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