The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge (GCIRC) 

A group of foreigners (mostly bloggers, India-fans and some Rail-fans), informally led by Mark Lester (of UK), was planning a 'crazy' two-week Circular Rail tour touching the four railway-corners of India. The crazy part was that it is a series of continuous train journeys, in 17 trains with no real stopovers; except 2 nights in Darjeeling. Mark added up all the Train distances as 12,116 KMs!

GCIRC - Google Map

GCIRC Route Map by Mark_Lester (Use cursor/zoom buttons at LH-Top corner) 

The GCIRC Team - 
Pic by 
Troy - read his hilarious blog here: The Dirty Dozen & A Half   

The Mt. Kanchenjunga massif looms large above Darjeeling skyline

A group of 16-17 foreigners (most were Travel-Bloggers, India-fans and a few Rail-fans), informally led by one Mark Lester (of UK), planned a 'crazy' two-week Circular Rail Tour touching the four railway corners of India. 

The crazy part - It was a series of continuous train journeys in 17 trains, over 16 days with no real stop-overs except for day-time sight-seeing in Dwarka, Amritsar, Udhampur, Delhi, Ledo, Tippong, Margerhita, Kolkata, Chennai, Rameswaram, Kanya-Kumari & Kovalam Beach.

Mark Lester's Route Map (click on image to enlarge)

In all 14 nights in trains and 2 nights at a hotel in Darjeeling. 
Mark added up the GCIRC Rail Kilometers to a huge 12,116 KMs!

I came across this plan in a Internet Travel Forum (IndiaMike) thread started by Mark, a year ago, and was slowly drawn into joining the GCIRC Tour! 

The GCIRC girls at Golden Temple ... Pic: by Troy Floyd

I was the only Indian who did the full tour. A few other Indians (4) joined for parts of this train routes.

And the tour got done successfully and ended in Panvel on 5th March, exactly as planned! What was most surprising is that each of those 17 trains started on time and arrived more-or-less on time, every time with maxm delay of 1 Hr! 
Sabaash .... Indian Railways!!

Bay of Bengal on Pamban Bridge .... to Rameswaram

Kovalam Beach, Kerala

And surprisingly, even though most people did different touristy things, during the breaks between trains nobody ever missed a train! (except one who retired hurt very early, due to delhi-belly).

My pictures and some video-clips as a Collection of 12 Sets are on Flickr here: MY-GCIRC 

And those 12 Sets can also be seen as slideshow by clicking the play buttons below:

The GCIRC T-Shirt 

The full party left from Bombay Central Station  on 18th February 2011 and after a clockwise tour around India over 16 days finished at Panvel (Mumbai) on 5th March 2011. 

Itinerary, Route, Map: Mark's GCIRC Blog

GCIRC Attendees: Participants

Live Blog Posts made during tour are here:

1. Mark Lester's BLOG
2. Troy Floyd's BLOG
3. Drew Gilbert's BLOG
4. Todd & Lauren's Globetrooper-Blog
5. Christine Gilbert's BLOG

This Pic by Troy appeared in TOI-Crest on Feb 26, 2011

In IndiaMike GCIRC discussions started way back in Oct-2009 and has been a long running thread with over 2000+ posts till date: IM-GCIRC 

In Facebook: FB-GCIRC 

As soon as we completed this tour there was this proposal for GCIRC-2 in March 2012. See that thread here: Second Annual Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge

Golden Temple with wonderful pink streaks in the sky

GCIRC Group at Eco-Lodge in Margerhita, Assam 

Rameswaram Temple - Long Corridors with 1000+Pillars

I will be adding sub-pages here with detailed diary notes and my impressions from this 16-day train tour. But that may happen only after June - 2011, when I will get some free time!