The Rajdhani Express is the interstate express train in India that is capable of taking you from Trivandrum in the south all the way to Delhi in the north. It’s a whopping 50 hour journey all-in if you’re into that kinda stuff, but taking it just part of the way is much more enjoyable. As enjoyable as Indian trains can be anyway.
I genuinely thought that trying to catch a train in India would be the hardest thing in the world. How would we know what train and carriage to get on? Would there be cockroaches in my bed? Would there be people hanging around our beds trying to steal our stuff as soon as we knocked off to sleep? Would I get food? How would I go to the toilet? When would we know when to get OFF?!
The good news is, I have answers. So here are the facts about what to expect on the Rajdhani Express to help you plan your own adventure on India’s west coast.
Booking + Cost
We took the train from Kochi Ernakulam south railway station to Madgaon (Goa) which was approximately 12 hours. It costs 2300 rupees each for 3AC sleeper class (class explained below) but we booked through Carnival Tours on Princess Street in Fort Kochi. It will be slightly cheaper to book at the train station but the man at Carnival was so helpful and I’ve found that when booking trains in India it’s a really good idea to pre-book the longer ones through a travel agent otherwise there’s likely to be limited space available. That, or you’ll end up in general class where you will literally be fighting for your seat. Or having locals sat on your lap.
- 3AC is an 8 bed berth but it isn’t so bad.
- 2AC is a 6 bed berth.
- First class… not sure what this looks like but as a budget traveller we were happy in 3AC and felt safe if that helps!
At the station
At Ernakulam Station (Kochi) there is a blackboard on the platform that is written on in chalk which will help you figure out where you need to get on according to your carriage. It might sound complicated but it’s actually really easy. At some stations, they’ve gone digital and have a screen with all the same info. There’s always an English version. Once you’ve figured that out, go get some chai while you wait from the chai wallah or the store on platform 1 (between 5-10 rupees is the going rate for a little cuppa chai).
There is a platform waiting room which costs 25 rupees per person and has toilets along with a few other amenities including air con (don’t get excited, it’s not very cold). It’s good for just getting away from the mozzies and relieves stress of constantly keeping your eyes on your bags which you have to do endlessly if sat on the platform.
The train stops for 5 minutes only, so if you end up at the wrong carriage, jump on anyway and walk through on board rather than running up and down the platform.
On board: what you get
Included in the ticket price is morning tea (they call it chai but it’s just a tea bag and hot water), and breakfast which consists of two pieces of bread, butter and something I can only
describe as a cross between a samosa and a croquet potato. Turns out you’re supposed to spread the samosa potato thing onto your bread. That was followed up with another cup of chai.
You get two sheets which come wrapped in a large postage envelope, a small towel, a pillow, and a blanket.
There are chargers on the train in 3AC (so likely in 2AC and 1st class too) and at platforms – probably wouldn’t leave your phone / camera unattended but if you’re desperate then the facilities are there.
We kept our hand luggage bags and valuables on our beds and put our big backpacks under the bottom bed. We felt safe but do always keep an eye on your stuff.
So I guess I can answer all my pre-Rajdhani Express worries now. No there weren’t cockroaches in my bed, there weren’t people hanging around my bed waiting to snatch my stuff. Yes I got food. I had to squat (and most importantly wear shoes, take my own loo roll and use hand sanitiser afterwards) to go to the toilet, and the friendly local helped us by telling us when we would need to get off. Hopefully that helps with any pre-India train info you might be looking for too!
Happy travelling, feel free to ask any questions below, or tell me all about how much you love Indian trains…!