India by rail – First class overnight
Let’s talk India! Many, many of you recommended to travel India by rail. First thing I did when I arrived in New Delhi was to go and buy train tickets to Varanasi. Although I was looking to book the trains 6 (!) days in advance most of the train tickets were gone. In most classes. I wanted to take the night train from New Delhi (NDLS) to Varanasi (MUV). This journey takes about 13 hours. The only option available was to get a first class ticket on the 12560/Shiv Ganga Express at 6.55pm to arrive at Varanasi station called Manduadih at 7.20am the next day. The ticket price was 2717.60 Rupees – which is roughly 40 euros. My cheapest and by far longest first class ride so far!
What you can expect of the train and service when travelling first class in India
- shared cabin with 4 beds – 2 upper and 2 lower beds with enough space to sit up straight on each
- small towel
- western toilets (yeeaaah!)
- dinner, breakfast and tea for extra charge – breakfast was 30 Rupees, Dinner and two cups of tea were 105 Rupees. Veggie options are available. Ask for not too spicy food – still the breakfast for me was too spicy so I just had two slices of toast with some yam.
- check ups through the train supervisor
What to think of and what to pack
- book your tickets well in advance
- be at the train station ahead of time to find the right train and coach
- have your ticket printed out and ready
- get your coach, seat and platform number two hours ahead
- or/and find your name on the doors of each coach – this will be your place for the night
- know your time of arrival and set your alarm
- bring water to drink, brush your teeth and wash your face
- always lock your cabin from the inside
- sleeping bag – because the blanket is quite light and without my sleeping bag I would have frozen throughout the night
- scarf – the AC is pretty cold
- tissues or toilet paper
- If you have troubles falling asleep bring natural calming pills to sleep better
- iPod or phone with some music, maybe even an audiobook
- if you bring a laptop bring a movie and headphones as well
- if you don’t travel solo bring a card or magnetic board game
- enjoy the ride!
I was quite lucky because the first class was not fully booked and I got a whole cabin for myself and did not have to worry about other travellers.
When the train arrives in Varanasi be prepared for a lot of people and even more tuktuk drivers that want to win you as a client. Many tried with me, but I left the train station right away and looked a trustworthy looking driver that was not shouting for my attention. To get to my hotel – the Shanti Guest House very near the Ganga river – I paid 150 Rupees – might be too much, but I was happy to have found somebody who knew the way.
Have fun riding the train in India, even if you are not travelling in first class this will be a very nice memory!
Keep on travelling,
Note: This trip was part of my Traum.Welt.Reise – “Around the World in 72 Days” project with Marco Polo and Marco Polo TV this summer.