Travelling around India with India Rail without buying a copy of the India Rail travel Essential: Trains at a Glance, is like trying to cook vegetables without water, possible, but not effective.
This book contains information on every train in India. It has route maps, and India maps. It even has tidbits on India culture and monuments which make a good read on long train trip.
'Trains at a Glance' Allows you to search for trains in three ways: (1) by the number of the train that every train has been allotted, (2) by route - Every train track has an allotted route number and name and (3) by destination.
When you are using this book, use the travel maps to ascertain what train will take you closest to your destination, if the express or direct trains are booked.
In the picture below my friend Manuel (from Spain) is waiting for train to Tundlar Station from Mughal Serai Station. Now where is Tundlar? Where is Mughal Serai? Good Questions.
Tundlar Station is a small town 50km south of Agra. Mughal Serai is a small town 10km south of the Ganges from Varanasi's Kashi Train Station.
We went this way because getting a seat on a Train from Varanasi to Agra (two huge destinations in India) can take weeks. I met many tourists who had been trying for days. The staff won't help you set your route. Not at all. They require you to fill out a reservation form, and queue up and present it to the clerk. If that reservation is not available then you have to try and make another one for another day or time and get back in queue. To the busy tourist thisis preposterous!
What should you do?
Consult your 'Trains at a Glance' think laterally, and fill out a number of reservation forms. Starting of course with your preferred train first, your second choice reservation and so on. Remarkably the Indian rail clerks didn't mind this. In fact I think they respected our use of their system. It worked well. We always got a seat. Even if our journey waqsn't as direct as it could have been. Taxi's are cheap aren't they in India.
There is another way to reach Nepal (Kathmandu or Pokara) via Varanasi then to take a flight. The possibility is to take a bus wthat in 2 days will take you in Nepal.
Every GH or agency will try to sell you this journey but it is a very hard and long way (altough it costs only 200 indian Rupias).
The first day the bus willdrive you till the border where you have to overnight in a GH on the border, then early in the morning day 2, the bus will take you in other 6/7 hours to the final destination...
It should be a greeat journey..but...quiet long...
The quickest way to reach Kathmandu from varanasi or vice verse is to take a plane. It will costs you something beetween 55-75 Usd (30% discount under 30 years old). It is better to book a couple of days in advance anyway.
The flight is very quick and with Indian Arilines you will have no problem at all.
Do not expect any service in particular.
The airport of Varanasi is the smallest and the particular one I have ever seen in my life.
The check in is made MANUALLY with no PC!!!! So you can immage how many overbooking or mistakes could accure!
The first thing to rememebr is to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure because as all is made manually the waitign time is very long.
Take in mind that it works like this:
They check you in and put a label on the backpack, then you take your backpack and go to the “gate”. After checked againthe bag they take your bag and you can cross the custom paying the fees.
After passed the custom, you gotta go outside and reckonize your bag and make them load it on the flight!!! That’s crazy...but in Nepal, is even worst! Check then my page!!
From my point of view this is the must activity number one, altough it is at real a transportation tip... The experience that you will do taking a train to reach Varanasi is something great, something that will never leave your brain.
I took the train from Jaipir to Varanasi, and it should be a 15 hours ride scheduled, but at the end it tooks about 30 hours!
I choose to reserve the 2nd class sleeper departing at 13,10 from Jaipur, cuz I was wishing to meet a lot of backpackers. At real I met only local people, amazing people!! No one tourist was on that train!!! (or not in that tube)
For the adventure details, pls check the must see activity details.
The ticket costs only 330 Rs (take care abt the provvision that could blown the price!!!).
To buy the ticket is better to go diretcly to tre train station (if you can go there one day in advance), otherwise every agency is able to do this for u, but in this case you gotta pay a provvision to them...
Well!! I will suggest it’s a good idea to hire a car for the whole day for sight seeing.But in case you are of the kinds who would like to see the city as a localite, so you can take up a “Rickshaw(driven by human, kind of cycle)” or a three wheeler. They will not cost too much even in case they will try to cheat a tourist, but still try making a bargain of 20 –40 indian rupees
Best way to travel around India.
For long transfer reserve a bed in sleep coach with ac.
Very clean and confortable but a little expensive.
About 1115Rs from Varanasi to Agra.
Varanasi Cantonment Station have a toutrist box to book ticket and a very good information office. Nice old man help you with schedul and rates
The way to find your seat in a train, if you have made aprevious reservation, is quite easy: The cars are named by a letter and a number (AS1 means Airconditioned Sleeper Car1), so is easy to find your seat. The list shows a "Gonzalez" in bed 28. This way you can know in advance the name, nationality and age of your travel companions.
If you have to cover a long distance, take sleeper trains. They are comfortable and reliable. Try to reserve 1st class, is a bit more expensive, but there is quite a difference!
An interesting experience is to make a short trip in one of the “basic” local trains, where you can feel the pulse of the fascinating everyday life…
The best way to see all the 'Gaths' is by hiring a boat. Almost everywhere this can be done, but be sure there are enough boats so you are in a good bargain position. Best time is in the morning (sunrise). Prices : little boat, 4 persons Rs50 and larger, 15 people RS75...
Also be prepared to see the odd corpse floating down the river
By jeep or bus. Watch out the road is bumpy, hectic and rocks can lay on the middle of the road.
By boat for instance. DO YOU LIKE BLACK AND WHITE PICTURES BY THE WAY? I have loads of them in my TRAVELLOGUE!
It's possible to walk along the ghats by foot and everyone of them is slightly different. Some are busy with bathers and people just sitting whilst some are deserted.
We took a night train from Agra to Varansi. The train left from Idgah Agra Station and a sleeper was 205 Rs per person.
The price will decide me what to travel, never travel by plane domestically, always by long distance bus, train, hitch hike etc...
By car or bus. Watch out though the roads are busy here and very bumpy too!
By boat for example. Prices aren't that high, it depends on the distance on the time you want to use the boat for.