Take a Train Excursion
A couple of train rides worth taking while in India are listed below. Whether you have a few hours or several day, India's trains can accommodate your needs. Darjeeling - The most famous of the little trains, is the one linking the town of New Jalpaiguri the plains to the lovely hill station of Darjeeling. With a 2 ft gauge, the Darjeeling Hill Railway is indeed a 'toy train' being the narrowest of the regular narrow gauges. The tiny century-old engine is connoisseur's delight. The 86 km Darjeeling line has no tunnels, thus allowing the traveller an uninterrupted view of the breathtaking scenery of the Himalaya.
The 7 1/2 hour ride is a journey especially for rail buffs. Access to Darjeeling - New Jalpaiguri , the starting point of the hill train to Darjeeling, has direct connections to Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati and other places in India. Matheran - The 77 year old line, connecting Neral (on main line of Central Railway) to Matheran , is the main way to reach the tiny hill resort, close to Mumbai. As the little train wheezes up into the clear mountain air one can view the scenic vista of hills and plains below. The lack of vehicular traffic at Matheran makes it an unusual and peaceful retreat.
Access to Matheran - The toy train to Matheran commences from Neral (Mumbai- Pune line), which is connected from Mumbai by local train. The journey up to Matheran from Neral takes about 1 1/2 hours. The toy train runs between sunrise and sunset. Various trains offer excursions ranging in time from a couple of days to nearly two weeks. If you have the time, it is experience you will long remember. Four of the major tours are aboard Ther Deccan Odyssey, The Fairy Queen, the Palace on Wheels and The Royal Orient. These tours include stops at various sites, meals and lodging. The prices are reasonable.