Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Journey Back in Time

Genre: Travel & Adventure

Long ago in British India, there was a time when Metre Gauge trains ruled the roost. These trains, smaller and slower than the regular trains that we see today (but bigger and faster than the "hill railways" like Matheran) used to run in areas where it was either difficult to construct or economically unfeasible to run mainline trains. Slowly, under Project Unigauge, most of the important Metre Gauge lines all over India gave way to Broad Gauge mainlines and only a few remained, serving some obscure parts of rural India and even they are today on the verge on extinction.

Around two months ago a few crazy nuts decided to explore this fast-dying mode of transport before it gets completely extinct from India. After weeks of research, planning and confusion, we arrived at a final plan that would seem completely senseless and useless to others- but not us! We found that one of the most scenic Metre Gauge route runs from Akola in Maharashtra to Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh- a 433km, 13 hour journey crossing two beautiful hilly regions- Dhulghat and Patalpani Ghat, trespassing tribal areas untouched by the frantic pace of city life! Initially five of us from Mumbai were to undertake this adventure journey but eventually we were joined by four guys from Bangalore, two each from Madras and Secundrabad and one each from Vadodara and Aurangabad making it one helluva group of fifteen guys from six cities across India- united for a single "cause"!

Rather than describing in words, presenting a photo-documentary into the Journey Back in Time-

1. Ready..Steady..Go! The cute looking diesel locomotive gets ready to take our morning passenger train out from Akola Junction.

2. Just ten minutes prior to departure, a Ticket Checker came and manually christened one of the coaches in this fashion. Till then, we were totally clueless about the position of our coach in the train!

3. A villager kid enjoys the slow ride through the countryside. Seeing so many unusual people with cameras had him all the more excited!

4. Proceed! In the 21st Century, it is very rare to see these Semaphore signals (except in Hindi movies!)

5. Metre Gauge trains being narrower than normal mainline trains have seats on only one side. We, however found new ways to enjoy the view on both sides!

6. Breakfast Time! Delicious samosas and pakodas greet us at a wayside station
7. When two trains arrive simultaneously, its absolute chaos!

8. It's lunchtime folks! Hot Kachoris and sabzi at Khandwa.

9. We had been warned by many that we would get baked in the March heat of the plains of Madhya Pradesh.. but what greeted us was dark clouds, cool winds, thunder, lightning and drizzles! Believe it or not, this photo was taken at 1pm!

10. Savouring the rustic beauty as we slowly make our way through the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh.

11. Kalakund marks the begining of the beautiful Patalpani Ghats and it's time to get adventurous...

12. Chaiyya Chaiyya Time! Six of us get ready for a ride of a lifetime..

13. Smoking hard, we start the slow climb up the ghats- the villagers enjoy the tamasha as six first-timers accompeny them on the rooftop!

14. ..but not anymore. Now we are as much comfortable on the roof as they are!

15. The view from up here is simply amazing!!

16. Having spent ten hours on a route where few would dare to go, it's time to pose and celebrate the achievement at Mhow!

1654 kilometres, 42 hours of non-stop travel, 15 crazy nuts... one helluva trip!

Check out this video to get the real feel of things!


  1. oh man.. awesome! I've always been a sucker for MG :) Fantastic work!

  2. Awesome report, and may I know your name please? :-)

  3. Excellent! Loved the photo-blog post. As the saying goes, each picture said a thousand words and your captions rounded it off! Must have been one hell of an unforgettable trip. I'm turning green here in college ;-)

  4. Excellent report!!!!!!! You guys sure had some fun! Makes me all the more sad that I missed this wonderful opportunity!!

  5. @Sriram, Manish and Sagar

    Yeah, it was one helluva ride! How I wish you guys would have been there too.. more the merrier!

  6. @Sanket Malde

    Thanks for dropping by. I am glad you liked my report. As for my name, for the moment, I would appreciate if you know me as 'The Blue Indian' only. If you know me personally, you would be anyways knowing my real name! :)

  7. all i can say whn i see ur pics is wow wow wow... n the video is amazing. u guys are crazy abt the trains, n this jus took d craziness one step higher. awesome!!! one of these days i m goin to bug u to death abt takin me on one of these supercool trips. :)

  8. hey mr "blue indian" ( itching to reveal ur real name here for the benefit of some curious blokes :D )

    u truly deserve the crown of being my craziest friend and m proud of u n ur entire IRFCA gang. for coming up with such extraordinary trips tht r gonna bestow lifelong memories..

    n like everybody here above me.. m green with J too!

  9. @Ice Maiden

    Yeah, this time we took our craziness one step "higher" literally! :D

    And you are always welcome to join us on our adventures! :) Haven't I told you like a dozen times to join our gang!

  10. @Jagged Edge

    Thank You so much for conferring this title on me! :)

    Yes, this memories are gonna last lifelong!

    And you don't need to be jealous.. you are free to join us the next time we decide to go crazy! :)

  11. I should have joined u all for roof plating...missed my once in a lifetime chance for roofplating...cant imagine doing that in our high speed BRC-BCT sector:-)...but it was fun at Patalpani...coz the moment u stepped back on the earth the YDM-4 had its horn blaring...and we all had to run back to our coaches...

  12. I am sure I know you personally, from the BNC-2009 convention. From the blog, I cannot however figure out which railnut it belongs to, so please let me know. Email it to me if you are shy of revelaing your identity in public, although I see no reason why you should not be proud of your achievements :-)


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