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Summary:

I'm looking for the best photo-taking reasonably priced journey experience when travelling by land from Chennai to Pune in India.

This seems to leave a bus vs train choice.
Car travel options that I have seen seem to be very substantially more costly.
[Train 'sleeper' about $10!. AC sleeper compartment about $25 - $50. Buses sleeper or semi-sleeper around $40. Car - $hundreds ]

Detail:

I'm intending to fly to Chennai in India and then travel 'by land' to Pune - about 1100 km away. This is my first visit to India. My intention in travelling by land rather than flying to Pune is to get a first feel for the countryside. When travelling by bus or train I take many photos and I value being able to do so - dirty windows are a usually unavoidable hazard which I accept (although I have been known to clean the outside of a window by my seat :-) ).

I have been told that travelling by bus is liable to be far more arduous than by train. I have been told that the photo opportunities 'by train' will be about as good as 'by bus'. In other countries this is not always true. (eg in Malaysia the train runs for large distances through palm oil plantations with very few extended views - and these are mainly at road crossings where there is also a settlement.)

Indian travel sites indicate that the fastest land journey from Chennai to Pune is by express bus (about 20 hours) with the fastest trains taking slightly longer - which contradicts the "buses are a hassle" suggestions.

Web suggestions are that train windows may offer limited views in "AC" compartments. Buses may offer a photo advantage if a window seat can be obtained. However, if the buses run in low visibility highways a train may be better.

Does anyone have personal experiences to offer?


Resources:

" Make my trip" Chennai to Pune trains

90 degrees Chennai to Pune trains

India: classes of train travel

Photos of train interiors

5 cheapest buses Chennai to Pune 20 to 23 hours

5 fastest buses looks much the same

Route directions {by car}

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As an Indian, my recommendation is to choose the $50 (train) AC Sleeper or AC Ist class compartments. Trust me, you will be spared the onslaught of beggars and charlatans. You may not have an unobstructed view for photography but you can always disembark at stations. The flora and the fauna are not particularly interesting on this route. If you haven't traveled in/to India before, I think this would be the safer option. Have a good conference -- that I am sure will be fantastic! Chennai and pune are both nice cities, have a good time but be safe! Cheers! –  drN Jan 31 at 13:07
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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Train, hands down. It's the way to travel in India, unless you're in such a blazing hurry that you need to fly (and you don't appear to be). Trains are:

  1. cheaper, as you've already discovered, even in the AC sleeper class (you'll want to steer clear of non-AC as a first-timer in India)
  2. more comfortable, since the rails are smooth and you can move around the carriages, instead of being stuck in a bus over potholed Indian roads
  3. safer, since Indian roads are awful and your bus is liable to drive off a cliff and/or crash with some hopped-up long distance truck driver
  4. more predictable and hence likely faster, since trains are generally punctual (by Indian standards...), while roads often get jammed and journey times can vary greatly

And yes, trains will give you an uncensored view of the countryside, including lots of people using the trackside as a public toilet...

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And likely much steadier for out-the-window photography. –  WW. Jan 31 at 5:26
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Think train would be a better option. Buses might pass through cities and highways, which might not offer all the views you ar looking for. AC buses also have closed tinted windows and have less stops compared to trains. Trains do slowdown and stop during the journey, should give better photo-ops.

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I am from India and I live in India. –  user10211 Feb 1 at 2:31
    
thanks - I'll take notice of your advice then :-) +1 –  Russell McMahon Feb 2 at 4:43
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Chennai to pune is 1190 kms and it will take 15 to 16 hours .So its advise to take a train as 1st option.If train not available then think of a sleeper bus as that may be more comfortable to travel

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