About


Ever wanted to do an epic Indian rail journey ?, but would prefer some allies for the mission ?, but dont particularly want to be surrounded by train freaks, just your common or garden India fan, and a few guys who actually know what they are doing (not that I’m one of them). Think you can handle Indian trains for 2 solid weeks with virtually no break ?, as long as the food and sanitary arrangements are worked out as best as humanly possible. Got a fortnight to spare in February 2011 ?. Then get in touch, just post a comment or turn up in here

http://www.indiamike.com/india/indian-railways-f10/the-great-circular-indian-railway-challenge-t93181/

We’ve also a facebook group here, so if you are just passing but would like to give us an approving nod, please join

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=372971199730

The core of the plan is starting in Mumbai go to Dwarka in the west, Udhampur in the north, Ledo in the east, the Cape in way way down south, then back to Mumbai, inside 2 weeks. Oh, and try and keep to the edges as much as possible, no skiving it on express trains through the middle of the country when there’s a perfectly good express that keeps to the sides. The full journey will clock up nearly 12,000 Km of track and over 17% of the vast Indian Railways network.

The plan has settled down somewhat. We’re going to be hitting the highest point on Indian Railways at Ghum, and the most coastal (there’s nowhere on the network that is actually sub-sea-level) at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. We will be on board every night bar 2, and while we will be making sure we get a good “sit-down” , shower and  a shave wherever possible, this isnt something you want to sign up for unless you are totally bonkers. If you’ve done India more than once, and fancy something a bit different, this is your chance.

Right now we’ve got at least, er, anything between 25 and 50 people, up for the whole trip so far (at this stage it’s anyone’s guess who will actually turn up but we’ll have a good idea by the summer) .  We’ve also got a number of people who are up for doing parts of the trip. If you would like to be involved with the adventure, but feel that 2 weeks solid is just a bit too stupid, please get in touch through one of the various channels. The Assam section in particular is an adventure in itself.

We also, at the last count, have about 10 ladies. Traveling on Indian trains can be a bit daunting if you don’t really like being stared at, for hours. If you always wanted to do something like this, but wanted to have someone as daft as yourself to do it with so you don’t end up feeling paranoid pretty quickly, look no further, your time has come.

As a challenge, as if doing this in 1st Class (I mean 2AC) isn’t going to be hard enough, the “winner” will be the entrant who completes the course in the cheapest seats they dare to book themselves into for a 2 week marathon, provided they are still on the train when we finally get back to VT. If you are a seasoned Indiaphile, and have therefor done at least a bit of train riding on the sub-continent, I invite you to hang out in SL class for the whole trip.

We are hoping to turn the entire escapade into a sort of do-it-yourself version of some travel program meets big brother meets video diaries of a mid-life crisis. We’ll be blogging away like crazy during the event itself,  so you can follow us round from your desk. You’ll have to order your own idly sambar though.

I had a kind offer to make a guest post on Gonomad recently, so here’s another summary of where we are at

http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

Cost

For non-Indians, the Indrail pass costs £136 for AC2 (that’s effectively first class on most trains). I cant see even the most avaricious eat their way through £150. We have 2 overnight stops scheduled, but we’ll also be taking rooms in a whole bunch of places so we can wash ourselves and our undies.  If you budget for the price of your air fare to Bombay (<£400, might even get it under £300) then you’ll have plenty. You’ll have paid for your rail fare in advance. So 250 quid spends and you’ll have more than enough.  If you’re serious enough to be worried about the cost, please sign into IndiaMike and ask some questions. But quite frankly, if you’re concerned about that side of things you might be underestimating what it is we are undertaking here.

If you want more information on Indian Railways, or for that matter any railways, anywhere, always check out the man in Seat61

“Sleeper Class”. the only place to be

 

Who is in charge ?

**NOBODY**

I will be making every effort to co-ordinate and promote the event, but I need to stress that we are all independent travelers. I am not a company, and I’ll probably make you sign a disclaimer on arrival in Mumbai to state that you understand that and nobody on this trip is liable in any way for your safety in any respect.

We’re starting to get real momentum with this, my target of 20 people looks easily within reach. There are numerous members of the group who are as nailed on as they can be at this stage. Many know an awful lot more about India than I do, and I’ve seen my own share of this incredible country. In my opinion you’ll be hard pressed to find anything quite like this from any travel agent, and there’s just no way you’ll get it at this price. But you need to know that this isn’t Cox & Kings!.

Do I have to raise money ?

No, you don’t have to raise money for Railway Children or for anyone else. For my own purposes of trying to gain publicity for the event and hence increase the sponsorship potential, then just by getting on the train you are helping. If you do want to get involved with that side of things then please get in touch.

If you want a straight talking analysis of why Railway Children are a cause worth supporting, watch this

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3026369

How do I sign up ?

Well, as I said three paragraphs ago, theres nobody actually in charge, so there’s no signing to do, by anybody. But if you want to join in you can join the discussion forum on IndiaMike, or any of the forums listed on the right, post a comment in here, or if you are a nasty e-marketing bot you can spam me to death at mc_lester@yahoo.co.uk.

12 responses to “About

  1. ben

    Spiffing idea – trains … india … what could be stretchier? 2 weeks solid is just a bit too much trains, but will look into joining for leg or legs. I’ll check my 2011 diary once I have bought one.

    • Lester

      Apart from Assam, which could prove highly popular, there are obviously numerous sections that the casual enthusiast could do. If you wanted to do just a bit of Indian trains, but wanted to do it with someone who knows what they are doing, this could be your ideal chance. I’ve got several people in the gang already who seriously know their Siliguri from their Kanyakumari.

  2. markp

    Sounds very cool! But non-stop means no sight-seeing? (of course except the sights from the train window) I’ve never visited India before and would like to see more some of the places as well..

    • Lester

      It’s not that kind of trip, but there are a few places that you’ll get to see that you’d be hard pressed to do otherwise.
      Very few people (like I’m still waiting to make contact with anyone) who has been on the north bank of the Brahmaputra from Dibrugarh.
      You can use us part of your India adventure though, just arrange to hop on at a given point on the route and join in the party.

  3. Tony T

    Great idea!! I am sorely tempted… this sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Now, if I can just find my anti-laziness prescription…

  4. Sandra

    Love the idea of this, trying to work out if I could do this and leave 2 children and my hubby behind.
    Watched the programme on C4 last night and was so moved by the children there and would love to help.
    My then 11 year old will be very upset he can’t come along and do this as well! Unless he can of course? I would take full responsibility for him.
    I will keep an eye on this site and see what I can do.

  5. Hi! I would like to swap links with your site. My blog is http://www.travelocafe.com. I’ve already added you under my “Links” section on my page. Please send me the description you favor for your site. Thank you!
    I’m also looking for guest bloggers. Please let me know if you’d be interested in being featured on Travelocafe.
    Regards, Laura

  6. Hey GCIRC folks

    Just letting you know that Mark’s excellent guest post is now live on my rail blog. Please pop over and say hello! The more I read about it the more I’m tempted to join up.
    Cheers
    Jools

  7. liubitsa

    Hi guys, I’ve just read about the idea in a Bulgarian newspaper. There was no timing mentioned. Is it on going and is it possible to join if it’s on February :))? I’ve been in India just a month ago and I’m planning my self to come back. I work with different desadvanteged communities, with Roma children from segregated neighborhoods, children in institutions. I’m interested in the cause, the situation in India, the country and the trip. In the very moment I have no problem to join.

    Good luck with the cause and the trip🙂.

    Best,
    Lyuba Batembergska.
    Sofia, Bulgaria

  8. Pingback: All the way around India by train | Drew Gilbert

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