Monthly Archives: June 2016

Indian train Journey – An overnight experience !

Being a city girl you don’t get to travel lot by train , so when an opportunity arose ,I grabbed it!!! And can I add it was a complete treat for all of us.

Cross country train rides are always a treat and a must for  anyone who  truly wants to experience India. At Shikhar Travels, we recommend them to all our clients. We were traveling from Delhi  to Varanasi  on the Shiv Ganga Express train.

I have always been fascinated by train rides. This was my first journey on the train with my 4 year old ; she is completely obsessed by trains and this just added to our excitement.

We arrived at New Delhi Railway Station 30 minutes before the departure of our train , worried we may not reach in time to catch the train . That didn’t happen though. It is recommend to get here 45 -60 minutes before the scheduled departure of your train if  you are not a frequent Traveler of the Indian Railways. There are two reasons for this – one, you get an opportunity to observe and absorb the overwhelming experience you are about to discover  and second, you most likely will not miss your train .

At Shikhar Travels we always recommend our clients take an assisted transfer to the train station so we can guide you to the correct platform , coach and berth . In my case my guide was my husband, who frequently travels by trains.

The station was a pleasant surprise at first with escalators leading to the concourse and platforms.  Then we arrived at the platform, crowed with hundreds of people- some waiting for their train to arrive , others seeing off their relatives. It seemed more like a picnic spot with everyone relaxed , sitting in groups and chatting while they sipped tea and ate their snack. For some their luggage became their pillow as they lay on the platform.

We finally located our coach and boarded the train and can I add we were pleasantly surprised .  We booked ourselves in 1AC, which is the first class coach of the train . The corridor , covered by a red carpet led us to our compartment. The compartment came in sets of two and four bed. Ours was a compartment of two beds.  The coach was very clean, contrary to our previous experiences. The toilets also were clean and odorless . This was the case only for 1AC coach. If you travel into the other coaches, nothing seemed changed from my earlier travels.

You are spoiled  with numerous choice of food and drinks . On our trains meals were not include but vendors selling different snacks and drinks keep doing the rounds. Our first treat was hot masala chai … Which was just perfect !! Next came hot Pokoras , omelette , sandwiches , tomato soup and finally dinner. I must add , we did not eat everything!!! We just took the tea and dinner.

We ordered chicken briyani and chicken thali meal for dinner. The food was too spicy for us , though it would be Apt for most Indians . If you are not use to spicy food then you can carry your own packed dinner . We did carry a bag full of nic nacs , which we called our “hill of snacks”and they came quite handy.

For those who don’t know, Dominos Pizza also deliver pizza to your platform  in various cities around India – they are well spread out. Just pre-order it and the delivery boy will be waiting for you as your train pulls into the station where you have asked  for your delivery. At most stations the train stops for 2 min so it is essential you pre-order. The process is simple -ask your train conductor for the next major station, locate a dominos branch in the city, and call them and place an order!!!

Our night on the train was very relaxing , we made sure not to pack in any gadget. We were given a blanket, pillow and two clean sheets and a towel. By 10 pm the everyone on the train had mellow downed for the night . Our beds were made and we were ready to sleep – though that didn’t happen until past midnight.

Morning starts early on the train. We woke up at half past four in the morning when our train arrived at Allahbad station. By half past five the tea vendor arrived with hot masala tea.

Our journey in the morning was very interesting . As the train goes through the Indian country side , you witness the lifestyle of rural India and small towns … From men taking a crap beside the railway tracks,  children using the “Indian tooth brush and paste”, ladies Sweeping their houses… To people waiting at the “on the road ” railway crossing for the train to go through …The day has started early….

Out of all the experience we had the final one was waiting for another train to go by, as we waiting on the single track we were travelling on. As the other train zooms through , you get a quick glimpse of  the people on board the other train. Some sitting at the step of the exit door-others peeping out of the window to get a glimpse of you.

Our train arrived at Varanasi station 45 minutes late. The delay is something very common in trains India but totally part of the experience. We were met on arrival by Shikhar Travels representative in Varanasi and escorted to our hotel on the ghats of river Ganga.

To experience a train journey , enquirer about one of our unique train journeys today at

9 International Trips Indians can Take in a Budget Less than Rs 1 Lakh!

There are trips – and amazingly beautiful ones – that you can take in less than Rs 1 lakh only if you know how to plan right and spend the right way. Foreign trips are not all that elusive as they are mad out to be and can also fit the budget pocket.

Indians love their vacations and wherever in the world you go, you’re sure to find an Indian! But then, while we do love to fly and enjoy, it is also at times difficult as Indians don’t exactly fall in the high-earning bracket. Most of us here in the country come from a middle class background and while we do love to explore newer destinations, the most difficult part is the managing money. Most currencies are quite expensive as compared to the rupee and each time you plan a vacation, you only end up converting those Euros and Dollars to rupees and cringing at the cost. Also, the visa hassles and the fear of the unknown and you’re almost ready to ditch your plan!

9 International trips for Indians

But then, if you thought that you would have to save for years and years just to be able to afford one trip, you thought wrong! There are trips – and amazingly beautiful ones – that you can take in less than Rs 1 lakh only if you know how to plan right and spend the right way. Foreign trips are not all that elusive as they are mad out to be and can also fit the budget pocket. There are lots of countries in the world and while Europe and the US are on every Indian’s list, you can try visiting the lesser known lands for cheaper, better deals too! Here are a few countries that you can try and visit and at the same time, not worry about the costs too!

1. Turkey

Cappadocia Turkey

Want to visit Europe but don’t have the budget for it? Well, Turkey is a great bet as it is one of the cheapest ways to explore Europe. Plan well and prepare in advance and the trip will not set you back by more than Rs 1 lakh – lesser if you do not include the shopping! The airfares aren’t that bad and if you bargain right, you can get great deals for rooms too! The food is pretty yumm and there are tons of options for vegetarians too. Turkey is just the place to be at to satiate that Europe craving.

2. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

One of the closest countries to India, Sri Lanka is unfortunately not on many Indians’ travel list. Though famed in Indian mythology, the region today is very different and has a rich cultural heritage. Plus, it has a lot of beaches, natural flora and fauna. The food won’t be too much of a problem too as jus like us Indians, the Sri Lankans love their spices too and you can get a whole lot of variety. Oh, and if you love elephants, this is the place to go!

3. Bhutan


The land of Buddhism, Bhutan is definitely a must-visit if you’re on a shoe-string budget. the locals are warm and friendly and if you’re someone who love culture and likes to explore religious and historical places, you’ll fall in love with the place! Monasteries on hills and unending views of the mountains – Bhutan is nestled in nature’s own lap. Bhutan also offers a host of adventure sports and is quickly emerging as a adventure sport destination. So then, there’s something for the adrenaline lover in there too! Psst – Bhutan is the happiest country in the world and you’re sure to leave your vacation grinning from ear to ear!

4. Dubai


Hands down one of the most popular destination for Indians, Dubai can be done on a budget trip if only you plan right. Book your airfares in advance and do not stay at all those amazingly luxurious hotels. Dubai packages are available online for really cheap and always remember – if you can get it that cheap in a tour, you can easily plan your own trip in the same cost. You can even try some of the adventure sports that Dubai has to offer. Psst – The less than 1 lakh tag definitely does NOT include your gold splurge!

5. Thailand


Made famous by Bollywood songs and natural beauty, Thailand is Indian honeymooners favourite destination as here you get lots of natural beauty at a great price. Thailand is also a shopping heaven and a great place to visit with friends too. Whatever kind of trip you want, Thailand can provide it. From shoe-string budgets to high-end places, Thailand has it all. One of the best options for an international trip, no matter what budget you’re on!

6. Indonesia


Unfortunately, though very popular among international tourists, Indians have not yet embraced Indonesia. It is not as popular with them and the small but absolutely beautiful region has a lot to offer to explorers. Indonesia has a whole lot of temples thanks to its Hindu culture. Also, the region has a lot of flora and fauna and the crystal clear waters of the Indonesian beaches will mesmerise you. It’s not very expensive and Indonesian Rupaiah is not very expensive for Indians too!

7. Malaysia


The one thing beach bums can never stop craving are beaches and Malaysia is God’s own gift to beach lovers. The stunning landscape and the beach activities and you’ll be a happy soul. Not just beaches, Malaysia also has a whole lot of monuments and if you’re someone who loves to relax, why not chill with a beautiful landscape surrounding you? it is perfect for the party lovers too as it has a crazy happening nightlife! A blissful place!

8. Singapore


Though generally offered as a package deal with Malaysia, Singapore is great to explore even by itself. Right from Sentosa island to night safaris and the city beauty, Singapore will leave you wide-eyed and stunned. It is one of the most beautiful countries and has a lot of unique flora and fauna. From under-water parks to amazingly spacious botanical gardens, the region has it all. It is also in your budget if done the right way and will leave you with a lifetime of memories.

9. Vietnam and Cambodia


Often neglected by Indians, these regions have some of the best to offer in terms of natural beauty. They’re also perfect if you love hitch-hiking or are a lover of solo trips. The countries are rich in culture and there’s a whole lot of sightseeing. Maybe not for shopaholics, the regions are a must-visit for those who absolutely love nature and look out for reasons to explore her blessings. You can either take one trip or a separate one but don’t miss these places for sure!

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

There are a whole lot of trips that you can take but then always remember – on your trip abroad, plan in advance and don’t splurge on high-end hotels and restaurants. Instead, take public transport, eat at smaller establishments and if possible stay with the locals to experience the local life. Happy tripping!


Indian Railways’ First Wildlife Tourism Train – Tiger Express

Union Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu on the occasion of the World Environment Day 5th June flagged off Tiger Trail Circuit Train from Delhi’s Safdarjung Station. He flagged off the Tiger Express through video conferencing between Delhi and Mumbai.

Tiger Express

Tiger Express was launched on World Environment Day to highlight the significance of environment in our lives. The Railway Minister took personal interest in conceptualising this train. The tourist train will be operated by Indian Railway PSU named Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

The route of the train:

Route of Tiger Express

The train has five days and six nights itinerary and it will start from Delhi’s Safdarjung Railway Station and travel via Katani, Jabalpur, Bandhavgadh, and Kanha. It is a semi-luxury train and it will take the guests onboard to the world famous Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks in Madhya Pradesh.

The tourists will also get to enjoy Dhuadhar Waterfall in Dedhaghat near Jabalpur. Railway Minister said on the occasion of the flagging off the train that, Indian Railways is fully committed to address environmental issues. He also pointed out that he is assuming charge took the initiative of creating a separate dedicated Environment Directorate in the Ministry of Railways.

Tiger Express Train

He informed the people that his ministry is taking various steps to be more environment friendly. Mr. Prabhu while flagging off the Tiger Express told that tiger is at the apex of the food chain and so it has tremendous ecological impact and hence the ministry found it befitting to launch a train on Tiger. He announced that Indian Railways through, its PSU, IRCTC will launch more tourist circuit trains like elephant circuit, desert circuit.

Here are some salient features of the Tiger Express:

The Tiger Express has been launched with the objective to create awareness about our national animal tiger. This train is one of the most innovative tourism product ever launched by Indian Railways.

Tiger Express - Dinning Car

The Kanha National Park which is part of the tour is known for the presence of tigers, swamp deer and barasingha. This national park is considered as source of inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel “The Jungle Book”.

The Bandhavgarh National Park which is also part of tour is famous for its biodiversity. The density of tiger population in this park is highest known in India. This park hosts a large breeding population of leopards and various species of deer too.

The train’s itinerary has been planned in such a way that tourists get to see three tiger safaris and have ample time to see the majestic wild cats in their natural environment and also get to see other wildlife.

Apart from journey by the semi luxury AC train the package also includes AC rooms in three star resorts, sightseeing and road transportation by AC vehicles, buffet meals, game safaris, inter-city transfers and travel insurance.

dinning car - Tiger Express

This is also the first semi-luxury train on a tourist circuit having a dining car. The objective behind it is to facilitate frequent interactions among travellers during the travel. No other semi-luxury train is equipped with a dining car.

The trip which was flagged off yesterday is the inaugural run and the regular monthly trips of this fully AC train will begin from October. The train has been decorated with vinyl wrapped motifs of the wildlife.

Indian Railways which efficiently conducts the Desert Circuit in Rajasthan and Heritage Circuit in North India is for the first time venturing into the exciting wildlife tourism.

Fare Structure:

The itinerary has a tariff structure starting from Rs. 38,500. For travelling in 1AC, tariff has been fixed at Rs. 49,500 for single occupancy, Rs. 45,500 for double occupancy, Rs. 44,900 for triple occupancy and Rs. 39,500 for child with bed (5-11 years).

The fares for those travelling in AC 2-tier is Rs. 43,500 for single occupancy, Rs. 39,000 for double occupancy, Rs. 38,500 for triple occupancy and Rs. 33,500 for child with bed (5-11 years).

However, these rates are valid for Indian citizens only. An additional surcharge of Rs. 4,000 per person will be charged from foreigners for the Safari booking at Bandhagarh and Kanha.


Day 1 – Sunday Departure from Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station at 1500 hours. Dinner and overnight on board.

Day 2 – Monday Arrival at Katni by 5:40 hours. Breakfast on board, proceed for Bandhavgarh for hotel check in and lunch. Later proceed for evening safari (Khitauli Zone). Dinner and overnight at Bandhavgarh Hotel.

Day 3 – Tuesday Departure from Bandhavgarh and proceed for Kanha. Check in and lunch at Hotel. Later proceed for evening safari (Mukki Zone). Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 4 – Wednesday Morning Safari (Mukki Zone) in Kanha with late morning breakfast. Lunch at hotel. Evening time for leisure, dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 5 – Thursday after breakfast proceed for Jabalpur. Lunch at hotel in Jabalpur. Proceed for Dhuadhar Waterfall in Bedhaghat. High tea in the evening before proceeding to train station. Dinner and overnight on board.

Day 6 – Friday arrival at Delhi Safdarjung Station at 1550 hours as tour ends with happy memories. Breakfast and lunch on board.