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Published: December 7th 2014
Kolhapur bound train
Absolutely unplanned! This is how I would describe my trip to Adarki (110 KM off Pune). Adarki is a very small village located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, on route to Kolhapur. Adarki has one of the sharpest curves (the horseshoe curve) on the Indian railway network and is very famous amongst the rail fans, and it is also a paradise for trekkers as it is surrounded by the Western ghats (the Sahyadri mountain range). Besides, I wanted to explore the Pune-Miraj meter gauge route that had been closed down after gauge conversion in 1972. The new broad gauge line is laid upon the old MG alignment which is why there are a lot of spectacular curves and steep gradients.
To trek this place, I was told to prepare at least a week prior but I had no plans until I reached there. On one of those mind-numbing weekends (weekends are boring until I embark on an adventure trip), I packed my backpack after abruptly deciding to go on an overnight trip, booked a waitlist second-class ticket on Mumbai-Pune Deccan Queen express and I was all set for an adventure. As I was about leave my house, I received a
A freight train crossing the picturesque Adarki
text from the Indian railways ticketing system stating that my second-class waitlist ticket has been upgraded to an air conditioned chair car. Oh No!! This was my first reaction. I was totally disappointed and very angry at the auto upgrade system introduced by the Indian railways. Upgrading to a higher class is a bliss for everybody but I hate luxurious travel. Upon reaching the train station, I even thought of asking the ticketing staff to downgrade my ticket to its original class but I figured out that it wouldn't be possible because the train was full. The Deccan Queen express is Indian railway's one of the most prestigious trains - first chugged out on June 1st, 1930. It is fast, has a very few stoppages and is clean and well maintained.
Led by a WCAM-3 class locomotive of Kalyan shed, the train departed on time at 5:10PM however, some reason it was held up for about 5 minutes immediately after departing. The run trough the suburbs of Mumbai was reasonably good with temporary speed restriction enforced, the train didn't even notch up to 90 KMPH for most of the time except at some places where it did cross 100 KMPH mark briefly. The train was running with a delay of about 30 minutes as a result of couple of long unscheduled stops however, surprisingly it reached its final destination, Pune Jn., mere 7 minutes late, thanks to some high speed and all clear run between Lonavala and Pune. From Pune, I boarded a connecting train bound for Satara - a distance of 145 KM. Upon reaching Satara around 2:30AM, I then board yet another connecting train bound of Adarki - a distance of 37 KM. For the first time, I traveled on a luggage compartment of a train. There was no light or fan, absolutely dark, deplorable but I loved traveling on it. I was accompanied by some scally looking guys who were apparently traveling to a nearby village of Lonand. They asked me all sorts of questions ranging from my whereabouts to my family. It didn't affright me at all but lack of sleep was making me stuporous.
I jumped off the train as soon as the train reached Adarki and went to a 'waiting hall' for a much needed sleep. The station manager was very kind as he turned off the lights and let me sleep for an hour.
The return journey to Mumbai was awful because I had boarded a super crowded train and for over 7 hours I couldn't move an inch as a result suffered from severe back pain and muscle cramps, and I was too tied and sleepy - standing by the door of fast moving train. I was lucky that I didn't fall off of the train despite almost sleeping away for a few minutes with a force of hundreds of people pushing me outside. The capacity of carriage was about 102 people however, there were definitely over 200 people inside that carriage and this was the same situation in almost all carriages of the train, except the locomotive hauling it. There were fights, people yelling on top of their voices, and complete chaos yet everybody reached their destination on time - the train was not even delayed by a minute. This is the beauty of the Indian railways, it may be the most uncomfortable way to travel for some people but it will ensure you reach your destination on time for most of the time and extremely cheap to travel. Besides, you meet a lot of people and learn from them about their cultures, language, etc., which is why I am absolutely proud to be an Indian railway enthusiast.
Tot: 0.045s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 10; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0113s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
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