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
We’ve also a facebook group here, so if you are just passing but would like to give us an approving nod, please join
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
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 ?
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.