The Vistadome train experience | A guide for Vistadome train booking & travel

No more squabbles, no more tussels! 
Each of us had a window seat and yet we were next to each other!
Each of us could push back and relax and yet none had to get up to let the other out. 
It was the first time that the three of us sat together with the same comfort on a single journey with the Vistadome train. 

Swiveling seats, large windows, glass ceilings and cushioned comfort - the perfect set up for a live landscape journey 
This is what you will get when you travel on a Vistadome train in India

If you are anything like me, you will always be gunning for the window seat on a train journey. There might have been times when you have been lucky to have got one on the first go. And yet there will be some which might have left you wistfully looking over your co-passengers shoulder- attempting to get the view through the grilled windows of the train. Now imagine if those tiny windows are replaced by large glass panes and your seats conveniently designed to allow all the passengers to see through the glass! That is what the new Vistadome trains in India have to offer.

Traveling on a Vistadome train is quite an experience
Traveling on a Vistadome train is quite an experience

I first caught sight of the Vistadome train from Bangalore to Mangalore in the year 2021. The luxury seating train promised a surreal experience of the Western ghats – enough to put itself on top of my must-do train journeys. Naturally, at the first opportunity, I booked myself and my family for this experience – one that I highly recommend you try – at least once in India.

This guide is designed to help you plan your Vistadome train trip in India. I have put together a list of all the popular routes that have Vistadome coaches, how you can do your Vistadome train booking, what are the average Vistadome train ticket prices and what you can actually expect through your journey. Hopefully, that will answer all your questions and get you prepared for this unique train experience in India.

What is a Vistadome train?

Vistadome train is not a complete train but special coaches attached to a regular train
Vistadome train is not a complete train but special coaches attached to a regular train

Unlike the popular luxury trains like the Golden Chariot, Vistadome is not a complete train. It refers to special coaches that are attached to the regular trains. The Vistadome coaches have luxury seating (not berths) with large, clear windows that allow you to enjoy the amazing landscapes as the train chugs along. The seats can be swiveled 360 degrees, allowing you to face your co-passengers on either side as well as enjoy the window view.

The name of the train coach is based on this special facility that allows its travelers to enjoy the passing vistas. Naturally, it is not surprising to find these Vista Dome trains on some of the most scenic routes of India.

Which are the popular Vista dome train routes?

Currently, there are around 45 trains running in India that have Vista Dome coaches. These are spread across some really popular and scenic train routes. Here is a list along with my favorite part of the Vista Dome train routes.

  • Vistadome train from Bangalore to Mangalore – This runs from Yeswantpur to Mangalore. The Vistadome coaches are attached to three trains – Karwar express (Train number 16515/16), Mangalore express (Train number16539/40 & 16575/76) and Shivamoga express (Train number 16579/80). Each train runs on a particular day of the week but between the three, you have a chance to board the Vistadome train almost every day. The best part of this route is the Subramanyam ghats to Sakleshpur stretch where the train passes through the various tunnels of Western Ghats and overlooks the green valleys around those hills. During monsoons, you will be able to experience waterfalls, pretty close to the train as it enters the various tunnels
  • Vistadome train from Shimla to Kalka – There are two trains with Vistadome coaches on this route – the Shivalik Deluxe Express (Train number 52459/60)and Kalka Shimla Express (Train number 52453/54). Both the trains run every day between these two stations. This train route has been voted as one of the most scenic routes in India. During winters, you can actually experience the snow-covered Himalayas. With the Vistadome train, I imagine this journey would be a scene straight out of a Winter wonderland.
  • The Mumbai – Pune Vistadome train route – There are two Vistadome trains that run between Mumbai and Pune – Deccan Queen (Train number 12123/24) and Mumbai-Pune express (Train number 11007/08). Both the trains run on all days of the week. This is one route that I highly recommend during monsoons. That is when you will enjoy the waterfall-filled green vistas of Lonavala and Khandala.
  • Mumbai – Goa train route – The Madgaon Shatabdi Express (Train number 12051/52) from Mumbai allows you to experience not just the Western Ghat but the Konkan coast with its placid backwaters. Though the train runs every day of the week, it has the special Vistadome coaches only thrice in a week. Do keep this in mind when you are doing your Mumbai to Goa Vistadome train booking.
  • Vistadome train to Araku Valley – The Visakhapatnam – Kirandul Express (Train number 18551/52) with the special coaches is perfect to experience the green Araku Valley in the Eastern Ghats. The Vistadome coaches run only up to Araku Valley. The train is scheduled on all days of the week.
  • Vistadome train route from Mailani to Bichia in UP – The train is called Mailani – Bichia Special (MG Train number 05319/20) and passes through Dudhwa National Park. The train runs only on the weekends.
  • Alipurduar to Jalpaiguri Vistadome train – Yet another scenic route in India that takes you along the terraced tea estates and the Siliguri ranges. The Vistadome coaches are attached to the Alipurduar – New Jalpaiguri Express (Train number 15777/78) which runs every day of the week.
  • Tinsukia – Naharlagun route – A train journey from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh is perfect for those wanting to experience the surreal vistas of North-East India and what better than a Vistadome train. The Tinsukia Naharlagun Vistaexpress (Train number 15907/08) runs five days a week and has two of these glass coaches.
  • Vistadome trains from Ahmedabad to Statue of Unity in Kevadia – The Vistadome coaches are attached to the Shatabdi express (Train numbers – 20947/48 and 20949/50) that runs between Ahmedabad to Kevadia where the Statue of Unity is located. The trains are scheduled for all days of the week.
  • Bilimoria to Waghai train route – What used to be the toy train route of Gujarat now has a Vista dome coach too. This train (Train number – 09501/02 & 09071/72) runs every day and is perfect for that vacation that you are planning at Saputara. You can even visit the Waghai Botanical garden – Gujarat’s largest botanical park located near the station.
  • Mumbai – Gandhinagar Vistadome train route – This is the latest of the Vistadome trains in India. The Mumbai-Gandhinagar express (Train number 12009/10) that runs six days of the week has now got two of the Vistadomes, making this commute even more enjoyable.
  • Vistadome train to Haflong Yet another route through North East from Guwahati to Badarpur. The Badarpur Guwahati express (Train number 15887/88) runs twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

You will find the official Vistadome train list through this link. It also, has the updated train numbers

The kind eyes and the steely determination of Sardar Patel captured through this sculpture designed by Ram V. Sutar

All about the Statue of Unity and why you need to visit it?

Here is a complete guide to the World’s tallest statue in Kevadia, Gujarat – a place that you can visit using a Vistadome train. Read about what makes this visit truly worthwhile and how you can go about booking your tickets for it.

How to do a Vistadome train booking?

One of the things that I noticed about a Vistadome train booking is it is not straightforward. If you go to the IRCTC website and look for a Vista Dome train, you are unlikely to find the same. For one, as I mentioned, it isn’t an entire train but a coach attached to an existing train. The 2nd thing that will be very confusing is that once you have selected the train, you will not find a Vistadome coach or Vistadome seat under the berths or seating class section. Here is what you need to actually do –

How to book a seat in Vistadome train?
How to book a seat in Vistadome train?
  • Log in to your IRCTC account and search for the train that you plan to take. Use the above list of train routes to find your train number and train name.
  • Once you have found the train, note down your station name carefully. Some cities have more than one station which can get confusing. For example, the Bangalore to Mangalore Vistadome train runs between Yeswantpur and Mangalore Junction. Both the cities have more than one station and hence, it is important to note down the exact name and code for the booking. Keep in mind that not all the trains have Vistadome coaches from the start to finish. For example, Visakhapatnam – Kirandul Express has Vistadome coaches that are available only up to Araku Valley.
  • Next, go to the booking section and enter the train name and stations as well as your date of journey.
  • In the class or berth section, select AC chair car or Executive Chair Car. This is what Vistadome coaches are referred to in the booking system.
  • Finally, fill in your personal details and go to the payment section. This is where you will find your Vistadome train ticket prices – which are higher than the normal chair fees. You can refer to this IRCTC pdf for the Vistadome train ticket prices

The layout of a Vistadome coach

Swivel seats - the best feature of a Vista dome coach
Swivel seats – the best feature of a Vista dome coach

Large cushioned seats on a carpeted floor with huge windows on either side are what you will see when you first enter the Vistadome coach. Compared to the regular train coaches, the Vistadome compartment will strike you as bright and cheerful with natural light pouring in from the partial glass roof. The entire row swivels around with a lever, allowing you to face either end of the coach as well as the windows.

Each seat has its own foldable food tray along with an electric socket – making it super convenient for you to charge your gadgets. The seats also have a pushback option and a foot rest too – allowing you to recline into a semi lying position. The large windows are equipped with blinds. At the fag end of the coach, you have a standing area with large glasses covering half the space. This is where you can walk and get a good look at the Vistas as you pass by them.

A separate luggage area is provided in the Vistadome coaches
A separate luggage area is provided in the Vistadome coaches

There is a separate luggage area where you can deposit your belongings before you settle into your seat. The Vista dome train coach does not have an overhead storage area and given the nature of swivel seats, you cannot store your belongings under it either.

Each coach has two bio-toilets that are regularly cleaned by the staff on the train. The same staff is in charge of a pantry that has basic snacks, baked goodies, Maggi, soft drinks, and beverages like tea and coffee. These are available on a request and paid basis. The food is stocked up at almost all the main junctions and should you want a lunch or dinner option, you need to let the staff know in advance. In fact, they walk around before a major junction, taking down orders so that they can procure the meal for you when the train stops there.

My experience on the Vistadome train from Bangalore to Mangalore | A review of the Vistadome train

I did this journey on the Vistadome train from Mangalore to Yeswantpur via Karwar express in the month of March. Though the original plan was to do it both ways, certain circumstances restricted me to just a one-way experience. The travel time taken was around 10 hours and the on-train experience was pretty smooth. I got the best views in the stretch from Bisli ghats from Subramanya to Sakleshpur. Popularly called the green route, there are around 50 tunnels and bridges in this stretch

The view at Bisli ghats between Subramanya and Sakleshpur on the Vistadome train from Bangalore to Mangalore
The view at Bisli ghats between Subramanya and Sakleshpur on the Vistadome train from Bangalore to Mangalore

After Sakleshpur, you get a lot of green farms until you cross Hassan. Despite the beginning of summer, there were enough greens to gasp and enjoy. However, I promise you that you will get the best experience if you travel on the Vistadome train from Bangalore to Mangalore during the monsoons. I believe those ghats are filled with waterfalls, some of which will splash on your windows as you shuttle in and out of those tunnels.

The coaches are cleaned regularly even during the journey and the AC coach is comfortable to sit in. My biggest hassle was not the journey on the train but how one needs to do a Vistadome train booking. As I mentioned before, I had to look up a few sites and confirm and reconfirm to ensure that I had the right tickets. In your case, I have already tackled the same in the earlier section.

What is included in the Vistadome train ticket?

The Vistadome train prices can be found through this link. They are higher than the regular AC chair cars and the final fare will depend on your destination. In my case, my ticket price for a Vistadome journey from Mangalore to Bangalore was approximately INR 1400, inclusive of taxes and convenience fees. This ticket only includes your basic journey on the Vistadome coach. All your food and drinks are charged on actuals.

Common FAQS about Vistadome trains in India

Is it worth traveling on a Vistadome train?

Traveling on a Vistadome train is a very different experience from your usual train journey. Not only is it comfortable and luxurious, but quite pleasurable owing to the lovely views that you get through their large windows. It is definitely something the people must experience at least once.

How many Vistadome trains are there in India?

As per the last count, there are around 45 Vistadome trains in India.

How much do the Vistadome train tickets cost?

Vistadome train tickets are priced higher than the regular AC chair cars. The difference is around 1.1 times more than the usual fare. You can get the updated prices per km through this link.

Do Vistadome trains operate every day?

No. The Vistadome coaches in some trains operate only on certain days of the week. There are a few trains like Deccan Queen that have a Vista dome coach almost every day. It actually depends on the route and the train timetable on that route.

Do you get food on the Vistadome train in India?

Food on the Vistadome trains is available on a chargeable basis. One can prebook their lunch through the pantry on the coach. The meals are procured from major stations and offered to the passengers who have booked it. Payment needs to be done on the train itself. Vistadome coaches also, have their own pantry where one can buy ready-to-eat snacks, tea, coffee, soft drinks and Maggi.

Before you go, Pin this

Well, that concludes my guide on the Vistadome trains in India. I hope you have got a fair idea of how this works and what you can expect from it. Don’t forget to bookmark this post and if you like it, do share it around.

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4 thoughts on “The Vistadome train experience | A guide for Vistadome train booking & travel”

  1. This is truly a complete guide to the Vistadome experience. I did not know there are so many Vistadome routes. For anyone who likes train travel, this is a not-to-be-missed experience.

    Sakleshpur to Subramanaya Road has 55 tunnels. I counted it! This section has a gradient of 1:50. That is, in this 55 km stretch every 50 m that the train travels the track by rises (the elevation of the place) by 1 meter. Also, two diesel locomotives are used in this stretch.

    Reply
  2. Wow. Didn’t know there were so many other vistadome trains. Thank you for sharing such a detailed guide / info about the same.

    Reply

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