Taj Express, 1964
It’s hard to think of a time when India didn’t focus on tourism. However, before the sixties got well and truly under way, luring people to our many monuments didn’t figure too high on the agenda. A major turning point in the country’s attitude to tourism was the introduction of the first dedicated tourist train—the Taj Express, which started operations in 1964. It was a masterpiece in many ways. Leaving New Delhi railway station at dawn, it would take a mere two-and-a-half hours to reach Agra Cantonment station. This at a time when the shortest rail link between these two stations took in excess of three hours. Perfect for day-long sightseeing trips, the return train would leave Agra in the evening and get one back to Delhi the same night.
As an additonal sop to the multitude of foreign tourists who made a beeline for this train, booking a return fare meant that one would have the same seat number in both directions. Add to that a nice breakfast and dinner, as well as beautifully appointed AC chair cars, and the classic WP steam engines that hauled the trains and you had exotic India on a single line.
That old Taj Express is long gone—superseded by the Agra Shatabdi—but its tradition lives on in later trains like the Palace on Wheels.
Rewari Steam Loco Shed, A Photo Essay
The morning of March 3, 2012