Vijayapura to Bengaluru - on the Gol Gumbaz Express

I hadn't considered train as a option for return from Vijayapura - in fact, all my accomplices advised against taking the train since it takes a very long time to get to Bengaluru, compared to buses. Out of curiosity, I did check the train option, and I realised that the fastest train takes a good 15 hours for the distance, while buses take only around 10 hours! The curious traveller in me wanted to take the train this time - I knew I'd be quite tired after the long trip that I'd have performed before I reached Vijayapura (Bijapur). Booking a berth in an Airconditioned 3-tier coach seemed the best bet - I found there were lots of seats available too. I booked one, and got a Side upper berth in coach #B3.

January 28, 2019:
I had returned to my hotel room a little past 1300hrs, after my examination work. I took some rest before setting off to the railway station, some time around 1545hrs. My train was to depart from Vijayapura at 1655hrs - it took me a while to get an autorickshaw - who crawled through the crowded roads of Vijayapura. I got to the station by around 1610hrs - with lots of time to spare for my train. The station as such was small - the building was crowded to its limits. The platform was also very crowded - I was quite intrigued by the crowd. There were no coach position indicators or even written displays at the station. I enquired at a shop at the platform, and the guy there said the AC coaches are usually at the rear end of the train.

As I started walking towards the "rear" end, the coach position indicators came alive, and began displaying the coach positions. I waited at the place where my coach would arrive - interestingly, another train to Bangalore (which takes a longer route) was scheduled to arrive at another platform at the same time. Arrival announcements about my train began a little past 1635hrs - and the crowd on the platform began to swell now. People even jumped to the other side of the railway track and waited for the train. The train finally arrived at 1645hrs, with WDP4 #20031 from Hubli Diesel locomotive shed. The coach came perfectly at the place it was supposed to - I was quite impressed seeing the way the coach, a 2014 ICF built one, was maintained. The interiors were absolutely clean, and really well maintained. It took a while before the train was allowed to leave - I was quite hungry, and managed to purchase some snacks from some vendors who came on board.
WDP4 #20031 rolling into Vijayapura with my train. Notice the people on the other side of the track as well!

The train got moving at 1705hrs - 10 minutes behind schedule. The train ambled along at a very slow pace - the slow pace persisted for most part of the journey that evening. The journey was getting a little boring due to the pace at which the train ran - it didn't exceed 60kmph every time I tried tracking its speed. We crossed a couple of trains on the way (one was the express train to Mumbai, and the other a freight). We did overtake a couple of freighters on the way as well. Our first halt was at Basavana Bagewadi - a quick halt, and we got moving by 1815hrs. The journey was quite sleepy - with the train just crawling, and people were mostly sleeping already! With nothing to do, and it getting darker outside - meaning, nothing to see either, I tuned on to a movie on my phone, and spent the rest of my time.

A little later, the train stopped in the middle of no-where, making me a little curious - we were close to Almatti now. A passenger in the same coupe as I was, ran towards the window and proudly announced that we were at Almatti dam site now - he reminisced his days of working at the dam site, and he really appeared proud of that. The train rolled into Almatti station at 1836hrs - a quick halt, quite a few passengers got in - and we rolled out at 1838hrs. It got even more dark now - we ran through a fairly long bridge after the station - my co-passenger was still at the window, his eyes gleaming and him displaying an ear-to-ear smile! Soon after he returned to his seat, I returned to the movie that I was watching. We had about an hour's run after this - before we rolled into Bagalkot station (1927hrs) - this was among the longer halts we had. We got moving at 1931hrs - the coach almost filled here. We had a brief halt at Guledagudda Road station (1949/1950hrs) next. Soon after we left from here, a guy came around to take orders for Dinner - I placed my order, and returned to my movie again.
Some where on the way...

The train stopped at Badami (2006hrs) and Hole Alur (2030hrs) before my dinner was served. Two silver foil casseroles were handed over, and the cost of the dinner (I think that was Rs. 80) was collected by the vendor. I was quite hungry already - and didn't wait long before I digged into the casseroles - one of them had Chapatis and a Potato based curry. The second one had a rice preparation (locally known as a Palav - note, not a Pulao), a gravy to go with it and some vegetable raitha. There was a small packet of Pickle and a plastic spoon as well. I wrapped up my dinner in no time - the food was not great, but certainly good. I remained seated for a while more after my dinner. I decided to head up to my side-upper berth by around 2115hrs. The train pulled into Gadag station by 2131hrs - I slept long before the train started from there. The train reverses its direction here, and repeats the procedure again a couple of hours later at Hubli - but I was deep asleep to realise any of these!
My Dinner..

I woke up only as my alarm went off - at 0645hrs. The train was still crawling - I was worried if I'd get late of office now - but soon realised that we were quite close to Bengaluru already. I rushed to get fresh and then returned to my berth. I was hoping (against hopes) that the train makes an unscheduled halt at Chikkabanavara (Code: BAW), the station that is closest to my home - we crawled till a few kilometres before this station. All of a sudden, the train picked speed, and literally rushed through BAW kicking up dust! The speed reduced soon after we passed the area, trickled down to a crawl, and came to a grinding halt a few kilometres later! I was confused if I should jump off the road, walk up the nearest road and take an auto back home - but didn't want to risk doing that with baggage. I waited, albeit impatiently, for the train to move.We finally crawled into Platform 1 of Yeshwantpur at 0718hrs - perfectly on time! I got off the train, rushed through the foot over bridge, ran out of the station, headed straight to the nearest metro station and took the first train back home!
Fresh bedroll!

Journey in a Nutshell:Train Number: 16536 Solapur - Mysuru 'Gol Gumbaz' Express
Loco link: Hubli WDP4 #20031 (Not sure if the same locomotive worked all the way till Bengaluru)
Coach: B3, WGACCN #13129 built by ICF, Chennai. Based at Hubli.

Ratings:Punctuality: 10/10 (NIL delay at either ends - was delayed en route though)
Cleanliness: 10/10 (Very clean!)
Catering: 8.5/10 (Good food, but not too many choices)

Overall: 9.5/10

A good journey - it crawled for most part of the travel, making for a very boring journey. Great choice if you have people to spend time with, or atleast a phone with lots of movies to watch! I must say, the coach was very clean, I got very fresh bed roll and the entire experience was pleasant. Wouldn't hesitate to try again!


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