Gulbarga to Bengaluru by train: 22133 Solapur Yeshwantpur Express

Based on my previous experiences, I had finalised to take a train to return from Gulbarga (Kalaburagi). My earlier experience with the bus wasn't great, and I had to be in office early that morning since I had an exam to officiate, and it later turned out that I had to also be present for an inspection by a statutory agency. I looked at all the options available - there is only one train that actually met my requirements - and that was the 22133 Solapur Yeshwantpur Express. The train had lots of tickets available when I first checked for tickets, but I kept the decision pending, and by the time I booked, the availability had already dropped to RAC6. With no choices left, I just grabbed one ticket on that train in Two-Tier AC Sleeper aka Second AC.

June 20, 2018:
I had a fairly busy day at work. The exam took quite some time to complete - was done a little before evening. Like every time, I visited a bakery in the evening - Srinivasa Iyengar Bakery, which was close to my accommodation, and had some really yummy snacks. I had lots of time for my train - which leaves only at 2105hrs. I left my room a little past 1930hrs, got into an auto, which dropped me outside the railway station in about 10 minutes since. My first stop was at Hotel Zeeshan - from where I had taken the yummiest pulao in recent times during my last visit. Zeeshan was still there, but the pulao was long gone. I had to be content with Jeera Rice (which is also 'claimed' to be a delicacy here) - the rice was very average, had more curry leaves than rice grains itself! I punctuated this was tea (which is again considered the best in town) - the tea was very sweet, and tasted quite dilute. I doubt if I'd return to this restaurant again.

I walked to the railway station after shopping some sweets from the hotel. The railway station was terribly crowded - usually crowded. The platform had no space to stand - looked like there were more people to send off the less number of passengers. I headed to the 'Upper class waiting room' - which was equally crowded, but had a few seats vacant. I took one of those seats, connected to the RailWire WiFi and spent the rest of my time trying to track my train. The status of my ticket was sad - it had dropped to RAC1, and remained thus after charting too! I was to travel by train with a ticket that was not yet confirmed! I had no choices - had to travel!

The train finally comes in at 2114hrs, with WDP4 #20020 of Hubli doing the honours. I was given a "seat" in A2, which I had to share with another passenger, who was also in RAC. People mob the entry as soon as the train stops - people hurry, jostle and push other around as they try to win the battle of getting inside. People settle inside quite soon - except one family (of three) who were traveling with no less than 6 pieces of baggage. Meanwhile, the train slowly crawls out of Gulbarga at 2123hrs.

The TTE comes in a while later, checks my ticket and informs that the RAC cannot be cleared until we pass Raichur - some two hours away. There is no choice - I decide to watch something on my phone. But, Alas! I had misplaced my earphones somewhere - not I had nothing to do. I tune on to facebook, get into a message exchange on WhatsApp - the network remains patchy, and keeps going off time and again. The train picks up speed - the speedometer app in my phone shows speeds in the range of 100kmph all the time. Quite unusually, I got a fairly new coach this time - a 2008 vintage ICF built coach, fairly well maintained by the coaching depot at Solapur. There was no flat wheel, and the AC cooled the coach really well.

We pull into Shahabad - famous for flooring stones - by around 2143hrs, and leave two minutes later. I was quite sleepy by now - my co-passenger had moved to another empty seat in the coach - this allowed me to stretch my legs a bit and sit comfortably. The train was quite fast, and we pulled in to Wadi Junction by 2157hrs - about two minutes late. The TTE changed here, and a new guy took over. We started moving from Wadi by 2211hrs - about 11 minutes behind schedule. A while after the train left Wadi, the new TTE (Travelling Ticket Examiner) comes around to check tickets all over again. He checks my ticket again - and informs me that I could take berth #36! I was elated - but I quickly ask him if any upper berths are free. My "co-passenger", who was alloted berth #28, quickly informs me that I could take his berth if I wanted - and that was an upper berth!

My excitement had no bounds - I thanked him, and the TTE, and moved to "my" berth. I decided to use a bed spread - arranged my berth, and got to sleep by around 2245hrs - to what was perhaps the best sleep I had while traveling, in recent times. Thankfully, I had left an alarm for 0615hrs - so that I could get off at Yelahanka, where the train reaches at 0633hrs. I slept straight till the alarm rang - I was groggy and didn't want to wake up when the alarm rang. But there was an eerie silence, and the train was stationary somewhere. I quickly opened GMaps to see where we were - I was shocked, surprised - we were already at Yelahanka! The train was over 18 minute before time!

I literally jumped out of my berth, collected all my belongings, quickly checked the berth if I had left something behind, and got off the train. It took me a while to get back to senses - then fired up the uber app, and hired a taxi from the station to my home, about 35 minutes away!

Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 22133 Solapur - Yeshwantpur Express 
Loco link: Hubli WDP4 #20020
Coach: A2, WGACCW #08053 built by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai in 2008.  

Ratings:
Punctuality: 10/10 (negligible delays)
Cleanliness: 10/10 (Very clean!)
Catering: NA
Overall: 10/10

Absolutely awesome journey. Clean coach, perfectly on time journey. The AC cooled really well, the coach was perfectly maintained, the bed roll kit had clean bed sheets. Overall a great journey - one that I enjoyed!

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