One of the most fascinating aspects of travel in India, are it’s extensive rail networks. And what better way to explore the diversity of the country, than by getting on board the longest train ride India has to offer.
Snaking it’s way from Kanyakumari at the southern tip to Dibrugarh in Assam in the Northeast, train no 15906 is eponymously named the Vivek Express after the revered Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda. Befitting moniker as well, since the Swami toured the Indian subcontinent extensively, wishing to understanding the conditions prevailing in British ruled India in the late 19th century.
National geographic photographer Matthieu Paley got on board the Vivek express and shared a photo essay of his experiences on the 5 day journey.
We accompany his camera as it captures the chaos in the second class compartments, the people for whom the train is a lifeline and for others, a source of employment; the food on offer during the journey and the variegated scenes across the country, as well as scenarios that you would be hard pressed to find in other rail networks across the globe.
The Indian railway network, introduced by the British as a way to bridge enormous distances; brought trade and commerce to distant lands as it did communicable diseases. The train is a throwback to those days and Paley dwells on the dwindling romance of this slow travel in our lives, amusingly evidenced in the way he gets time to wash his shirt in a stream, as the train makes an unscheduled stop in West Bengal.
Be sure to catch a glimpse of his work here.
The “What a beautiful world” blog series is my attempt to share stories of our world, captured in the form of photo essays and blogs by other photographers and writers.
Disclaimer: National Geographic and Matthieu Paley own all the respective copyrights to the photos and the article shared on this blog post.