Train Journeys – Kolkata to Varanasi

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There are dozens upon dozens of epic rail journeys in India. I brought you the one from Mumbai to Goa a while ago now. That one, however, I did in 2AC class, just about the best class you can take on Indian Railways. For this overnight journey on the rails, however, I stuck to my usual, vastly cheaper 2nd class sleeper.

The seats are beds, and they are lined with vinyl so they are not the most comfortable to sleep on, but I’ve had a mixture of experiences in second class sleeper on Indian Railways they have ranged from awesome to a nightmare. This particular trip would be pretty awesome.

A bridge in Kolkata.

A bridge in Kolkata.

So in each sort of ‘cabin’ in your carriage you’ll see two seats facing each other, they are not really segregated from the rest of the carriage it’s quite open. People cook and spread out during the day time in the carriages, it’s amazing to see.

The seats sit three across. The

Woke up to scenes like this.

Woke up to scenes like this.

backs of the seats fold upwards to form a bed, and then there’s another above them that swings down so in each section there are six beds. I scored the top one which isn’t as bad as it might sound because if people wake up before you the very top doesn’t have to do anything whereas the next to need to move to let people sit up and prepare their breakfast.

 

Security can be an issue in regards to belongings on Indian trains, so I took my backpack and day pack with me, the former at my feet and the latter as my pillow. Not immensely comfortable but I slept a bit and it cooled down at night so that helped.

Some journeys can be stifling in second class with fans that only occasionally work not helping much, but this journey was fine. The sun came up the next day and instead of the city and its suburbs that I had last seen as the light disappeared, I was now crossing rivers and there were fields and farms. It was a different, cooler, beautiful India now. I remember crossing over a bridge – I took a short video that I’ve included of that morning.

Ladies in the carriage.

Ladies in the carriage.

In my section there were two older ladies who posed for a photo with my mascot of the trip, Snoopy, and a young Japanese girl. The two ladies were wonderful warm characters, and this is one of m\y favourite photos from the entire trip. One thing happened that happens on nearly all long distance train journeys in India is that beggars came along the carriage to beg. Sometimes with no legs and pulling themselves along on a small wooden trolley – this can be quite confronting I guess. Also you may be approached by men dressed as women asking for donations as well.

Prayers in Varanasi.

Prayers in Varanasi.

When we arrived in Varanasi the Japanese girl and I ended up at the same guesthouse, which was handy and we went on a beautiful morning boat trip on the Ganges.

Again, sadly a trip I didn’t take many photos of but a great train journey nonetheless. Thanks for reading, please do comment and of course, May the Journey Never End!

4 comments

  • Hi Andy, growing up in India in an era where domestic flights were considered the ultimate luxury available only to
    the very rich and the Indian Airlines being the only carrier, I used to do such train journeys all the time. I have very fond memories of traveling in the sleeper class with a lot of family members where we would spread out all the home cooked food, and play card games, as if we were on a picnic. And the top berth was my favorite too! You describe the joys of train travel in India well!

  • This certainly does sound amazing. – a journey across the top of India by train! I might be going to Varanasi next year – looking forward to it (along with the excitement of a train journey to get there 🙂 )

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