Exploring the controversial freight ghat! (Part-2)

...It was more of a doze than a sleep. I could clearly hear whistles blown by gangmen, gurgle from umpteen streams and falls on the route, and the regular clickety-clack. We were certainly crawling (the ghats have a limit of 30kmph) - the weather was cold. I remained partially awake as we continued our crawl up the ghats. All this while, my coach was a beehive of activity, and the lone TTE was pulling apart his hair one by one - and was continuously being mobbed by passengers with unreserved tickets. To make matters worse, almost all stations between Mangalore Junction and Hassan issue manual tickets - the TTE is handed over a chart at each station. Each station has a quota of 8 seats each, and for these 8 seats, there would be atleast 20 passengers waiting!

The commotion over seat allocation, and the rightful occupants making their claim over the unreserved passengers added to the show. I jumped out of my berth as the train neared Sakleshpur. The hum of a consist of WDG4s were barely audible, and it slowly got stronger..It got even stronger as we entered the loop line at Sakleshpur. I got off the train - it was pinching cold outside, and I had no protective clothing as well! I decided to check out the bankers first. The bankers were already uncoupled. My train was quickly cleared, and crawled its way out very soon. I headed straight to the canopied portion of the station, and settled on a bench. A railway staff quickly directed me to the waiting room, when I informed that I'd be waiting till the pairing train arrives.

The waiting room is about 12x12 big, with three metal benches lined up around the walls. The walls were damp, from the recent rains. I managed to doze off for a while on one of the benches - by the way, two were already occupied. I woke up around 2 AM. I walked around on the platform - it was unbearably cold now. I took a couple of pics of the station, and then waited for the pairing train to arrive. The Yeshwantpur-Kannur express arrived around 0240. The train was brought in by a KJM WDG3A. My partners in crime, Jayasankar (from Chennai), Bharat Narayan, Vibin and Sanket (all from Bangalore) got off the train, and we all ganged up to decide our next course of action.

The day began off at an unearthly 5 AM. We were to take a freight down the ghats. (The trip was done with due permission from relevant authorities). Twin WDG4s did the honours of take the empty BTPN rake down the ghats, 55 kms away to Subrahmanya Road. We were told that the train would take 4 hours to finish the run, including a crossing at Yadekumeri. We went down to Subrahmanya Road and returned up the ghats on the Mangalore-Yeshwantpur 'day' express. After a sumptuous meal, we headed down the ghats in another freight. We were down by around 1830. I am leaving the 'juicy' part for you all so see. The slideshow below will display selected images of the awesome journey we had through the misty ghats.

After freshening up and some heavy dinner, we were back at the station to get into our link back home. We all were taking the Kannur-Yeshwantpur express. I was to get down at Mysore, and the rest were off to Bangalore. All I remember about this journey was the rush and the commotion at the station. There was little, or no, information on coach positions. We were booked in S4. On enquiry, the guy at the ticket counter said it'll come right near the counter. (Thankfully, it did). The crowd waiting to get into the train was heavy, and made for a stampede like situation when the train came in. We had 'compact' accomodation. I got on to a Middle berth as soon as the train started off. I vaguely remember seeing the TTE - I fell dead asleep even before we started ascending the ghats. I woke up at 4am, just as the train was pulling into Mysore station!

We traveled down the ghats twice and up the ghat twice (I did it thrice) over the day. It was tiresome - none of us were 'tuned' to this kind of travels. But, the ghat route is a must-do for any railfan! Please do it just after the monsoons - the climate would be cool, plus the misty mountains would make for an amazing view. 

Read Part-I of this post here. I returned from Mysore to Kerala by bus. I had posted a travelogue of the bus journey a while back right here (Read the post here).


Anonymous said…
Finally some railfanning pics! Good ones! But I must admit that 30 pics didn't compensate for the lack of pictures for over a year!