, one western style toilet and one squat. There is usually very little difference between toilets in the AC carriages and those in sleeper class but what sets them apart is the condition that they are kept in throughout the journey. In sleeper class the toilets are usually very dirty by the time you arrive at your destination. Also bear in mind that the busiest times during long distance journeys are in the mornings when there are usually queues for the toilets and wash basins. Also don’t forget to bring toilet paper with you.
Train journeys can be a very relaxing time between sites and is often a good time to catch up on sleep. Some carriages can be noisier than others such as the sleeper class because windows are left open overnight and there are generally more people than in the AC carriages. It is definitely worthwhile to bring earplugs or listen to music to block out noise from other passengers. However if you are in an AC carriage the windows do not open and in 2AC and 1AC it is much quieter.
To prevent your baggage being stolen always store your luggage as close to your seat as possible. You will need to bring with you a padlock and chain to secure your luggage throughout the journey. Under the bottom seats there are luggage loops that you can secure your bags to. Any valuables you have on you it is recommended that you sleep with them next to you in a separate bag.
Checklist of what to bring with you on a long train journey
- Snacks and also change to buy drinks and snacks
- Hand wipes
- Wash bag on hand
- Toilet paper
- Earplugs for light sleepers
- A sense of humor
So happy train travelling… Also check out this funny clip about transportation in India
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