Indian Railways in its effort to boost tourism has introduced a few Vistadome trains in India that promise to offer a varied enjoyable experience.
It has been around six months since Karnataka introduced Vistadome train to Mangalore and it had been on our list to must-do things regarding travel. Also considering the pandemic scenario we wanted to choose travel that is hassle free as an expereince without moving out from the state.
I must say, post 2020 we are exploring a lot what the magnificent Karnataka state has to offer and there are breathtaking destinations right from hill stations, to mountain views, temples and beaches. This time the intended experience was to hop on to a train that offers a different view, 360 degree views from its seats.
It was in December 2021, that I saw the advertisement published by Indian Railways and decided to travel soon. I had seen enough videos and read a few blogs and was preparing myself and the family on what to expect from the train. Yet as Omicron strain started becoming dominating in the country and in the city I live, the idea of travelling seemed too frail, even though I had booked the tickets.
There are travel agents who will book seats for you or you can do it yourself. Select Executive chair and check the pricing which will be around Rs, 1400 per ticket. Please don’t opt for wait-listing as there are minimal chances people cancel booking on Vistadome. You should be able to book 20-30 days in advance. Either you can opt to stay in Mangalore for a night or extend the holiday and stay in Mangalore/Udupi for 2 days and get back to Bangalore.
We began from home at around 5.45 am to reach Yeswantpur railway station on time. The train departs from Yeshwantpur at 7.00 am and reaches Mangalore by 5.00 p.m. Also note on certain days of the week, the train goes all the way until Karwar. One good thing I noticed on the train route is that it goes to a few tourist destinations on the way like to Sakleshpur, Shravanabelagola so that one can even plan a holiday to these too.
There is also the option of having a good holiday at Sakleshpur and then booking the Vistadome from Sakleshpur to Mangalore which is cheaper in its fare and lesser duration. The best scenic views are supposedly from Sakleshpur to Subramanya Road, though we enjoyed the experience right at the beginning itself.
The seats look inviting with its bright red colour, the windows are definitely large size to give travellers the option to get a better view. However not all seats turn 90 degrees and that can be a problem if you want to get the promised views as described by lucky travellers or by the tourism department.
The windows are huge in size and thankfully have the option of pulling the curtains when it becomes sunny during the day. The ceiling has partial transparent cover but it doesn’t offer any views.
Yet, all of us were excited to be on the train journey that looked very different from the usual boring dull and dark coaches. The train at times felt like a toys train experience that we have had in Darjeeling or in Ooty and at times like a regular train with the best of views. The route ensures kids have a good time when it goes through tunnels but it nullifies the joy of experiencing darkness, a habit that we as kids would have in our childhood train travel experiences. Here it is very much lit so one sees the reflection on windows of ourselves rather than the dark tunnels.
Also this train from Bangalore to Mangalore offers a complete panoramic view from the last coach. Even if you are booked on the other coach you can walk up to this area and take pictures and enjoy the magnificent views. This is apparently not available if you are booking the train from Mangalore to Bangalore.
Points to note:
- Even though food is available, it is advisable to carry some food from home like sandwiches or fruits to be on safer side.
- Travelling on Vistadome can be a fun experience if you are travelling solo or with friends or family.
- Book on a weekday and from Bangalore as you might find lesser crowds and more opportunities to move around without bothering about people and more angles and windows to take memorable pictures.
- As it is a public transport, be ready to bear noisy kids, chattering of people and sounds and smells of food packets like chips being opened and food around in an AC coach.
- Be warned, it can look like a lengthy train route as it takes around 10 hours to reach Mangalore and you have no choice of sleeping but be seated on your space. The seats do move like an AC bus where you can give your back rest and you definitely have more leg space on Vistadome. The luggage has to be kept at the beginning in the luggage counter of the coach, so ensure it is chained and locked if you are worried about its safety.
- Apart from blue skies, lush greenery, we also spotted peacocks and peahens that made the journey more memorable.
- You can definitely bring a book to read or listen to music on earphones apart from capturing images on your camera and cherishing the varied sights nature has to offer.