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Over the years there have been stories about the food/drinks served on Indian trains - lack of quality/variety and worse involving hygiene. I would always recommend bringing your own food and not buying/eating anything offered on the trains.
Now two new companies - Mera Food (Info here) and Travel Khana (Info here) offer fresh food delivered right to your train. Menus are veg/Jain and prices seem reasonable. I'd definitely check this service out!
Updated Mar 8, 2013
Last minute train tickets can be booked under the Tatkal scheme.You may book your ticket through an agent if you are not a resident . However you will not get any refund in case of cancellation.And ofcourse the fares will be much higher compared to the normal ticket.
Last minute plane fares will be quite expensive as compared to normal fares.In India there is always a demand supply mismatch.Being able to get a confirmed ticket for any journey is like winning a lottery !
Written Jan 7, 2013
There are different possibilities of buying train tickets in India, non of them is reary comfortable.
If you are in a big Indian town you can go for the "Tourist Quota"
If tat doesn´t work you cat try to get a "Tatkal" ticket ((only 48 or less hours before departure).
If you are on a budget book "second class sleeper", upper berth has the Advantage that you can lay down whenever you want.
If you have a Amex Card you can buy also with Indian rail direct:
Otherwise use Cleartrip: you need first to register and activate a Cleartrip account, then you need to register and activate a IRCTC (Indian rail) account.
To register and activate with Cleartype is easy. With IRCTC you must be very carefull, start with trying to book a train with Cleartrip (but not signed in !), and a form will pop up, or click on that link:
In the form you write you Cleartrip username (unless you changed it, it´s the E-Mail adress you used when you registered).
Then you select a IRCTC username, unfortunaly it doen´t show if it´s used or not, you have to try until you find a unused one.
For Zip code put in any 6 digit numder.
For mobile phone, put any 10 digit number (unless you have a Indian SIM card)
Then send a copy of your passport and your IRCTC username to email@example.com
You will get sent a Mobile OTP (one time verification code) and a Email OTP (both are 3 letters and 3 numbers, if for some reasons you get sent more then one of those, use the latest).
Don´t start your IRCTC activation before you registered and activated a Cleartrip account and registered with IRCTC and recived a Mobile OTP and a Email OTP !
After that, sign in with Cleartrip, the booking will be easy.
Updated Sep 30, 2012
Youre going for business or to see Taj Mahal? Well I summed up everything if I take the train or bus (its only 4 hours). If youre going for tatkal it would be costly say around 800 rupees for 3rd AC (which I usually take)for 1 way! Then I saw online on a bus tour for 890 rupees ( Taj Mahal, Mathura, Agra Fort and souvenir shops). I ought to visit Agra Fort also, its beautiful! From the train station you have to hire a auto rickshaw that will cost you 200-400 rupees to take you around Taj and Fort. Best option is by bus, go to the Delhi Bus Station at Old Delhi or contact O9212763036 a local agent where I got my tickets.Much fun to be in a tour where you'll meet other travellers, plus you wont get lost or ripped off!
Written Sep 14, 2012
Its really hard to register with IRTC. I had to go to the train reservation office to book my ticket but first I check the schedule at IRTC website together with the class and see if there's any availability. Note down the train number and name then run to the station ask for the form, fill the info and get the tickets. There's a counter for women so better have your gf to line up and buy there as its easier. I only got to book a ticket online through my Indian friend who had the ID for a long time. Its frustrating to go thorough all these (sometimes the inquiry window is in another location which is very far from the ticketing office...GORAKPHUR) and have to re-plan your itinerary due ticket availability time is wasted. They also have what you call "TATKAL" special tickets available the day before the trip that is more costly. Another option is that you buy it from a ticketing agent who will charge you 300-500 rupees more ($6-10USD). If all fails then go get a bus ticket and take the small distance trips. AC buses are also good sometimes can be cheaper than the trains! But I like trains more as its faster...Heres the link for checking the train berth availability....Goodluck!
Written Sep 2, 2012
For a western visitor, used to give priority to his right, with signposted exceptions, it's hard to understand traffic in India. But things do work there, and after some days you'll be able to understand the complex order of priority, that goes like this:
1 - The cow (absolute and divine priority)
2 - The elephant (almost like it)
3 - The camel
4 - The heaviest truck
5 - The other trucks
6 - Cars
7 - Wagons, carts, rickshaws
8 - Bikes
9 - People
10 - All other animals except pigs
11 - Pigs
Chicken don't count, and the order from 4 to 6 may be reversed by the use of the horns, or, stronger than that, light signals.
Good luck, and enjoy, it's really an emotion, but I must admit that, in two weeks, I only saw two accidents and two dead cows.
Updated Aug 21, 2012
Now There is over night sleeper delux bus from Bikaner to Amritsar every day it take 11hours.it start from Bikaner 6pm and arrive in Amrisar around 5am. if you want to go Amristsar from Bikaner you can go directly not via Delhi.
Written Aug 3, 2012
To travel around India without riding on an Indian Railways train will be a huge loss. I myself took 3 trains; from New Delhi to Agra (return) and from New Delhi to Jaipur.
It is no doubt that Indian rails are of top quality and conveneint.
It serves millions of passengers across the whole of India.
Being a foreigner, one must be watchful of the scams available.
Generally, Indian people are kind and helpful. However, the scam that cheats most of the tourists are due to 'overly' kind protrayed by the locals.
Please hold on to your train tickets at all time; be it the real train ticket or the e-ticket printed out by IRCTC bought from Internet.
I would like to emphasize that the print out e-ticket is TOTALLY valid and can be used. A kind person came and told me that me ticket is not useable and had to reddeem to a real one. So I was taken a joy ride of 400 rupees to Connaught Place of IRCTC HQ just to so called redeem it. There, they played thier scam of trciking us that the ticket is invalid and you cant board the train. Then they will counter offer you with a car or van about 10 000 rupees...
So please keep on the tiket and be confidence.
I managed to get back to the station in the nick of time and jumped onto already a moving train to find my seats are there empty awaiting for my arrival...:)
The servies on board, whether it is A/C seat (for journey to Agra) or 1st class ( to Jaipur) is superb.
Meals, Newspapers, beverages were given and the services are commenable.
At least it is by far better than my country's.
When a person approach you asking for your tciket, just kindly reject thier offer and be condifent that you really do have the ticket.
Also, please book ticket about 2 weeks ahead before departure.
I went during the Indian summer recently and it was fully booked. It was lucky that I booked it ahead.
And please plan your journey well, as the hassle to buy a new ticket and also to change the departure time is a hassle since we do not speak Hindi.
Also, being in train station alone is safe. But I would like to remind tourist to travel in a group or to stand in brightly lid area.
I took the last train home to New Delhi from Agra, as the station gets darker, less people will be in the station.
Indian people are very curios people, they tend to stare at foriegners. Even I was labelled as "white' there.
If you are friendly, you can find other tourist and stay in a pack.
DO NOT offer any snacks or water to the children. A Korean friend of mine did, and it attracted another group of kids and it was hard to get rid of.
Also, the station maybe dirty and a little unattended. Please do not buy any junk food or drinks from the station. This is just a general rule of precaution.
Otherwise, the train ride is an exciting adventure and you can truly enjoy the journey....just like I did...:)
Written Jul 30, 2012
Has your vacations started? Are you planning a trip to Europe or any other part of the world? If the answer to these questions is yes then you definitely need some transportation tips while travelling. While travelling abroad you can explore different cultures, people, land and languages.
Updated Jul 4, 2012
For 15 days now i have been trying to book a ticket from Kolkata to NJP with Cleartrip as you cannot book directly with Indian Railways if you are a foreigner living outside India. After registering with both Cleartrip and IRCTC, getting user IDs, numerous passwords and trying to book my ticket 120 days in advance watching anxiously as the number of sleepers left fell from 27 to only 1 available, but alas i still could not get through the procedure and secure my ticket so i eventually gave up, purchased a ticket with Spice Jet instead, so my advice is to wait until you get to India before purchasing train tickets.
Written Jun 4, 2012
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