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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Review of Executive Lounges at New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS)

During my recent trip to Uttarakhand, I was faced with a problem I had never encountered before. We were passing through Delhi, but we had hardly any time in the city. On earlier visits when I have had to change trains/flights at Delhi, I have always arrived in the morning and left again at night, visiting relatives in between. This time, I was arriving in the city at night, and leaving again early in the morning. There was hardly any time to visit people. I would only have a couple of hours with them before I’d have to leave again. For the first time, we considered booking a hotel, but there again, we were hesitant about the actual hotels, the costs involved, and the logistics of getting from the airport to the railway station and then back again from the station to the airport. 

That’s when we remembered reading something about a corporate-managed lounge at Delhi station. We soon figured out that we could book online and pay by the hour. Besides, we also learnt that there wasn’t just one, but that there were two lounges at New Delhi Railway station – one on platform number 1 and another on platform no16. So, we decided to experiment, and booked one lounge one way and the other for our return. So, here are my thoughts about the two lounges. 

Executive Lounge on Platform No. 1 

This lounge is located on platform no 1, the Paharganj side, on the first floor, near the retiring rooms and the offices of railway personnel. The entry is hidden near the entrance, though there are boards pointing the way. There are two lifts leading there, but the one which is visible doesn’t work, and the other is hidden, unobtrusively, and not visible to those who aren’t aware of its existence. 

However, once you get there, the lounge is superb. It can be compared to any airport lounge, and has more amenities than most airport lounges. There are comfortable single sofas with charging points with each one; there are clean washrooms and changing rooms, there are recliners and beds available at extra cost, and there is also food available at a charge. There is breakfast, lunch and dinner available at particular times, from 5 AM to midnight, and there is tea and coffee available round the clock. We had dinner there, and the food quality was excellent. Most importantly, there’s Wi-Fi. 

Pic from Railway minister's twitter feed

We underestimated the demand for beds, which are limited in number, and ended up missing on booking them. They cannot be booked online, only in person. When we arrived at the lounge around 10 PM, the lounge was fairly empty, but within about an hour, all beds were gone, and in another hour, the lounge itself was completely packed. It is not a great feeling to spend the night sitting on sofas, even if they are large enough for a short person like me to curl up in, but this is a far, far, better option than either sitting in the uncomfortable waiting room, or taking a cab to a hotel for a few short hours. 

Indeed, the best part about staying at the lounge was the easy accessibility to the metro. We used the metro both ways, between the airport and the station, and it was really convenient. There were only a few places where the escalators / lifts were not available or not working, and we had to climb stairs with our luggage.

Executive Lounge on Platform No. 16 

This lounge is located on platform no. 16, with the entrance on the ground floor, right at the entry point to the railway station on the Ajmeri Gate side. This lounge is far more easily visible to passengers as they enter the station. Besides, one can simply walk in, and we don’t need to climb any steps. On the ground floor are the sofas and the dining area, on the first floor there are beds and another area filled with chairs and sofas. There are washrooms and changing rooms on both floors. This is also more easily accessible, with its proximity to the metro station. It barely took us five minutes to get to the metro from here, even with all our luggage. 

The most striking difference between the two lounges are that they are managed by two different corporate groups. Besides, the one on platform no. 16 is the one which sees more passengers, which is evinced by the state of the sofas. Most inconvenient however, was the fact that there are only a few charging points on one wall. The beds though, have charging points next to them. 

This time around, we learnt from our mistake earlier, and booked the beds as soon as we arrived, and managed to get a few hours of good sleep before we had to rush to the airport for our flight. 

Both lounges are comfortable, but my vote goes to the one on platform no. 1 for its impeccable maintenance. As for convenience, the most important thing is that both are safe, especially for women like me who travel alone, and also for the ease of access to the metro station. It is more economically viable for single travellers or small groups. For larger groups, and for longer time periods, the charges multiply, and come on par with good hotels. 

The basic charge is Rs. 150 per hour, for a minimum of 2 hours, and additional hours cost Rs. 99 per hour. This includes free wifi and tea/coffee. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner is extra, and so are beds. Beds / recliners cost around 250 for 2 hours, and this is adjusted against the basic charge paid. The beds are clean and neat, and the sheets are changed regularly, and also on request. 

According to the IRCTC website, there are similar executive lounges at Madurai, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Agra Cantt, Jaipur and Sealdah. These can all be booked from IRCTC’s tourism site . All of them require a confirmed train ticket, since they are meant only for passengers of Indian Railways, so PNR is required for bookings. 

Photography is not allowed inside the lounges, and I was specifically asked not to, when I took out my camera. Hence, the photo in this post is from the net. The photo is from 2001, but it represents the lounge (on platform no. 1) as I saw it, in May 2023. Credit has been given in the caption.  


  1. Thanks for sharing this blog, Keep it up!


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