Thursday, October 28, 2010

Indian Railway - Traveling tips

Indian Railway is one the of the most popular mode of transportation in India. It is unavoidable mode of transportation as well. Unavoidable Yes! Thanks to its fantastic reach. You may be an elite traveler used to plane travel and luxury cars but be prepared for train travel if you are going to move extensively in India.     

To few train travel is a frightening spectacle especially if you cannot afford to travel in AC class. The dirt, squabble and chaos of second class travel is by no means palatable especially if you are traveling for a long distance. Anyway here are few this to remember:

Book you ticket in advance. Reservations start forty five day before travel date.

Booking can be done online as well through booking counters on stations. 

Tour & Travel operators also book tickets through booking counter.

Book in AC Class if not on budget travel. Ist, 2nd & 3rd.

Keep tab of your reservation if in waiting. 

Book by Tatkal reservation system if seat availability is not there.

Tatkal reservation is available three day before travel date. 

Do not eat from unregistered eateries and porters. IRCTC catering is safe. 

Carry mineral water, colas and packed fruit juices.

Do not eat food offered by suspicious elements in fact avoid totally. Carry you own food.

Buy fruits with peel.

Keep tab on your luggage.  Best use chain lock.

Keep tab on personal valuables. Keep your ticket safe.

Do not alight at the station en route if necessary do it for short time. Ask a fellow traveler that you trust to keep a tab on your luggage albeit it is no guarantee.  Do not blindly trust anyone. 

Know your rail route before hand. 

Know your train particulars name number and timings. 

Reach station before hand and make sure of the platform it is arriving at.

There is an inquiry counter on every station for information. Do not trust anyone for information. The porters can be of assistance. Check for registration number plate on shoulder.   

Indian Railway travel is safe and enjoyable as it offer you sight of vast cross section of the country. Basic precautions have to be taken like in case of any mode of travel. Since number of passengers is so high it can be a bit chaotic. Travel by AC class if you need more privacy and comfort. 

IRCTC website offers online reservation facility. You can buy I-ticket and E-ticket online. If the ticket is in waiting list then you can check online. Railway reservation status is checked using the 10 digit PNR number on your ticket. You can find reservation status using pnr number online at IRCTC website. The site provides pnr status enquiry tool to find your reservation.

Other means to check pnr status is through mobile phone sms service. IRCTC has made it possible to check reservation status using SMS pnr enquiry number assigned. This is done through mobile messaging utility. You should keeb a tab of your reservation status. If your train berth or seat is confirmed than note down you coach and berth number to avoid last minute finding about.

Find the arrival platform early and then see the coach number mentioned on the plates hanging from the station roof. The platform number is also shown in this manner. Stand with your luggage in less crowded portion of the platform. As the train arrives confirm the train number as well as the coach number mentioned on the coach. Confirm your berth on chart next to the door if  posted. Or seek the TTC help who is normally available few minutes before the arrival of train near the coach.  

For more serious matters relating to any discomfort or service you can seek guidance from the top authority  - The Station Master.      

Happy Journey!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

River by the Fort

Allahabad Fort 

The Fort at Sangam once an object of glory and pride stands neglected, but not in complete ruins. The occupants find shelter in the ancient monument - now an object of architectural and historical significance at best. A temple busy with worshipers executing their duty to God, Indian army, pigeons and parrots, bats, insects and more. 

Till this day the Fort at Sangam serves its purpose. A silent sentinel that stands witness to one of the most holy spectacle in the World.  The meeting of the country's holiest rivers takes place at Sangam - Ganga - Yamuna - Sarawati. The religious fair and biggest pilgrimage Kumbh Mela is held after every  4 years, Ardh Kumbh every 6 years,  Purna Kumbh every 12 years and Maha Kumbh Mela after 144 year in India is organized in Allahabad. The fort has a maligned existence that of imposition and conquest a futile exercise in superiority .

The fort is a testimony to barbaric conquest, a triumphant onslaught of a foreign ruler over the souls of a billion devotees.  In spite of periodic dominance of alien culture the essence remained preserved. The fort appears to be intact, nurtured perhaps by the confluence of the holiest.


The rivers in India are progenitor of humanity as they sustain life throughout the land. Worshiped as mother, Ganges resides in the heart of billions of devotees. For every devout Hindu, Ganges is mother of worship and an object of atonement - from sins of the past. Ganga Devotion initiated perhaps by the conservation ethos of Vedas, the river has selflessly sustained life and myriad civilizations in its fold throughout its existence. The overload of the burden is evident but the service continues.  

Mythology though secondary has elaborated and justified the spiritual and religious significance of Mother Ganges. The rituals though devoid of rationality for some are  pathway to  religious and spiritual quest for millions. The ritualistic exercise and meditation besides communion with God have a deep meaning - a methodology that adds value and justifies conservation of our environment as whole. Kumbh Mela the spectacle of Gods, heightens veneration - a womb that nourishes billions of souls - Ganges.         

Allahabad - (Prayag)

Allahabad itself, a spectacle of filth on roads and chaotic humanity,  is blessed by the confluence of the holiest rivers. A town of temples and modern architecture, it spirals uncontrollably over its sacred past and invading modernity. No wonder India's holiest destination is most coveted by devout Hindus. A much sought after travel that ironically excels as place of last rites - a final assimilation with earthly elements.