Scenic rail trips -- Kangra Valley Railroad and others

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#1 Aug 7th, 2003, 00:44
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#1
The Kangra Valley RR is a narrow gauge line running from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar via Kangra, Palampur, and Baijnath through what sounds like an exceptionally scenic route, though I haven't travelled it myself. There is a very interesting report of a recent trip on this line by a member of the Indian Railway forum which might be of interest to railway buffs:

http://www.irsuggestions.org/asplist...1.asp?Id=43018

Has anyone here taken this train? comments?

Does anyone have any other interesting, perhaps little-known, rail trips to share?
#2 Oct 6th, 2003, 15:48
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#2
I have also heard the Kangra Valley Railway trip is very scenic.

The link provided by -m2- no longer works, try the following link instead.

INTO THE KANGRA BY RAIL by Dileep Prakash (this link no longer works, I will try to find another.)

Click here for timetables for the Kangra Valley Railway, and trains linking Pathankot with Delhi and Amritsar.
Last edited by steven_ber; Feb 5th, 2004 at 15:13..
#3 Oct 6th, 2003, 17:01
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#3

Shimoga Town - Talguppa

Shimoga-Talguppa Rail Bus

From: Ranganath Eunny.

The Bull Run

Deep in the Rain forests of Malanad (Rain-Land) lies the magnificent Jog Falls, the highest one in India. One fine morning, I decided that I wanted to see it. I took an overnight express that reached Shimoga at 5 AM.

A little known, quaint and tiny piece of machinery leaves Shimoga every morning at 6 AM, except Sundays. It takes three hours through eight little stations to cover 75 km of the Western Ghats. Through lush forest and vegetation, it goes all the way to Talaguppa. Talaguppa is about 9 miles from Jog Falls. This little thing is an old Ashok Leyland rail bus that used to run between Yelahanka and Whitefield in the days of metre gauge.

The rail bus consists of two small-articulated coaches with the engine and the controls placed at end of one coach. This tiny fellow accommodates 57 passengers. They comprised mostly of the hinterland gentry with all the rural paraphernalia, including coconut saplings. The ticket cost 20 rupees, much cheaper than the bus fare.

At six, a guard arrived from nowhere, wearing a crisp white suit and a peaked cap with two neat flags in his hand. He blew a sharp whistle and waved the flag.a mere tradition, since the guard could as well speak the signal to the driver.so small being the train. The next moment, the bus created quite a ruckus as it charged ahead, like a bull picking up speed in no time. All kinds of noises erupted.snorts, bellows, creaks, shudders, rattles, crashes...and vibrations! And I coined the term The Bull Run.

This tiny fellow was the sole lord of the track he used. The tracks were more than 100 years old and did not have a loop line anywhere in the run. The British had built it for the purpose of being a ferry line for the dam being constructed at Linganmakki. The Bull rocked and rolled and charged ahead into one of the loveliest countryside I had ever seen.

This was Malanad, a rain-fed, green country. The recent rains left a cover of wetness on the earth and all the greenery making it colorful and pleasant. The Bull ran through virgin rain forests full of deciduous trees covered with moss and lichen. The little hamlets with tiled huts added an earthy touch to the scene. The countryside was interspersed with thick woods and lush fields looking like golf courses Boy! This was beautiful India. Small stations had passed, with the Bull making short halts, enroute.. People somehow filled up this train and it ran full all the time. A cheap and efficient service was what it provided to these good folk. Everybody on the train knew everybody including the guard and the drivers and there was always a bonhomie exchange of niceties.

At seven, we rolled into a small station called Kenchanahalli. This was a typical one-horse town with a small platform and a tiny station house. The Bull halted just after a small level crossing that was probably used by bullock carts and two wheelers. Here I followed guard and the drivers went across the track to a small tea stall and sipped some fine tea on a cool misty morning. So small is this railway and so insignificant that, there are no amenities or hawkers all along the route. The stations are just heaps of earth lined with flagstones or cement embankments.

It was an earthy combination, a small train, a green countryside, beautiful rural folk and picturesque villages. Anandapuram was a bigger station. It had a neat and old station house. Just beside it were lush green paddy fields. The Adderi station housed trees of teak and jackfruit. Balegudi was my favourite. It was a small station with a tiny station house dwarfed by a number of huge teak trees. The ground was covered with lichen. There was no road to it. The station was always there, never changed and never grew. It stood still in time as if nature had stopped metamorphosing. A rural peasant boarded the train here. A young lad got down and retrieved his bicycle from nowhere and disappeared. The soft wind swished about before being subdued by the Bull's charge. Having been in cities all my life, this little moment was a special one and would be etched in my memories.

After two and half-hours the Bull rolled into Sagar, a major town of Malnad. Sagar had a decent platform and the station had a Station Master and a compliment of staff. The bus looked odd on the tracks here where the platform was meant for a larger train. Practically all of the folks in the train alighted here and went out. The Bull started 10 minutes later, almost empty. Instead of speeding up, it ambled on lazily for the last 8 kms of run.

At Kannale, I saw something that summed up the quaintness of this lovely railway. Kannale was unlike the other stations, devoid of any vegetation and lay on a plain. The platform was a mound of earth and the miniscule station house was a ruin. On the platform stood a man clad in a soiled vest and a faded red lungi, looking every bit like a mistry on a construction site. He was beckoning a couple of people far away to hurry up as he chatted up the driver. Once the people neared him, he pulled out a neat bundle of tickets, handed them each one ticket, collected the money and bid them a goodbye as they boarded the railbus. He was the one-man station-master-cum-staff of Kannale. I had traveled the length and breadth of Indian Railways. Never had I seen a lungi-banian clad Stationmaster before.

At 9 am, the Bull finally rolled into the 100-year-old tree-lined Talaguppa station, one of the cutest ones I had seen. This, apart from Shimoga, had the only loop on the line.to reverse the bus. At the end of the station where the tracks terminated was a tiny and cute turntable. This was used to turn the engine of the bus around for his onward journey.

In pockets of India, there exist many stations and routes like this one, that are devoid of any attention, but continue to charm the people on their own with their quaint ways. The Talaguppa -Shimoga line will soon vanish thanks to the Project Unigauge. Or it may go into disuse and obsolescence. But as long as it exists, the railbus, those little stations, the green country and the gentlefolk who dwell here shall always delight any traveller.



Ranganath
------------------------------------------------------

Bangalore - Shimoga Town - Talguppa (Jog Falls) - train information.
Last edited by steven_ber; Oct 17th, 2003 at 09:27..
#4 Oct 6th, 2003, 17:25
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#4
Sounds like heaven! It is too sad all these quaint little lines have largely disappeared or are disappearing.
#5 Oct 18th, 2003, 06:55
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Thanks for the update on the Kangra Valley line, Steven, I should have mentioned that it could be useful for someone headed to Dharmsala that wasn't in a hurry -- and for the schedule too, I didn't notice it earlier.

That's a great railway report!! I've driven around Coorg a bit on a motorcycle and it's definitely one of the prettiest parts of the country and really good for driving too. Shame those old rr's are dying, though.
#6 Oct 18th, 2003, 08:09
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#6
Travelling by train is one of the best experiences especially those covering long distances ...
You see the surroundings change, and maybe meet lots of interesting people on the Train.
#7 Nov 15th, 2003, 19:51
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#7

Unhappy Kangra Queen tourist train no longer running.

The train service on the Kangra Valley Railway is still running normally, there used to be a luxury tourist train called the Kangra Queen, I have just found out that this service unfortunately stopped last year, as virtually nobody was using it, it's a pity, it looked like a great way to travel.

Below is the information I have just deleted from the 'Train Information' thread, hopefully one day it will start up again, I wonder what the carriages are being used for now.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Kangra Queen - Special Train (no longer running)

A photo of one of the carraiges of the Kangra Queen

This tourist train departs Pathankot at 08:20, gets to Kangra at 11:41, and terminates at Palampur at 12:55.

The return journey departs Palampur at 13:45, departs Kangra at about 14:40 and arrives at Pathankot at 18:05.

Fares from Pathankot for this train are as follows:

FC to Kangra = Rs 265, to Palampur = Rs 330.
CC to Kangra = Rs 245, to Palampur = Rs 310.
II to Kangra = Rs 155, to Palampur = Rs 190.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
#8 Nov 16th, 2003, 02:54
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I have been thinking for some time that a trip to just travel on trains would be interesting, I too love trains and will give anything to travel by steam (I did once when the diesel broke down on the Jaipur run). So I have started a listing of my own of all the really good trains in India and this one is the first in the list!
I think I could easily fill in a six month visa just travelling around on trains.
Has anyone done something like this? I will probably find Steven has it already worked out, would anyone be interested in planning (and executing) a trip like this?
#9 Nov 16th, 2003, 03:41
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I will try and compile a list of scenic rail journeys in India, but most will be from recommendations or things I've found out over the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, I have nothing written down or saved on the PC, I will try to write them down at work and post on this thread sometime in the week.

I think I've only been on 2 steam trains in my life, I think I went on a steam train at the Beamish Museum (northern England) when I was about 6 or 7, then the Blue Mountain Railway to Ooty in Tamil Nadu a couple of years ago, I was so in awe of the scenery and of India itself, that I didn't even realise the train was steam hauled until we reached Ooty.
#10 Nov 16th, 2003, 09:26
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I'm STILL picking coal bits out of my hair and teeth from back in the days of meter gauge and steam! Schedules were not worth the paper they were printed upon, reservations were done in longhand Victorian booking style, tickets were hand-stamped, and the asst. stn master was the God of Sleeper births!
It was a mess, but there was a lot more 1non-AC compartments, and was the best way to see India, IMHO. Even better than the alternative, as what passed for "luxury coaches" as busses were strictly for the deaf and suidical, and roads were a euphemism for monsoon catchment basins.
Mostly swept away by progress, I reckon. I'll never forget it, though
BiJ
#11 Nov 16th, 2003, 13:40
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#11
Steven, I would really appreciate any help you can offer, I eMailed Alan_D today telling him of my proposal, I hope to do some research in the next week or so, other than read the LP!!
#12 Nov 16th, 2003, 19:38
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#12
This month's issue of Jet Airways travel magazine had a series of articles on all of India's scenic rail routes; I should have asked for a copy as I'm sure they would have been happy to oblige. Perhaps anyone interested could request a copy by e-mail from their PR dept.
#13 Nov 16th, 2003, 23:17
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#13

Kangra train

I fancied the Kangra valley trrip after I read about it in Footprints India Handbook. We got round to it about 5 years ago, fitting it between Hardwar and Dharamsala.

WE took the overnight train from Hardwar to Pathenkot. Our carriage was left in a siding in the middle of nowhere at midnight to for a couple of hours wait to couple up to the Delhi - Jammu express. Arrived in Pathankot around 8am.

The narrow gauge train itself left late morning was packed out in second class. I can't remember if there was a first class. With it's small carriages folk had a bit of a struggle to get to the door. The scenery was good but not as spectacular as the Nilgiri or Darjeeling trains.

The main thing that stuck in my mind was at one halt there was a woman operating the points/signals. At the same stop I also noticed that they used the old token system (a large metal hoop) to avoid the up and down trains being on the same stretch of line at the same time. In practice the engine driver was not allowed on the line unless he had been handed the hoop by the signalman/woman, then handing it in further down the line. I'm sure this must also be done elsewhere but i can't recall ever seeing it before or since.

We detrained late afternoon at Kangra. It was a fair walk into town so we took an auto ricki. Two buses later saw us in McLeod Ganj at about nine at night.

The journey cost :
Trains Rs.172 Hardwar to Kanga
Buses Rs 25 (Rs20 Kangra to Dharamasala, Rs.5 on to McLeod Ganj)

That Bull train to Jog Falls sounds a hoot and I will certainly pencil it for the future.
#14 Nov 17th, 2003, 12:10
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Colin.

A good site for hill railways is http://www.luxury-train-travel-tours-india.com/

A good site for info about hill stations is http://www.indiantravelportal.com/hillstations/
#15 Nov 23rd, 2003, 15:50
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Probably the most scenic journey in India is ANY journey in Sleeper Class, but for anyone like myself, who likes to also look at the outside world, I will start a list of scenic journeys, hopefully others will add to it.

Most on the list have been recommended to me by others, there are daytime trains on all routes, though you will not find them all on http://www.indianrail.gov.in/ or in ‘Trains at a Glance’, reply to this thread if you want details of train times.

Trivandrum – Quilon, others may disagree with this one, there always seemed to be something to see, I got a feeling we were almost going through peoples gardens for large parts of this journey, I was mostly looking east.

Ernakulam (Cochin) – Quilon (via Alleppey), Coast & lake views.

Quilon – Tenkasi Jn, part of the journey goes through the southern Cardamom Hills.

Mettupalaiyam – Ooty , one of India’s famous mountain ‘toy’ trains, still steam hauled and awesome scenery.

Salem – Bangalore, large parts of this journey go through the Shevaroy hills and the Melagiri hills.

Mysore - Bangalore, again, others may disagree, my favourite train journey in India to date. (Mostly looking south).

Calicut – Madgaon (Goa), this route is close to the coast and has been recommended to me by a number of people.

Shimoga Town – Talguppa, see post 3 above.

Hassan – Mangalore, the broad gauge conversion of this track through the Western Ghats will not be completed until the end of December 2004, it will then provide easy access from Bangalore/Mysore to the Malabar Coast.

Madgaon – Londa, on the Goa – Hospet (Hampi) route, passing by Dudhsagar falls and through the Western Ghats.

Madgaon – Mumbai , those who take an overnight train on this section do not realise what they are missing, it is an awesome journey through the Western Ghats, it makes you realise just how isolated Goa must have been in the past, I travelled this route in the monsoon season and lost count of the number of waterfalls I saw, post-British Indian Railways greatest achievement.

Mumbai – Pune, the commuter run through the outskirts of Mumbai and through the hills.

Neral – Matheran, another toy train through the hills.

Guntakal – Guntur (the section between Dhone & Cumbum), I’ve been told this is a very scenic journey through the Eastern Ghats.

Visakhapatnam – Koraput - Kirandul (via Araku Valley), this journey was so highly recommended to me, that I feel guilty leaving it out of my next trip, through hills and dense forests, past caves and waterfalls, in an area of India virtually untouched by foreign tourists, but for how long?

Koraput – Rayagada, a journey through the hills to reach the Visakhapatnam – Koraput – Kirandul line.

Brahmapur – Bhubaneshwar, this part of the Chennai – Howrah (Calcutta) route passes along some hills and the Chilika Lake.

Siliguri Town – Darjeeling , said by many to be the most scenic rail journey in the world, I shake my head in disbelief whenever I see people recommending the shorter bus journey up to Darjeeling, this railway runs at a loss and has a chance of closing for good in the next few years, I have not been to this part of India (I’m going this winter) so my comments are probably unfair, however, from what I’ve read and saw on video, I fail to see how people could understand what Darjeeling is all about unless they go there by train. (OK, rant over).

Anything east of New Jalpaiguri (Siliguri), there are about 2500 km of track east of Siliguri, to the north they have the Himalayan Mountains, to the south they have hills and mountains, in the middle they have the mighty Bramaputra River, and many tea growing estates, and lots of National Parks, it is hard to imagine any of these train journeys being anything other than scenic, the journey from Lumding going south passes through Haflong in the Barail Range, it is said to be particularly scenic, this line is being slowly extended to Agartala.

Mudkhed – Adilabad – Tadali, another line recommended to me as a scenic journey though hills.

Purna – Akola – Khandhwa – Indore – Ratlam – Chittaurgarh – Ajmer - Jaipur, the longest metre gauge route left in India, though the southern end will be converted to broad gauge soon, there are many sections on this route that are said to be scenic.

Ahmedabad – Udaipur, this is said to be a scenic journey through the hills.

Udaipur – Marwar, another journey through hills that came recommended from a member of this site.

Kalka - Shimla , the famous train route to Shimla, has 103 tunnels, over 800 bridges, and 900 bends.

Pathankot – Kangra (for Dharamsala) – Joginder Nagar , also see posts 1 + 2 above.

Jammu – Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramula, OK, it’s not finished yet, but promises to be a spectacular journey through the hills, the line to Udhampur will be operational sometime in March 2004, the line to Baramula will take a year or more to complete.

There are many more branch lines in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra that are said to be scenic journeys, but too many to list.

If you have had a scenic train journey, please add it too this list.
Last edited by steven_ber; Apr 24th, 2005 at 03:00..
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