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It is an opinion held by many that if you want to see a country in its purest glory, you should see it by railway. There is some justification for this opinion, too. While roads are commonly built from A to B and often pass through mile upon mile of nothing in particular, railways are trickier to build. As a result, they have to submit to their surroundings and this can make them a scenic route all of their own.
Among the most famous national railway carriers, the Indian Railways are recognised worldwide. It has commonly been said that the railway service is the second largest employer worldwide. This is actually untrue, as the latest surveys place it in eighth, but is nonetheless a stunning statistic. The railway service is certainly the largest employer in India, ahead of its armed forces.
All of this demonstrates just how fundamental the railway service is to India. If you are visiting the country, it makes sense to ensure that at least part of your journey is made on a train. It allows you to take in the stunning scenery that makes up India along with experiencing the country in its pure form. When you spend some time at an Indian railway station, you will see why it has so many employees. This is how the people of India get around India.
Seeing India by rail allows you – more than any other way – to take in this country's sights and sounds. You should make sure to catch as many of them as possible.
India has for some time been seen as a poor nation, with poverty widespread and a weak economy. In recent decades it has been actively shaking off this reputation and its economy has grown considerably. This is easiest to see in the cities, where sparkling business premises sit side by side with the still vibrant marketplaces. Colourful saree fabric, exotic spices and beautiful jewellery abound.
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India is a popular safari location, inextricably linked in the minds of many with Kipling's Jungle Book. You don't have to go on full safari to see some of the most iconic animals in India, as railways pass through the landscape that is home to many. But you may stop off on a train tour to get to see them really close up for a photo opportunity. Tigers, elephants and lions can all be seen in their natural habitat.
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No tour of India would be complete without getting to see its great monuments such as the Taj Mahal and Delhi's Red Fort. One particularly worthwhile trip would take you to see the abandoned Indian capital, Fatehpur Sikri. Once seen, it is never forgotten.
Due to the volume of passengers Indian trains carry, carriages can have two or even three levels. Should you be more advanced in years or mobility-impaired, it's advisable to book lower berth quota tickets to avoid the stairs. In some people's opinion this is in any case the best way to see India by rail – at ground level, where you can really take it all in.