North India by Train
On this train route, through the north of India, you will discover cultural highlights and see the Himalayas. In Dharamsala, you follow in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama. A highlight of the route awaits you in Shimla, where you take the famous Kalka Shimla Railway. We have put together a useful North India itinerary so that you know which cities you should definitely visit in order to discover the country and its people.
Recommended Days: 10 Days
Riding Hours: Approx. 26 – 28 hrs
Distance: 1,071 km
Transportation: Train, Bus, Taxi
Delhi: Capital of India
Inhabited by 21 million people, Dehli stands as the second-largest city in the country. It is split into two districts, New Dehli and Old Dehli.
In Old Delhi, the notable landmarks include the Red Fort and the largest Mosque in the country, Jama Masjid. Not far away is the Chandni Chowk Bazaar, where local merchants offer spices, snacks, jewelry, textiles, and just about everything else you could want.
In New Delhi, you will find the Presidential Palace and the India Gate. Also a side trip to the beautiful park “Lodhi Gardens” is worthwhile. More sights in the city to explore are the Agrasen Ki Baoli step as well as the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple.
New Delhi → Amritsar Junction | Duration: 6:25-12:15 h | Transfers: 0
There are seven direct connections a day ranging from 6-12 hours long. Choose your direct train connection accordingly at the train station, or if going with a tour, this will be sorted for you.
Amritsar: The Dancing Border Town
Your second stop on this North India itinerary is Amritsar. This Indian city is especially known for its golden temple, and for its dedication to the Sikh religion.
Scattered around the city you will find Sikh temples as well as other holy places. The Sikh religion can also be experienced through various ceremonies happening throughout the year. You may even come across a pilgrimage ceremony.
Also here in the city, check out the Partition Museum explaining the division of British India and Jallianwala Bagh, a memorial for the 1919 massacre.
Don’t leave without visiting the Wagah Border, here you will find Indian and Pakistani border patrol officers having a dance-off every night 30 minutes prior to sunset.
Amritsar Junction → Dharamsala | Duration: 3:53-8:19 h | Transfers: 1-2
There are unfortunately no direct connections available, however, there are two options to get to Dharamsala/Dharamshala. The first option is to take a train from Amritsar Junction to Pathankot (a 2:10-3:10h journey, with six direct trains to Pathankot a day), and then you can get a taxi from Pathankot to Dharamsala which will take around (a 1:43h journey and is around 90 km). The second option is to take the same train from Amritsar Junction to Pathankot (a 2:10-3:10h journey, with six direct trains to Pathankot a day) however, instead of taking a taxi for 90km, take a train to Kangra Mandir (a 4:28h journey, leaving only 4 times throughout the morning/early afternoon). From Kangra, you can take a 40min taxi ride (35km) to reach Dharamshala.
Dharamsala: The Seat Of The Dalai Lama
When you arrive in Dharamsala, your path should lead you to the outskirts of the city to the village of Mcleod Ganj. Where the Tsuglagkhang Complex, home to the Dalai Lama, is located.
Here you will find the serene monastery nestled into the hillside where pilgrims from all over the world come to find peace. And understanding from the Dalai Lama Complex and learn of the Tibetan struggle in the Tibet Museum next door.
There are other sights worth seeing here as well these include the Norbulingka Institute, McLeod Ganj Market, Bhagsunag Falls, and Dal Lake.
Dharamsala → Mandi | Duration: 5:50-7:20h | Transfers: 0
There are a couple of direct bus connections to Mandi available when booking online at RedBus.
Mandi: Gateway To The Kullu Valley
The city of Mandi located in the Himachal Pradesh region sits at the entrance to the Kullu Valley.
If you like the Indian clothing style, you can buy all sorts of fabrics here while strolling through the bazaar.
Lake Rewalsar nearby, not only is the pilgrimage site of the believing Indians but is a spot held sacred for all Buddhists, Sikhs, and Hindus. The Victoria Suspension Bridge is within walking distance.
Mandi → Shimla | Duration: 4:45-6 h | Transfers: 0
There is a direct bus connection from Mandi to Shimla which can be booked on Redbus.
Shimla: Exploring Your Adventurous Side
Shimla is especially popular for its beautiful Himalayan mountains. From here there are numerous options for hikes in the area such as to Summer Hill or Jakhu Hill.
Motorcycle and rafting tours are offered in the warmer months and in the winter ski fields are accessible nearby.
Go for a walk on Mall Road or take a day trip to Kalka with the famous Kalka Shimla Train “Toy Train”.
Shimla → Delhi | Duration: 7 h | Transfers: 1
There are no direct train connections from Shimla but it is possible to reach Dehli by first getting a 1:15h taxi ride (85km) to Kalka where you can then catch a train to Dehli. The train connection to Dehli is offered 2-3 times a day, one in the morning and one or two in the evening (depending on the day).