Showing posts from August, 2009

Garib Yathra: To Bangalore and back... Part-II

As the purpose of my visit to Bangalore comes to a good end, it was time to begin the pursuit for the return ticket. Be it a weekend or a weekday, getting a ticket from Bangalore to Kerala is a task in itself. Fortunately, on three days of the week, a very good alternative is available - in the form of the Yeshwantpur - Kochuveli Garib Rath. With over 1200 AC berths, the train is a real cheap alternative, that one could actually walk into. Over 400 berths were available on this train (#2257) and one was booked quickly. My request for a lower berth went through, and was allotted berth #16 (Lower) in coach G13.

The Garib Rath departs at 2100 from Yeshwantpur, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. However, a mis-understanding meant that I believed the departure time to be 2130. Accordingly, started from home at around 1900. I was at the wheels, driving a Toyota Innova. Thankfully, the traffic on the road kept flowing, without much hiccups. Driving through Bangalore's traffic during even…

Aana Vandi - a new blog for the KSRTC Lovers

KSRTC, or Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is a charming little transport corporation. Though much older than most other state run road transport corporations, KSRTC is a small organisation, that concentrates more on providing basic transport solutions to the weaker sections of the society.

Expressing my love for the corporation, and to disseminate more information on this lesser known company, Here I present another blog for all my beloved patrons. Here comes Aana Vandi. Click here to visit this blog. Do drop in to get more information on KSRTC.

Be aware that the blog is just being put together and hence more information would be added soon. Remember to bookmark the page, you might just require it in the future :)

The First Class experience...

Unfurling a new stage in my life also presented a gigantic challenge – getting some papers from the University of Mumbai as well as my old college. Well, one might as what was the challenge in these. Here is the catch – I was conveyed this need on a Wednesday evening, and the papers had to be in town on Monday. However, the challenges were quickly met and a way to reach Mumbai by Friday morning – by train – was quickly finalised.

At the end of a tiring search for trains and ticket, I left home at around 2030. Getting a bus from my home to the nearest town is another challenge, in itself, especially if the time is past 2000. A bus turned up after about 7 minutes of anxious wait. The bus short-terminated before the scheduled bus terminus – as luck favours, the bus stopped right near the place where I would get my onward connection. The wait for the onward connection was even longer – about 20 minutes. A private bus heading to Parur turned up – a passenger waiting at the bus stop asked if…

Garib Yathra: To Bangalore and back... Part-I

A journey to Bangalore, from my new base - Kodungallur in Kerala - was on the cards for a long time. Road journey was ruled out at the beginning itself, and the ever overflowing trains were the only option. The only train that could provide seats at the last moment, was the iconic Garib Rath. A decision to head to Bangalore was finalised post noon on Thursday, August 13, 2009. Headed straight to the booking counter a while past evening, to find an absolutely deserted booking office - at Ernakulam North Station. Booking a ticket took just under 5 minutes, compared to over 90 minutes at Thrissur on all occasions.

The Kochuveli - Yeswantpur Garib Rath Express (#2258) is a triweekly train, and runs at obscure timings (departs Kochuveli at 2000 and arrives Yeswantpur at 1130). This train is usually sparsely occupied, and getting tickets is pretty easy. This time too, there were more than 330 seats still vacant - against a total capacity of 1248 seats. (The train has 16 AC Sleeper coaches, e…

Onam is around the corner!!!

The most celebrated festival in Kerala - Onam is now just 10 days away. Onam, a festival to celebrate paddy harvesting, is believed to be the day when the mythical ruler of Kerala - Mahabali - visits his old subjects. History says it that Mahabali was a very generous king, and his rule had evoked jealousy even among gods. It is said that during Mahabali's rule, there were thieves and the country was at its height of prosperity. Mahabali was banished from the world by Vamanan, and he was given the rights to visit his subjects each year.

Astrologically, Onam is celebrated on the day marked by Thiruvonam star in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The first day of Chingam is also celebrated by some sections as the Malayalam New year. As a sign of welcoming the erstwhile ruler of the land, households would decorate their doorsteps with floral designs, called as Pookkalam, locally. Onam is always on the tenth day from the day marked by Atham star in the Malayalam month of Chingam. Floral De…

The Poor man's way to travel...

Airconditioned train travel was always away from the reach of most common men in the country, before 2006. The then railway minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, announced a revolutionary concept, to bring AC travel to the masses. Garib Rath, or Poor man's Chariot, was introduced during the railway budget in 2006. The first Garib Rath in the country was run between Saharsa (in Bihar) and Amritsar (in Punjab). The train was flagged off on October 4, 2006. What was revolutionary in these trains was the fact that the fare was much lower than AC coaches in normal trains.

Garib Rath trains have high-capacity AC coaches (Sleeper and sitting). Sleeper coaches accomodate 78 passengers (compared to 64 in normal AC 3-Tier coaches), while Sitting coaches can take in 108 passengers (compared to 71 in normal AC Chair Car coaches). The increase in number berths (in AC Sleeper coaches) has been achieved by slightly reducing the width of coaches, reducing leg space, and removing space wasted for linen stor…

On a quick trip to Bangalore

Ever since I quit my job in June this year, I had been on my toes traveling to different parts of the country (on various reasons). After about being in the air for about two months, my new base has now been fixed. I have relocated to Kerala (my very own hometown, in Kodungallur) effective this August. As part of the shifting process, I returned to Bangalore.
I reached Bangalore on Independence Day (August 15, 2009) afternoon, and would return today night. I arrived by 2258 Garib Rath, and returning by its pair - 2257 Garib Rath Express. During my stay in Bangalore, did some railfanning and some busfanning. (Expect to put up some reports in the coming days).
The city welcomed with its trademark cold climate, a welcome change from the furnace that Kerala was over the past weeks (thanks to the failed monsoon). I now hope to have a blast in Kerala. More reports as I reach back at home (tomorrow morning).

The First let down...

Breakdowns are not a rarity on state run transport corporations. In most cases, the tyre is to be blamed, while in some cases it could be the engine. However, Kerala SRTC has never ever let me down, and not a single time has my bus broken down. Things were all set to be different yesterday. I and my dad were heading to Ernakulam yesterday morning, and we were on board an old model bus. The bus (TP373 of Guruvayur depot) was all fine when it started from Kodungallur. I got my favorite seat up-front, near the driver.

All fine, as we started from Parur depot. The bus was crowded to the maximum now, and there was no space for new passengers. However, that being at peak hours (the time was sometime around 0745 now), there were lots of passengers at each stop. I could hear some rattling from the rear axle all the time, and felt it was something normal with the bus. We rattle picked up strength every time the bus went above 40kmph, and gets pronounced as he approaches 60kmph. The driver did n…

A very quick trip to Mumbai

Wednesday (August 05, 2009) presented a new demand to me - a visit to Mumbai. A huge list of works to be done in Mumbai - the fact that I had to be back in Kerala on Monday meant that this was no simple job to be done. The time was already past 1700 hours. Most of the direct trains to Mumbai had already departed by then, and the only remaining one already had closed reservations. Now began the hunt for alternate connections - the deadline of reaching back on Monday was making things difficult, given the fact that all I had was one day - Friday (Satuday, being the second one this month, was a holiday).

Matsyagandha Express (that runs between Mangalore and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus) was quickly zeroed in, and it had plenty of seats. I made a reservation quickly, without thinking how would I reach there. Now the hunt for trains to reach Mangalore began - those trains too had closed reservations. Road journey was completely ruled out - for the lack of proper connections. Finally, I decided t…

A rainsoaked journey...

Monsoons is sometimes the best season for a journey - but it often is not. Kerala's State Transport buses are often praised - and very often cursed - for using shutters for windows instead of sliding glass windows that are now a norm in most states. The shutters, made of rexine and metal bits, allow uninterrupted flow of air, when they are opened. However, during a rain, a shutter can be a torture.

In one of my earlier posts, I remember having praised KSRTC for its decision to retain the shutters (a statement, that I often regret making). On a very recent journey (which would form the nucleus of this post), I almost continuously cursed the shutter - the reason: it rained almost continuously for most of my 4 hour journey. The end-result was that we were sitting in a metal box that was closed from all sides. No light inside the cabin - other than for the coach lighting - and no possibility of knowing what was happening outside.

Coming to the journey, It so happened one evening that I …