The journey to Mysuru was completely unplanned and came up at a very short notice. With the pandemic, I was a little unsure about the frequency of buses from Bengaluru to Mysuru, and I had to be on time for my appointment at Mysuru. I decided to look at trains instead - after searching for trains on IRCTC, and then checking the running status of these trains and confirming that they arrive Mysuru on time, I zeroed in on Mayiladuthurai - Mysuru Express. The next confusion was - "What class?"
I usually book AC Chair Car or AC 3-tier. I was a little iffy about taking the AC coach this time - plus the Indian Railways were using this pandemic as an opportunity to charge higher fares. Tickets were being sold at very high costs - almost twice the normal fare in case of AC coaches. I found three digit availability for non-AC Second Class seating coach - the availability meant the coach was surely almost empty. I've been wanting to explore this railway route for a very long time - traveling in a sitting coach would give the opportunity to enjoy the route in its natural beauty as well. The last, and the only time, I traveled on this route, it was in a Shatabdi express - so I just flew through the route (read here).
Booking on the IRCTC website went through without any hitches and I got a 'window seat' in 'D1'. I received a 'chart prepared' message a day prior to my journey - by now, the seat availability position in this train had moved to 'Regret' - meaning, the train was sold out! I was a little 'upset' now. I wasn't really prepared to travel in a crowded coach - the scare due to the pandemic was still high. Reservation chart for my coach came up on the IRCTC website - I checked that to find that every seat in my coach was reserved!
January 20, 2021:
The first train journey of the year - and one after about 10 months! I slept very little the previous night - I was anxious and excited at the same time. Anxious - because I was worried about traveling in a crowded coach. Excited - because I was traveling by train after 10 months!
I woke up around 0400hrs, and booked a cab by 0500hrs. In the past, Uber drivers always refused rides to the railway station, especially during morning hours. The pandemic reduced the business for all the cabbies, and this time there was no refusal, and the cab turned up in 10 minutes from the time I booked. The driver cleaned the cab before I boarded, sanitized his hands and then returned to the driver seat to start the ride - that was neat!
I reached Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Railway station (Bengaluru) a little past 0535hrs. The station was crowded - really crowded. It appeared some train had just arrived (more than one train had arrived then), and the entire crowd was slowly leaving the station. I was expecting checking at the entrance - I remember reading that only genuine passengers are being permitted inside. There was no such thing - I walked through the entrance, and directly entered the foot-over-bridge. I found from the display board that my train was to depart from Platform 5 - the train had arrived well before time, and was already on the platform.
|I loved that selfie spot outside Mysuru station
As I reached the platform, incoming passengers had all alighted - the train was almost empty at this point. I headed towards the locomotive - the incoming diesel locomotive had already been disconnected, and the new electric locomotive had taken charge already. WAP7 #39166 homed at Krishnarajapuram 'Diesel Loco Shed' was in charge for this ride. My coach was at the rear end of the rake - 20th of the 21 coaches this train had. It was one long walk to the rear. On the way, I stopped by at a shop to buy a bottle of water and a pack of biscuit as a back-up for the day. Parcels were still being unloaded from the rear parcel van - the parcels were mainly seafood (evident from the smell and the water that leaked out of the containers).
My coach - D1 - WGS #12449 based at Mysuru coaching depot of South Western Railway - was all decked in advertisements of 'Mysore Sandal Soap'. The coach was empty - someone else was occupying the seat I had reserved - I decided to sit elsewhere, since the coach was very empty - approximately around 15 passengers, out of its capacity of 90 seats! Mobile charging points were available near every window - and were working as well! I looked around the coach - it was fairly clean, and well kept. The toilet were clean as well.
The train got moving exactly at 0620hrs - perfectly as per schedule. The train slowly crawled out of Platform 5, cleared points and entered the line towards Mysore. We slowly picked pace as the train rushed through suburban Bengaluru. The city was just waking up - it was a little foggy as well. Cold wind swept through the coach. This was the old ICF design coach, with a recent facelift and branded as 'Utkrisht' coach. Windows had two 'closures' - a glass shutter, and a louvre shutter. The glass shutter is preferred when its cold - it lets us watch the world outside and also keep out of cold air. Majority of the glass shutters in the coach were down.
|Somewhere on the way..
We ran through Nayandahalli station a little later - the train went through the station at a slow pace. The platform was used up by people as a park to jog and maybe exercise a bit. We rolled in to our first halt - Kengeri, at 0640hrs - about a minute behind schedule. The halt was quick - quite some people joined here - and we started off at 0642hrs - 2 minutes behind schedule. The train picked speed after Kengeri. The cityscape gave way to lovely farmlands. Paddy and Sugarcane are the main crops in the region - it was farm land after farm land, interspersed with canals and rivulets. It was quite cold outside - my jacket helped me a bit though.
The train had only 2 halts between Bengaluru and Mysuru - at Kengeri and Mandya. We were trailing a train that halted at more stations - so we had to slow down at some places, and make an unschedule stop in between as well. The Covid pandemic removed onboard vendors - so no food was sold on board. The train had a non-stop run from Kengeri to Mandya (we slowed down while passing Maddur, though) - this one hour stretch was eventless. We crossed two trains enroute - the MEMU (Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit) to Bengaluru, and an express train to Bengaluru.
We rolled in to Mandya at 0747hrs - 8 minutes behind schedule. This was a really quick halt - I didn't see a lot of people alighting or boarding from here. He got moving again at 0748hrs. The run after Mandya was eventless. The view of fields continued. We passed the lovely Srirangapatna bridges a while later, and continued our lightening run towards Mysuru. The high speed run came down to a crawl as we reached Mysuru New Goods Terminal - a WDG4D was doing some marshalling in the yard there. We had to wait at Mysuru home signal for a while, before being admitted in to Mysuru Junction railway station. The train berthed on Platform 2 of Mysuru station at 0840hrs - 30 minutes before time!
The train took only 2 hours and 30 minutes to run approximately 138kms from Bengaluru to Mysuru - the same distance by bus takes no less than 3 hours. The last time, Shatabdi covered this distance in 2 hours, running non-stop. I really loved this train ride - enjoying the beauty of the route, with the cold wind blowing through! Absolutely lovely journey after long..
I am sorry - I didn't click too many pictures - but here is a video trip report - a 21 minute video with original sound!
Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 06231 Mayiladuthurai Mysuru Festive Special Express
Loco link: WAP7 #39166 of Krishnarajapuram
Coach: D1, WGS #12449, based at Mysuru.
Punctuality: 10/10 (Departed on time, Arrived well before time!)
Cleanliness: 10/10 (Absolutely clean)
Bedroll: Does not apply.
Catering: Not Available.