Tatkal tickets are meant for last minute or immediate plans. It is the most sought after mode of booking tickets for train travel. 'Tatkal' literally means 'immediately'. Tatkal Booking starts one day in advance (reduced from 2 days) excluding the day of journey e.g. for a journey on 3rd, bookings would open at 10 am on 2nd; however, the day of journey is defined as the day of chart preparation. Accordingly, if the train starts on the 3rd of any month, and reaches the desired boarding station on 4th, the Tatkal booking will start on 2nd and not 3rd.
Tatkal tickets are booked through the government website (IRCTC - Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation), or through one's agent. In fact, according to the comScore and ASSOCHAM India report, IRCTC is the leading travel e-commerce site in the country with the highest transaction share in the travel category. Currently, it is said to sell about 40-45, 000 Tatkal railway tickets between 10 am and 11 am (its 10 and 11, because all tickets are sold in one hour - in fact, 45 mins), which it plans to spruce up to 60-65, 000 with the help of its new Rs. 10 crore drive for better, upgraded servers to 64GB RAM.
There are certain things that must be kept in mind while booking a tatkal ticket such as there will be thousands of people trying to book the tickets last minute. Therefore, one must keep their browsers open prior to when the tatkal timing starts (10 am) in order to gain access to the website. The IRCTC will be the most sluggish and slowest at this time and patience is key. Other than this, some other pointers are - there will be an extra charge on the tickets, an identity proof is a must while booking tatkal tickets (such as voter photo identity card/PAN card issued by the Income Tax Department/student ID card issued by the college or institution/Unique Identification Number - "Aadhar" etc.). One must remember that limited number of seats can be booked by this method.
In all, tatkal booking for train travel is the most convenient way to book tickets for the last minute travellers.
Cleartrip can ease your railway enquiry with its crisp and simple interface, and you will find it a pleasure to make your Indian Railway tatkal booking using this as well. In case of a sudden change of plans, it is equally easy to cancel your booking using Cleartrip too.