I’ve spent a lot of time on Indian trains over the last month or so, including an epic 39-hour and 2147km journey from Delhi to Karnataka. Luckily, Indian sleeper trains are amazing!
I love the sensation of going to sleep in one place and waking up in another. Or not waking up – on more than one occasion I’ve been awoken by a helpful fellow passenger telling me that the train’s arrived and if I don’t get a shift on I’ll be on the way back to where I started . .
Train at sunset
The trains themselves are also fab – I am a big fan of the the little berths that you snuggle down into overnight (which are perfectly Fran-sized, although I’m not sure what you do if you’re any taller than me) and of the cute packet of clean linen and blankets supplied to each passenger.
New Delhi train station
Porters loading goods onto the train at New Delhi
The trains are really sociable places as the sleeping berths are grouped in compartments of four or six beds. I’ve met lots of fellow backpackers to hang out with as well as Indian travellers intrigued by a British woman travelling through India on her own. “Ah,” concluded one guy on my most recent sleeper train sagely. “No friends.”
On lots of the trains, food and drink sellers turn up at various points, each one shouting out what he is selling as he wanders up and down the carriage. More often than not there’s a tea man, intoning “chaichaichaichaichai” like a mantra, and offering tiny, delicious cups of tea for Rs5 a cup. If you’re really lucky, there’s a Dairy Milk man (my personal favourite). On my extremely long train journey this weekend, the food and drink sellers surpassed themselves – on offer to hungry and thirsty passengers were cold drinks, tea, coffee, lassi, tomato soup, samosas, sandwiches, ice cream, chips, crisps, chocolate, pomegranate seeds, biscuits, fried spicy potato cakes (highly recommended), caramelised pumpkin sweets from Agra (not at all recommended), vegetable biryani, vegetable omelette and vegetable cutlets. Yum!