Darjeeling Journeys

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

In Wes Anderson’s new film The Darjeeling Limited, three brothers travel through India by train, seeking to find enlightenment and reconnect as a family, all while they wrangle with cobras, overindulge on cold medicine and carry an inordinate amount of monogrammed luggage (or baggage, if you will). While primarily a comedy, the film is also part travelogue, and Anderson’s painstaking cinematography captures amazing shots of the Osian Dunes, a Sikh temple and marketplace in Jodhpur, and the Udaipur airport.

Getting such fantastic glimpses of India got us thinking about different ways to see the country by train.

There are several luxury liners chugging their way through the landscape, such as the Viceroy of India, which began traveling between Mumbai and Calcutta last year; The Palace on Wheels, which traverses northern India; and Heritage on Wheels, which visits the Delhi-Rajasthan region. 

Then there are the ‘Toy Trains’ along the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (which were designated World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 1999). To learn more about them, we wandered over to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited website, a reference guide to India’s varied railroads, run by the Ministry of Railways. Here are a few highlights of current and forthcoming travel itineraries onboard these  ‘Toy

Trains’:

The Fairy Queen

– The whimsically named train departs from Delhi for a two-day journey

that includes a chance to see tigers on a jeep safari through Sariska National Park.

The Maha Parinirvan – An eight-day tour of Buddhist temples and pilgrimage sites.

The Kalka Shimla – One of the more popular railways in India:

A journey on this railway is a unique experience as one passes

through the breathtaking landscape of the majestic Himalayas, through

tunnels and over bridges; amid the lush green valleys embellished with

pine and oak trees. The traveller is left with a long lasting memory of

rhapsody and triumph.

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Neral-Matheran Hill Railway – Travels to the hill station of Matheran, which provides a panoramic view of the landscape:

An exciting two hour ascent in

a toy train, with food and drink vendors and monkeys jumping on and

off.

As for the monkeys, we assume they are jumping on and off the train, not you personally.

For samples of India as captured in the film, visit the video section of The Darjeeling Limited website, where you can see them film footage inside a Sikh temple and other sites.

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