Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#MyTrainStory - I Saw God in a Hoodie

This would normally be considered as the Hood of God:

However, I am referring to God in a Hoodie. More specifically - in a Raincoat Hoodie which looks more like this:

I was in the Maharashtra section of the Western Ghats for 2 days in July, 2016. One of the objectives of being there was to take a photo of a train traversing through the Bhor Ghat in the Monsoon. After a lot of asking around I was shown - what the locals considered to be one of the best spots to see a train climbing up the Ghat. The spot may have been perfect but I could not even see the track through the heavy mist, low clouds and lashing rain. I did not even know the direction in which to look for the track - it was so densely misty. The weather had been very bad through the 2 days I spent here. This was my last chance to get lucky!

The vantage spot was just behind a small and old temple (said to be about 600 years old) called the Waghjai Temple. Waghjai is possibly the local representation of Goddess Durga.I left my vantage point and went to the temple. I prayed to the Goddess to be given a chance to photograph this old scene from my mind's eye. I then returned to the same vantage point.

As I was on the way to the vantage point I saw a man - in a raincoat hoodie. He had trekked up to the spot where I was from a lower point on the ghat. I asked him if was local and if he could help me. He said he was not local but could help. I asked him for the direction in which to look to see the railway track on Bhor Ghat. He pointed out and said 'look in that direction!' The direction that he pointed out had no visibility of even the hill - the railway track was just a molehill in comparison. I then thought that my prayer needed to work to clear the weather and place a train on the track.

The man in the hoodie then said, "I can hear the hooting of a train!". I quickly set-up my camera and looked up. As I looked up the weather had cleared completely over the area that I wanted visibility and I got a splendid view of the Bhor Ghat with a Python of the Indian Railway (as long goods trains are called) emerging from Tunnel No. 48.

(Click on the photo to enlarge: The Train emerging from Tunnel No.48)

The rain had also stopped. I shot about 10 images in the next two or three minutes as the train emerged from the tunnel stayed in clear view for a short while and then disappeared into the mist. The mountains got cloaked once again by low hanging clouds and it started pouring again.

(Click on the photo to enlarge: The Train on Bhor Ghat)

Sagar Billimoria ( he mentioned his name in the very brief conversation between the train emerging from the tunnel and disappearing into the misty mountains) was nowhere to be seen.

If it wasn't God, it was certainly God's messenger in a hoodie.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Behind Closed Doors

A Great Train Journey #MyTrainStory

There are some train journeys where you need a window seat in a second class coach. When travelling through excellent weather and a great countryside, one needs wind-in-the-hair, not glass-on-the-face!  This is exactly what I did on the Sakleshpur - Subramanya Road route.

This is Train No. 16523 - Bangalore-Karwar Express. This train travels through lush greenery. The route turns spectacularly scenic between Sakleshpur and Subhramanya Road railway stations. Here, the train is about to approach Hassan which is a stop before Sakleshpur.

As Sakleshpur approaches, those who don't have a window seat move to the door so as not to miss this window of opportunity to traverse along one one India's most spectacular railway route.

The tracks are winding. It's green here but this will get spectacularly green is some time.

Here you can see Electricity Development Company's (EDCL) Hassan Wind Mill project which generates about 1.5 MW of Wind Power

The last straight stretch of track before the train reaches Sakleshpur - from where the ghat section begins

Sakleshpur railway station finally. It was a single WDP Engine which pulled the train till Sakleshpur. From here, this will be a hydra-headed - three engined train. The additional 2 engines are required to provide additional braking power to the train as it head downhill on the ghat tracks.While travelling back, from Subramanya Road, 2 engines will be attached at the back of the train to push the train upto Sakleshpur. 

The Ghat section commenced immediately after Sakleshpur. From here till Subramanya Road the train will traverse through some of the most scenic routes of the Indian Railways

The 55-km-long ghat section between  Sakleshpur  and Subramanya Road is a trip through the nature’s creations  as well as resourceful engineering. There are 670 bridges including 91 major bridges, with the Ghat section alone having 110 curves and 57 tunnels.

Another of the never ending bridges on the track

Though dense forests with the trees forming a natural green tunnel

It still mystifies me how the train always decides, correctly, whether or not to take the rail less travelled!

At Sakleshpur the train is at an altitude of 906 meters. From here it descends to 120 meters above sea level when it reaches Subramanaya Road station

There are so many twists and turns on the track.So many twists and turns on the tracks that one doesn't know whether to go to the left or right for the best view!

It is sometimes giddying to even look out as the train passes over a viaduct

While this via duct is tall, the third tallest viaduct in Asia is the Panaval viaduct in the Konkan railway route in the Ratnagiri district

Before the train is out of one tunnel, it dives headlong into the next!

Such stunning views from the train!

Several dozen waterfalls along the route drenches the trains and those standing near the doors for
a good view 

Even in the remotest of locations, there is someone on the job to flag the train. His absence would require one to raise the red flag!

Over crystal clear streams

Not light, but I half expected Phantom (The Ghost Who Walks) at the end of the tunnel!

No Phantom! Only light at the end of the tunnel!  This certainly qualifies as one of the most scenic railway routes in India!