The lush verdure of a Southern monsoon offers the most heart stopping vistas for even the most jaded traveler. But what we recommend is that you combine this exceptional Nature-Cum History and Heritage experience on a fabulous train journey through Karnataka. What we’re not talking about a normal run-of-the-mill Indian Railway train…we are talking about a thrilling rail journey by the Vistadome train, which takes you from Mangalore along the western coast of the state –to the heady delights of state capital Bangalore in the east.
What makes the luxurious Vistadome Train so special are those coaches equipped with great picture windows, which afford the most spectacular scenic views through the lush countryside it passes through along the route.
As the train majestically works its ways through the magnificent swathes of greenery of the great ranges of the Western Ghats, you’ll find it hard to recall the time when an ordinary train with its tiny windows just bypassed this grand theatre of Nature without a backward look. Imagine blotting out this critical biological diversity hotspot, now a World Heritage Site and said to be older than the Himalayas.
The Vistadome coaches are actually attached to tail end of the trains of Indian Railways (IR) which run regularly on this route. What the USP is of the Vistadome coaches is the anti-glare glass rooftop and massive glass windows. They have 44 reclining and revolving seats. Each seat has individual charging sockets for the benefit of people working on laptops and for mobile phones. The seat numbers are also written in Braille for visually impaired passengers. The seating is designed in a 2×2 arrangement with only 11 rows for each coach. What you will love is these rotatable push back chairs provide a fantastic 360°view of the landscape sliding by. Lovely for selfie moments galore! Oh, and there’s also the special observation deck, placed at the end of the coach.
You need to be particularly alert about absolutely stunning 45km Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Ghat section, beginning from Nettana in Sullia taluk and ending at Sakleshpur in Hassan District, along this route. So many “WOW” moments to get blown away!
It’s a scenic ride all along the route with lush rainforest and shola grasslands covering the landscape for about 50-odd kilometers. You cross bridges and slip through tunnels and emerge again to soak in lovely vignettes along the way of pop-up turbulent waterfalls and silvery streams breaking the lush hill slopes and misty valleys with their own drama.
There’s a brief halt (10 minutes) at Siribagilu, where you can hop off and drink in the natural splendor of these surrounds. This station straddles the superb Brahmagiri range, with a 180-degree picturesque panoramic view of the Western Ghats.
From the Bangalore end the train takes off from Yeshwantpur Station, so don’t go trundling off to the city’s main station. In Mangalore, Vistadome trains arrive at and depart from Mangalore Central. The journey takes anything between 10 to 12 hours from Bangalore to reach Mangalore. You can also now catch a Vistadome ride on train routes between Bangalore to Udupi as well as all the way to picturesque Karwar.
The trains to choose to travel by for this lovely experience are: The Yesvantpur-Karwar tri-weekly special; The Yesvantpur-Mangaluru Jn-Yesvantpur Express Special; and the Gomateshwara Express/MAJN YPR EXP)