Are there any tricks to get one quickly?
There used to be many tricks available online but I think it's not worth looking at them now because lately I have had very good experiences while booking Tatkal tickets at IRCTC. I have heard the same from many of my friends. I mean the site has improved a lot so I don't think you will need any complicated tricks. But still you should follow the procedure described below just to make sure that you have a better chance of success.
Tatkal starts at 10:00 a.m. every day for the trains leaving the next day. Now let's say your actual journey date is 20/01/2015 and you want to go by 'X' train. So you will be doing this on 19/01/2015. Firstly you login before 10:00, like 9:45 would be ideal. Then you do a mock Tatkal booking for train 'X' leaving on 19/01/2015. In case 'X' departs early morning then select some other train leaving on 19/01/2015.
The whole point of this mock booking is to proceed till the payment gateway point so that you enter all the passenger details and also your identity card number (keep this ready beforehand, for more details on what ID cards are allowed see here). Now you will not be required to type anything when you actually do the booking at 10:00, just select your details that you filled during the mock booking, this saves a lot of time.
During the mock booking when you reach the point where you have filled everything (including your mobile number), you should press the
Replan button. Now you should again select your
To station and this time select the actual date i.e 20/01/2015.
Now you will be seeing the page with the list of trains which should also have train 'X'.
Then select the Tatkal radio button and click on the desired class of train 'X'. You will be presented with the total number of seats available on 'X' for that particular class in Tatkal quota but you can't book those yet because it's not yet 10:00. So you should be at this stage ideally just before 10:00, like 9:55.
Now all you have to do is wait, but you should periodically click something just to keep the page alive. What I do is toggle clicking between the class
3A/SL and just keep looking at the Available seats. The moment its 10:00 on their server you will see a blue colored link saying Book Now. Just click it and breeze through the passenger details on to the payment gateway and you will have your ticket before 10:05 :)
Is it possible to book a Tatkal ticket earlier than 2 days?
You can only book Tatkal tickets a day before your journey date. So if your journey date is 20/01/2015, you can book for this no earlier than 19/01/2015.
Are there any third parties selling Tatkal tickets outside the Station counter?
Tatkal tickets can only be booked at the dedicated counters provided by Indian Railways at selected railway stations or online at IRCTC website. Anyone booking Tatkal at the counter needs to provide a photocopy of their identity document.
So I cannot say for sure there is no third party selling Tatkal tickets outside counters but I find it difficult to understand how anyone can book on your behalf considering that your ID proof is required at the time of booking. Also I have walked past these counters often, I have never seen anyone buying or selling from any third party.