My first stop in India was New Delhi and I loved it there. I was based in the popular Smyle Inn and Hostel. It seemed to be a perfect first introduction to Indian life. Delhi’s chaotic street life is a backpackers dream, my passion for travel was pumped vivaciously on the streets of this sprawling metropolis.
And then on my fourth day, I decided to head south west to Mumbai. I wanted to get a night train so I checked out the options and got it booked. Here’s a full guide to booking it and getting the train to Mumbai.
How to book a night train from New Delhi to Mumbai
To book your train ticket, head to the main entrance of New Delhi train station.
I was staying nearby at the recommended Smyle Inn and so I headed along the Main Bazaar Road to New Delhi station. Literally a 7 minute dander.
If you are going to New Delhi train station from the Metro Station, you will need to pass through the security barrier and up the steps, walk all the way to platform 1 and take a right at the exit.
There are two ticket offices for booking train tickets in India.One for foreigners and one for locals. Obviously this is my travel blog for backpackers so most of you reading will need to go to the ticket office for foreigners. It is well sign posted in English as International Tourist Bureau and is on the first floor of New Delhi train station. Go up the stairs and into the ticket office.
Collect a piece of paper with a number on it and wait your turn. When your number comes up, head to the counter. All the staff in the international ticket office speak good English. They are incredibly friendly and helpful. Tell them the date of the train you want and the operator will give you the options. In my case I wanted a night train from New Delhi to Mumbai on Sunday 28th February 2016.
There was only one option – the train that leaves New Delhi at 16.25 (4.25pm) and arrives in Mumbai at 8.35 am the next day. Great, so now I know the train I wanted, I am given a choice of three classes:
– 1st Class ticket – 3,20 Rupees
– 2nd Class ticket – 2,500 Rupees
– 3rd Class ticket – 2,080 Rupees.
As a long term budget backpacker, I opted for the cheapest ticket in third class. The ticket includes all your bedding, dinner, breakfast and a bottle of water. You can choose your bed as well. I opted for top bunk (out of 3). On night trains I normally prefer top bunk.
Payment is in Indian Rupees only and cash only too. The vendors will have change.
You need to fill in a form in Hindi or English and show the girl your passport. Your passport number goes on the train ticket. You’ll be given your printed ticket with exact times, train number, carriage number, bed number. But no platform number of course, that will be decided on the day. I booked my train ticket two days in advance of my journey. You can probably get away with booking it the day you travel or even an hour before boarding, but my tip is don’t bank on it.
Leaving New Delhi train station
I arrived at New Delhi train station 41 minutes before my train was due to leave. Inside the main entrance I checked for the platform number of my train. It was platform 3. The timetable is written in Hindi and English.
I went through the security bag checks and looked back at the madness of New Delhi with an emotional smile.
I got to platform 3 and my train was already there. A huge number of carriages, the train was red. Down the steps to the platform and I saw carriage A1.
I walked further down until I came to carriage B4.
Each carriage has a piece of paper on it with a full list of names and beds of the passengers. I found my carriage and name first time with ease. A few selfies and a travel video and I boarded my carriage and found my bed 22 straight away.
I took my shoes off and put the sheets on the bed. A train worker came to do a ticket check about 5 minutes before the train left. At the same time he asks if I want meat or vegetarian for both breakfast and dinner. I choose meat.
Night Train Journey from New Delhi to Mumbai, India
The train leaves New Delhi station on time at 16.25. My entire carriage is Indian people and me. I didn’t see any other foreigners on this train. The train is also not full.
At 17.00 dinner is served. It’s good! I get a 1 litre bottle of water, a spicy bhaji, a melon juice carton, a tomato sandwich, a packet of peanuts and a sweet Indian dessert treat!
Twenty minutes later, the train steward asks if I want tea or coffee, I go for coffee. It comes in a pack with a cup and a flask of hot water.
By 18.00 the stewards have collected all the rubbish from the dinner and it’s time to relax for the night. There have been no further stops since leaving and then a surprise at 19.00, it’s crazy!
The stewards bring us all a cup of tasty soup! I assume this to be supper and afterhand I lie down again. Then at 20.00 a piping hot full in Indian dinner arrives!! Amazing! What I had assumed was dinner earlier (and was content with by the way – a more than adequate meal given some of the train/bus snacks I’ve had in the past.), was actually just lunch!
Now at 8 pm after darkness has set in is the real dinner. A tasty Indian feast. Paneer, spicy veg, roti and rice washed down with a yoghurt drink similar to Ayran. Is that the end of the night’s food?!
No! At 8.30pm we are brought a tub of vanilla ice cream.
At 10 pm we make a stop and a hat trick of new passengers get on the train replacing those that got off. Of this new hat trick, one old Indian guy gets on. Grubby, dirty and smelly and sadly he’s in the top bunk opposite me. At 11 pm he falls asleep and starts snoring louder than anyone else I’ve ever heard before. He’s the only one snoring in our carriage of 68 beds and he’s next to me. I was pretty angry about this in fact. He snored CONTINUALLY once every second for the next EIGHT HOURS! He also farts continually and I can smell excrement, he probably shit his pants too!
So on arrival in Mumbai, I’ll have been awake for 24 hours.
At 5.30 am I am asked if I want a coffee or a tea. I take coffee. 5 minutes later I’m given a flask of hot water. The coffee comes with two Marie Biscuits. Then the steward brings me a local newspaper in English! Its called the Economic Times. Amazing! I read it for half an hour. Most of my other passengers are still asleep. Around 6 am, breakfast comes and it’s good. Indian treats, bread and jam and a Mango Juice.
Arrival in Mumbai, India
Ahead of schedule and just after 8 am, we arrive in Mumbai Central station. It has been an amazing journey but I am knackered as I walk through the streets to find my hotel! For third class, this train was so much luxury! In Mumbai, I recommend staying at the Travellers Inn – perfect backpacking base.
Here are some of my videos from the night train: