Exam duties are an opportunity for us teachers to travel - and the travel freak in me wouldn't let go of those opportunities. Out of the three duties I had this, one was to Davanagere. Davanagere is a little over 260kms from Bangalore - a decent 5 hour ride by road. I also had another option in the form of a Jan Shatabdi Express. Its been a really long time since I made a train journey, and I thought this was my opportunity. Although this train would be a little late for my purpose, I made arrangements to begin the exam before I reach there and booked a ticket on Jan Shatabdi. The AC Chair Car seat turned out to be expensive than an airconditioned bus, which takes more or less the same running time as well.
June 04, 2016:
I had a very very early start to my day. The train leaves at 0600hrs, and I wanted to leave home before 5am, to arrive comfortably on time at the railway station. I fired up mobile apps of two cab aggregators (App Taxis
as they are called). Cabs weren't available around my home for some time - a cab appeared on the Uber
app a while before 5 am. I confirmed my booking and waited for some time - the cab showed no signs of moving. The driver first called up and confirmed my location - but he sounded a bit disappointed when he heard the destination. He hung up saying he'll come within a couple of minutes. And, as expected, the driver calls back after a couple of minutes, and blurts out that he doesn't have diesel and cannot come - this is a routine happening with Uber,
drivers very often refuse trips with lame excuses if they do not wish to operate to that destination. Taking up this matter with Uber
repeatedly has not brought about any resolution as well - time to say bye, to them, probably.
The next app was fired up, and Ola! A cab arrived within minutes, and I left home just past 0515hrs. The driver hurried as I told I have a train to catch at 0600hrs. He dropped me at the Okalipuram entrance of the railway station at 0544hrs. As I walked into the station, I saw the rake of Hubli Jan Shatabdi (my train) stabled on Platform 8. The Alco [the colloquial name for railway locomotives originally designed by American Locomotive Company
] up front was getting ready for its long trip ahead. My coach was the second from the locomotive. The loco was WDG3A #14796 of Krishnarajapuram. My coach was C1 (06151). The coach was more or less empty as I got in - I had a window seat in the two seater, but was travelling backwards. There were lots of walk-in passengers, and we were about 75% full as the train started from Bangalore City Station (Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Station Bengaluru, or KSR Bengaluru
, as it is called now). We started exactly at 0600hrs. The loco was a great smoker, and had some amazing beats!
|WDG3A #14796 of Krishnarajapuram up at the front!|
The next stop was at Yeswantpur (0614/0615) - the coach more or less filled up here. The TTE had a nice time writing out Excess Fare Tickets for all the walk-in passengers. The typical ALCO chugs was a melody to the ears - especially sitting so close to the loco. Sometime into the run, vendors began appearing with breakfast items. I was really hungry and badly wanted something to eat. The first vendor had Masala Dosa and Idli Vada for sale - I opted for the former. The casserole contained two small Masala Dosas - the vendor gave a cup full of chutney. I also bought a coffee to wash down the dosas.
|Masala Dosas, with Coffee for company. [Sorry for the blurry pic]|
Quite differently, the dosa was well cooked and the masala was quite nice. The chutney was the typical railway chutney. The coffee was also the typical railway coffee - I always wonder how they prepare it so consistently! The journey was quite unevenful - I was sleepy for most of the time as well. We pulled in to Tumkur at 0707hrs. I was quite shocked to see that the station still had a low level platform. The train did not move for quite a long time - the reason came in at 0716hrs - the Arsikere-Bangalore Passenger, hauled by WDP4D 40298. We started at 0717hrs from Tumkur. I dozed off for sometime. There was steady stream of vendors - both on-board catering as well as authorised vendors who got in at Tumkur.
|About to start from Arsikere.. |
We pulled in to Arsikere at 0843hrs. Arsikere is famous for Thatte Idlis - back in the mid 2000s, I used to relish on those Idlis during our regular Bangalore-Mumbai runs. I was hoping I could find some this time - but, Alas! I couldn't find a single vendor on the platform. And, the starter was already given by the time I got off the train. A lot of passengers got down here. We started a little later - since there crew were just changing. We started off at 0849hrs. Soon after we started from Arsikere, vendors appeared with Thatte Idlis - the awesome disc shaped idlis, with crisp vadas soaked in good chutney! I loved this lip smacking dish. After downing them, I had another round of sleep.
|Thatte Idly, with Vada and chutney.. |
Our next stop was Birur - 0925hrs. We left from here at 0928. Chikkajajur was the next stop (1026hrs). The ride was uneventful throughout. I was bored to the core by now and desperately wanted to get off. I was half sleepy as well. I finally got off at Davanagere at 1104hrs - some 16 minutes late. I don't know why, by SWR seemed to take revenge on Jan Shatabdi Passengers. We were put on Platform 2 - it was a long long walk back to the Foot Over Bridge and then out of the station.
I was in a Jan Shatabdi after almost seven years. The train doesn't seem to be having the priority it had during its heydays. The coach was in good shape - must appreciate SWR for that. The coach was toilets only at one end - which happened to be the opposite end of where I was seated. The seats were fairly comfortable - except that the bottle holders were located at an odd place, and my knee kept hitting the holder every now and then. Overall a nice journey - I wouldn't call it Value for Money though. The end-to-end ride took 5h04m, and the fare turned out to Rs. 580. I returned by bus, and that journey (will be reviewed later) took 5h01m, with the ticket costing me only Rs. 489 - almost Rs. 100 less. [I'd have saved more than Rs. 100 had I not reserved and purchased the ticket on board the bus]. But, then, yeah.. I did enjoy this train ride after a long time.