Yeshwantpur to Pune: Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express

The Brochure for this conference in Pune came quite some time back. I ignored it back then. As the date for the conference came closer, grew a desire to attend this event - the travel lover in me badly wanted to break free from the regular route of home to office and back. Four more colleagues joined in when I put the plan to head to Pune. So a total of 5 of us were traveling, and taking the train was the first call. I prefer avoiding trains when traveling alone - it gets boring when traveling alone in a train. With a gang of 5, it sure would be fun! We looked at all the options available, and finally decided to book on Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express - primarily for two reasons, confirmed ticket availability and a early drop in Pune. We booked tickets in 3A - thankfully, the tickets were together as well.

November 14, 2019:
The train departs at 1355hrs - meaning I had to leave from office by 1200hrs, at the latest. I had two hours of classes in the morning, which eventually got cancelled due to another event at the college. I left office around 1200hrs - headed home and quickly got fresh, changed and rushed out of home. We (I and a colleague) had hired an autorickshaw to drop us at the nearest metro station - from where we took a metro train to Yeshwantpur. We were there by 1300hrs - with a lot of time to spare for our train.
The 12629 Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express..

The rake of our train was parked on Platform 6 already - the coaches were open, but the air conditioner wasn't turned on yet. It was hot inside - the fan did help a bit. After sweating it out for some time, both of us decided to head to the business end to see who would power our rake to Pune. The rest of the gang hadn't joined yet! It was a long walk to the front end - the loco hadn't come in yet. A large contingent of the armed forces was traveling by the train, and they were stocking up their coach and assembling for their head count. In the meantime, the power for our train came in, shunting a high-capacity parcel van along. It was Krishnarajapuram WDP4D #40494 doing the honour. We remained around till the coupling formalities were over.
WDP4D #40494 of KJM all set to haul our train to Pune..

On the way back to our coach, we stopped by at the Nandini booth to stock water, some flavoured milk and their famous tea biscuits. Our coach, B3, was towards the rear end of the train - and it was again a long walk to reach back at our coach. By now, the occupants of the lower berths (we had the middle, upper and side upper berths for us) had joined. We had quite a task to adjust all our bags below the berths. The coach was fairly packed already - a few berths were to be occupied only from Hubli/Belgaum. The train started moving from Yeshwantpur at 1357hrs - two minutes behind schedule. We crawled out of Yeshwantpur soon, and quickly got on to the main line. We picked pace soon later, and rushed towards Tumkur.

Soon after we started out lunch parcels came out - food was brought from a restaurant near office. Traveling in a train is fun when you are in a group. The elderly couple occupying the lower berths in the cubicle we were sitting in often joined the fun. We finished our lunch slowly as the train quickly rushed towards Tumkur. We rolled in to Tumkur at 1448hrs - 5 full minutes before schedule. We started off at 1455hrs - perfectly on schedule. I did not notice what was happening outside as we got busy with the banter and time literally flew. In the meantime, the train was looped at Banasandra - we spent over 10 minutes in the loop line as we waited for an unknown train to cross. I think that was the Mysore bound Vishwamanava express (not sure) - we started from Banasandra at 1547hrs. I was getting desperate to lay my hands on the famous Thatte Idlis at Arsikere - I have mouthwatering memories of the idlies with spicy coconut chutney, which used to be a regular dish during my journeys that was in the 2005-2008 period!
Yummy Thatte Idlis at Arsikere..

We got to Arsikere by 1626hrs - I was at the door as the train rolled, and jumped off the coach as soon as the train stopped. Unlike in the past, there were no vendors around - a shop keeper near our coach directed us towards another shop, who had Idlis. We purchased three plates of Idli-Vada and returned to the coach - the platform was low, and getting back to the coach with the plates almost overflowing with chutney wasn't easy! The plates were cleared in no time - I must say, I am blessed to be in a department that has quite a few common interests - food and fun have always been an uniting factor for us. We started off from Arsikere at 1632hrs. The ride got monotonous after that - I did not make note of the crossings we had. We did not make any unscheduled halts en route through.

Sometime during the run, a vendor from the pantry had taken our orders for dinner - and he promised the food would be delivered a little past 1930hrs. We got to Davanagere by 1923hrs, and departed at 1929hrs. A little after we started from Davanagere, piping hot food from the Pantry was served. The dinner platter consisted of Plain Parantha, a Paneer curry, Jeera Rice and Dal. A sweet and a pack of pickle was also served. The food was good, considering railway standards. It was overpriced, considering the quantity, though. We had stopped at Harihar in the mean time (departed at 1955hrs). We finished our dinner and quickly got set to sleep - our co-passengers had requested if we could allow them head to bed by 2100hrs. We obliged, and made sure the berths were out by 2045hrs itself. The pantry car vendor came around taking orders for breakfast - but we declined, as we decided to take a call the next morning instead.
The dinner from the Pantry..

I was quite tired - the previous days were largely sleepless due to various other reasons, and I took this as an opportunity to sleep. But then, I find it quite hard to sleep in a train, and this day was no different - I tuned to a movie on the phone till my eyes got tired and I slept. I was woken up briefly as the train stopped at Hubli - as some passengers joined the coach here, and they made a ruckus as they settled down. I did not notice the time though - but was around 2300hrs, going by a guesstimate! I slept quite well after that, waking up a little past 0600hrs. The occupants of the lower berths were already up - and I saw the elderly gentleman sitting uncomfortably in the lower berth. I got off soon later, and lowered my berth (a middle berth) allowing him to sit comfortably.

The rest of our team was also up by now - all of us were back to the seats by around 0700hrs. The train was running a little behind schedule - we were snaking through the picturesque Shindawane ghat section now. Vendors from the pantry were all around selling items for breakfast. We decided to buy something, since we were all hungry by now. I opted for Veg Cutlets - the food was oily, but was tasty. We got some tea to wash down the breakfast and waited for the train to get to Pune. The train finally rolled in to Pune at 0915hrs - about 30 minutes behind schedule, ending our 19h18m ride.

Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 12629 Yeshwantpur - Hazrat Nizamuddin Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express
Loco link: WDP4D #40494 of Krishnarajapuram
Coach: B3, WGACCN 99150 built by RCF, Kapurthala in 1999. Based at Yesvantpur.

Punctuality: 9.5/10 (30 minutes delay at destination)
Cleanliness: 9/10 (The toilets weren't so clean)
Catering: 9/10 (Good food from the Pantry)

Overall: 9/10

A good journey, made all the more comfortable by the company of my colleagues. Train wouldn't have been an option at all, had I been travelling along. The trains train much more time that the buses take. The coach was quite old - the fittings all showed age, but was kept in quite good shape. The toilets were not so clean - and was damp all the time. The overall experience was good.