The Bhopal Shatabdi: Train Travel in Central India


At India Unbound we love to coming up with interesting and innovative new tours for travel in India and I think this is one of our most imaginative itineraries to date. It is based on one of India’s comfortable, air-conditioned ‘superfast’ trains (that’s Indian Railway’s description, not mine) – the Bhopal Shatabdi.

Beginning in Delhi, the 700 km journey to Bhopal in central India is taken over the course of 16 days in a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ format, allowing clients to visit several of north India’s cultural highlights: Mathura, one of the country’s seven sacred cities; Agra, home of the Taj Mahal; Gwalior, known for its magnificent fort; Orchha, with its fabulous Mughal heritage sites (pictured); and Bhopal, where the itinerary finishes, a city of grand mosques and vibrant markets. Included are side trips to Sanchi, one of India’s best preserved and most extensive Buddhist sites, and Satpura National Park, which offers a range of wildlife experiences, including nature walks inside the national park (a rarity in India).

The train travel and hop-on, hop-off format of the trip is the ideal way to avoid long drives on India’s poor quality roads; instead you can relax with a cup of chai and a book as the countryside rolls by.

Obviously this is a great option for lovers of train travel, especially those who are not keen on the slightly overdone atmosphere of the luxury trains. It would also suit well-travelled people who want to experience travel in India from a different perspective.