Our Favourite Indian Rail Journeys

BY Lucie, Yonder escapologist

At Yonder we believe the only way to truly experience a place is up close and personal. And in India this means getting about by train. Seeing India through the windows of a train carriage is a genuinely unique journey into the heart and soul of this captivating country.

Lots of non-specialist tour operators would have you visit India in a sanitised, hermetically sealed bubble: plane to coach to hotel and back again. The less contact with the ‘real’ India the better.

Interestingly, this is precisely why we do not offer the most famous Indian rail experiences – the Maharajas’ Express and the Palace on Wheels – as standalone tours.

Both those experiences have their place – and are undoubtedly popular – but in our humble view, there are better ways to experience India than on a fairly contrived tourist train. We want our guests to scratch the surface and get face-to-face with India in all its bonkers authenticity, not shepherded around from sight to sight, making contact only with fellow tourists. And of course, there’s our raison d’etre: we insist on tailoring every trip to each guests’ unique preferences – not something you can do while following a tourist train’s set itinerary.

If the idea of crowded trains and hectic stations feels a little daunting, don’t worry. We will of course book you the most comfortable first class journeys, and your personal guide will be on-hand every step of the way to help you navigate the bustle and ensure you (and your luggage!) end up at the right place.

So, without singing our praises any further, here’s a taste of some of our favourite Indian rail journeys. 

The Golden Triangle by rail

      • Delhi to Agra: 225km, two hours
      • Agra to Jaipur: 240km, five hours
      • Jaipur to Delhi: 270km, five hours


This iconic trio of cities encapsulates the splendour of imperial and regal India with a treasure trove of historical sites.

Begin your cultural expedition in Delhi, taking in the monuments of Old and New Delhi. The capital enthrals with the towering Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate and the grand Red Fort. Spend two full days exploring before a quick two-hour express train to Agra.

In Agra, behold the sublime Taj Mahal, an eternal emblem of love. Witness the intricate marble inlay work and riverfront views of this World Wonder. Nearby lies the formidable Agra Fort and the ornate Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. After a day and a half in Agra, embark on a five-hour rail to Jaipur.

The sprawling palaces and bustling bazaars of the Pink City of Jaipur provide a fitting finale. The splendid Amber Fort and City Palace complex transports you to the royal lifestyle of rajas and maharajas. With buzzing local markets and gardens, Jaipur offers a colourful two-day stop.

In just over a week, this essential rail journey allows you to experience the cultural riches of Mughals and Rajput princes. Hop aboard this classic route for a taste of India’s imperial history and architectural marvels.

The Taj Mahal to Shimla 

      • Delhi to Jaipur: 270 km, five hours
      • Jaipur to Ranthambore: 145 km, three hours
      • Ranthambore to Agra: 285 km, five hours
      • Agra to Delhi: 225 km, three hours
      • Delhi to Amritsar: 450 km, eight hours
      • Amritsar to Chandigarh: 240 km, five hours
      • Chandigarh to Shimla: 115 km, five hours


Journey into the very heart and soul of northern India on this epic rail journey from the Golden Triangle to the north of India.

Begin amidst the labyrinthine alleys of old Delhi, where every whisper seems to carry a millennia of tales. As you transition, Jaipur unfolds, a city drenched in the colours of the royal sunsets. Then there’s the pristine wilderness of Ranthambore, where nature pens her most compelling narratives. Agra beckons next, with the Taj Mahal casting its timeless silhouette against the sky—a love letter in marble. 

From here head north, to the spiritual tapestry of Amritsar, the architectural marvel of Chandigarh, and the cool, colonial elegance of Shimla via the famous Toy Train. And like a well-penned story, return to where you began, Delhi.

The Maharajas’ Express and Kerala

      • Delhi to Agra: 210 km, two hours
      • Agra to Ranthambore: 285 km, five hours
      • Ranthambore to Jaipur: 145 km, three hours
      • Jaipur to Udaipur: 425 km, eight hours
      • Udaipur to Jodhpur: 285 km, six hours
      • Jodhpur to Agra: 585 km, 11 hours
      • Agra to Mumbai: 865 km, 16 hours


Take the iconic Maharajas’ Express on a week-long luxury rail journey from Delhi across Rajasthan to Mumbai. After this royal retreat, explore Kerala’s natural bounty and tranquil backwaters.

Board the Maharajas’ Express in Delhi to begin your rail voyage in lavish carriages. Experience the splendour of the Taj Mahal in Agra and search for tigers on safari in Ranthambore National Park. Continue to the regal cities of Jaipur and Udaipur, admiring their grand palaces and forts. From Jodhpur’s mediaeval blue houses to the caves of Ajanta near Mumbai, this train journey evokes the opulence of royalty.

After seven nights aboard the Maharajas’ Express, disembark in Mumbai. Fly to Kochi and immerse yourself in Kerala’s tropical atmosphere. Cruise the palm-fringed backwaters on a houseboat, spending lazy days floating by rice paddies and villages. Get a taste of wilderness in Periyar National Park, where elephants, bison and monkeys roam. Spend your final day exploring Fort Kochi’s antique shops before this epic cross-country adventure ends.

From the bustle of Delhi through Rajasthani kingdoms to the tranquillity of Kerala, this train and backwaters voyage provides the perfect blend of culture, wilderness and relaxation.

The Mumbai to Goa sleeper

      • Mumbai to Goa: 580 km, 12 hours


Take the scenic sleeper train from bustling Mumbai down India’s picturesque Konkan coast to reach the tropical paradise of Goa.

Begin by exploring the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, spending a day seeing highlights like the grand Victorian Gateway of India, the trendy cafes of Colaba Causeway, and the sun-soaked sands of Juhu Beach. As the sun sets, head to Mumbai Central Station to board the Konkan Kanya Express to Goa.

Settle in for a 12-hour overnight journey along palm-fringed beaches, rocky cliffs and rolling hills. Arrive at Madgaon Station in Goa to be greeted by swaying palms and the laid back vibes of this beach state.

Spend lazy days blissed out on Goa’s pristine beaches, whether the lively northern strands of Baga and Calangute or the quieter sands of Palolem and Agonda in the south. Absorb Goa’s Portuguese-tinged architecture in Old Goa, indulge in fresh seafood by the seaside, and enjoy the infectious festive spirit and nightlife.

After four days in tropical paradise, board another overnight train back to Mumbai, relaxed and rejuvenated after a week-long coastal escape.

Lucie, Yonder escapologist

By Lucie, Yonder escapologist


Yonder is a specialist India tour operator, including tailor-made, luxury holidays to India which can include any of the must see places discussed in this article.

Previous holidays which we’ve booked include India’s Golden Triangle and Tigers toura culture, wildlife and backwaters tour in Kerala and the hidden India Rajasthan tour. These can be great inspiration for your own itineraries.

We can also arrange luxury holidays which explore all the different aspects of India such as our Incredible India tour.

All Yonder itineraries are crafted on a tailor-made, one-off basis, so you can be sure that your holiday will be as individual as you are.