Different train options for South India

Train travel within South India is not as extensive when compared to the North. The popular places (for eg in Kerala) are not well connected and most of the times, it is more convenient to hire a car or fly. Having said this, the Konkan railway (Southern railway) is the most scenic and taking a train is well worth the effort.

Listed below are a few of the best South India train journeys

South Indian trains

1. Mumbai to Goa

Train Name – 10103 Mandovi Express

Starts from Mumbai CST up to Madgaon
Departure time – 07:10 hrs (CST)
Arrival time – 18:45 hrs (Madgaon)

*if staying in North Goa, alight at Pernem or Thivim

Pros: As it is a day train, the countryside is best explored. You chug through the winding waterfalls, mountains, rice fields and lush greenery.

Cons: The train has the most stops and one that takes the longest to reach Goa. The train is for those who enjoy long journeys.

Return Journey: (10104 Mandovi Exp) Leaves from Madgaon at 09:30 hrs and reaches Mumbai Cst at 21:40 hrs
There are other trains available on this route too; Konkan Kanya is an overnight train and Jan Shatabdi is the fastest, reaching Goa in 7 hours time. However, as all Shatabdi’s, it has chair car seats so not the most comfortable.

Watch the beautiful countryside pass you by on your journey to Goa – Credit: Prakhar Saxena

2. Goa to Hampi

Train name: 18048 Vsg Howrah Express
Starts from Vasco Da Gama up to Howrah (Kolkata)
Runs only on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday
Departure time – 07:10 hrs (Vasco)
Arrival time – 14:53 hrs (Hospet Junction)

*Hospet is the nearest station to Hampi

Pros: This is the only train to Hampi from Goa. Hoewever, the biggest plus of taking this train is that you pass through the very famous Dudhsagar Falls (Sea of Milk). It one of the most scenic waterfalls and if travelling in the monsoons, a definite must-see. The train halts for about a minute at the Falls.

Cons: As the train does not run every day, you have to plan your itinerary according.

Return Journey: We suggest avoid the train if going from Hampi to Goa. The train starts from Kolkata and firstly it would definitely be delayed by the time it reaches Hospet and also used and dirty. Alternatives are taking a bus/ renting a car, but please note that the roads on this route are not very good.

The Howrah Express passing through Dudhsagar Falls – Credit: Benjamin Rualthanzauva 

3. Hospet to Mysore or Bangalore

Train Name – 16591 Hampi Exp
From Hubli Junction up to Mysore
Departure time – 20:45 hrs (Hospet)
Arrival time – next day 09:40 hrs (Mysore)/ 06:10 hrs (Bangalore City)

Pros: It is the most convenient and inexpensive alternative. The train is well-timed. You do not waste a day travelling.

Return Journey: (16592 Hampi Exp) Leaves from Mysore at 18:15 hrs (Bangalore City – 21:50 hrs) and reaches Hospet next morning at 07:40 hrs

Trains are a convenient and inexpensive way of travel – Credit: Richard Murrin

4. Goa to Cochin

Train Name – (16345) Netravati Exp
Starts from Lokmanya tilak terminus (Mumbai) upto Trivandrum
Departure time – 23:00 hrs (Madgaon)
Arrival time – next day 14.10 hrs (Ernakulam Junction)

Pros: Cheapest way to get to Cochin. There are rarely direct flights on this route. Flights are via Mumbai, Bangalore or Hyderabad.

Cons: One of the most-used trains, especially by Indians, hence tickets have to be booked well in advance (two months before departure date) as they get sold out quick.

Return Journey: (16346 Netravati Exp) Leaves from Ernakulam at 14:05 hrs and reaches Madgoan next morning at 05:00 hrs
*There are other trains on this route that take less travel time, however, they do not run on all days. Check your travel dates to see if they are available.

Women waiting for a train – Credit: Sonny Marcyan

5. Alleppey to Varkala

Train Name – (12075) Jan Shatabdi
Starts from Kozhikode (Calicut) upto Trivandrum
Departure time – 18:15 hrs (Alleppey)
Arrival time – 20:05 hrs (Varkala)

Pros: Quicker than driving and much cheaper too. Also if only on a Kerala trip, there are not many instances where one can travel by train so if both these places are part of your itinerary, take a train, just for the experience.

Return Journey: (12076 Jan Shatabdi) Leaves from Varkala at 06:32 hrs and reaches Alleppey at 08:15 hrs
This train starts from Calicut and halts at Cochin (Ernakulam Junction) too.

Happy travellers – Credit: Pepe Pont

6. Mumbai to Aurangabad

Train Name – 12071 Jan Shatabdi Exp
Starts from Dadar station upto Aurangabad
Departure time – 14:00 hrs (Dadar)
Arrival time – 20:35 hrs (Aurangabad)

Pros: The fastest train with the fewest halts. You can also fly to Aurangabad, however, flights are either very early in the morning or late evening.

Return journey: (12072 Jan Shatabdi Exp) Leaves from Aurangabad at 06:00 hrs and reaches Dadar at 12:30 hrs

Mumbai railway lines – Credit: Satish Madivale

7. Chennai to Pondicherry

Train Name: 12635 Vaigai Exp
Starts from Chennai Egmore up to Madurai
Departure time – 13:20 hrs (Chennai)
Arrival time – 15:45 hrs (Villupuram Junction-nearest station to Pondicherry)

Pros: Again the cheapest and most convenient way to get to Pondicherry. Rented car fares in Tamil Nadu are the highest when compared to other regions and taking trains when possible makes it easy on the pocket. If not delayed, the train takes lesser time than driving.

Return journey: (12636 Vaigai Exp) Leaves from Villupuram Junction at 11:42 hrs and reaches Chennai Egmore at 14:40 hrs
*The train goes up to Madurai. You can take this train either from Chennai or Pondicherry to get to Madurai

Clips of Pondicherry railway station – Credit: BiancaJAnderson

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