There were four choices to reach Goa from my place, Mumbai.. .. by air, by cruise, by road or by train. The distance is around 600 Kms by road.
Since we had heard about the Konkan belt with all its ghats being extremely beautiful to watch, we decided against the first two options. Also, they were to take either too short or too long duration. Traveling by road was again rejected on three points.
1. It would have meant spending around 15 hours by any overnight Volvo bus taking into consideration all the stops and ghat (hilly terrains) roads. It would also have hampered our wish to enjoy the scenic route.
2. Hiring a car for nine days from Mumbai itself was just not a feasible option. We didn’t want to take our own car as DH really wanted a break from driving for all those nine days. Also there was a risk of car breakdown and not able to take the car everywhere.
3. I have an irritating habit of feeling nausea on hilly road journeys.
So very coolly (and to my excitement) we booked our journey by train for both directions. AC chair car in Jan Shatabdi train makes the journey even more enriched. The travel time is 8 & 1/2 hours. The tickets are around 700 INR each. For non-AC chair car on the same train, the fare is around Rs 200/- There are some overnight trains as well but we decided against them.
Traveling to Goa by Konkan Railway is a real pleasure as the train passes through breathtakingly beautiful sights and many tunnels… the best part of this train journey. I had never seen as many as over 50 tunnels on a single route !! I think Konkan railway and tunnels can be treated synonyms. Some of the tunnels are very long ones & take time to pass through. Initially I kept track of the number but after some time I had to let it go. One snack vendor told us they are 58 or 59, he was also not sure of. On some places the walls, when we could see them in the pitch black, are very close to the train.
It was raining throughout the journey and we were quite wary of our tour with bemausam ki barsaat. But seeing the beautiful greenery, passing through fields, palm & coconut trees with chain of hot cup of coffee or chai (tea) has its own experience. As usual, traveling in Indian trains also means continuous supply of hot tea/coffee and snacks.
There are three stops in Goa province, one north, one in the central (north) and one south, and if you do not know exactly which one your stop is, it is a long way between them. There are many towns and beaches and many more not on the map.
An important railway station which most tourists tend to miss is Thivim which is just 20 minutes away from Calangute beach by taxi. The train passed Thivim, crossed over the Mandovi River Bridges, a brief halt at Karmali (Old Goa) station, over the massive bridge over the Zuari River and proceeded cautiously towards Madgaon (Platform 1).. .. the place where train ends its journey and where we were to put up for next few days.
Because of the rains and the ghat area, our train got delayed by more than three hours. By the time we reached hotel, there was just enough time to walk down to the beach which was 1 & ½ Kms far from the hotel.
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