Director: Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar; Cinematographer: Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar
Duration: 00:22:35; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 79.647; Saturation: 0.035; Lightness: 0.438; Volume: 0.348; Cuts per Minute: 13.939
Summary: We were off to Mc Leod Ganj, and the quicker and simpler way there from Delhi is by a twelve-hour direct bus, but Anushka is not a big fan of long bus rides unless they’re through particularly spectacular landscapes, and certainly not overnight ones, so when we found out about the alternative – mostly by train – she was immediately sold. If you look at the two routes on a map, the one we took does seem a little more than just a bit roundabout — a nine-hour train ride to Pathankot, then five hours by toy train to Kangra, and then an hour by bus to reach Mc Leod Ganj (with a change of bus at Dharamsala) – but the toy train ride is absolutely worth the extra time you take.
Anyway, back to Pathankot. Thanks to the train delay we had to stay the night at Pathankot – not part of the original plan – but we managed to drag ourselves out of bed bright and early to catch the 7AM train to Kangra. The train was a total delight, squeaky clean (even the loo!) and with generous sliding glass windows with no grills that you can stick your head out of and feel the breeze. For quite some distance it travels through the plains, mostly through fields of wheat and a few small towns, before it starts ascending into the mountains. There is only one track the entire way, except at stations, where we often had to stop for a long while to let the train going in the other direction pass.
The other lovely thing is that there are platforms on either side of the train, so at every station there are people are streaming in and out from both directions. The only thing we really missed on the train was food – there isn’t the usual bustle of vendors at every station – and since we’d woken up early and skipped breakfast, we were eagerly looking out at every stop hoping for some yummy local snack, but were disappointed each time.
The thrill of the train is really something indescribable. It’s all the magic and romance of a train journey, but slowed down and miniaturized, it somehow makes you enjoy the experience so much more.