March 2020 was a month most people in the world wouldn't forget. Indians wouldn't, for sure. The virus wrecked many lives - both by causing infections and by causing financial troubles. This period caused many changes in my life as well - life changed tracks, went through speed restrictions and even hit the overspeed limit quite a few times. As things are slowly being re-railed, a quick trip to our family temple, which was on the drawing board since the onset of the pandemic, was planned. The entire trip was planned by train since driving this distance would be tedious and much more time consuming.
After spending some time, rather, days, planning, the decision was to travel by day trains. I was a little concerned about how my daughter would react to traveling overnight - day journey seemed to be a safe bet since she would be able to spend time looking at the world go by. The final journey plan was like this - Thrissur to Kannur by Parasuram 'special', Payyannur to Kasaragod by Coimbatore Mangalore Intercity 'Special', and finally, Kasaragod to Thrissur by Ernad 'Special'. Plus some miscellaneous trips by road to visit the temple and relatives. The first and last leg were by AC Chair Car and the middle leg by Second-class non-ac coach (it was too short a distance to book by AC Chair Car).
Part ONE: Thrissur to Kannur by Parasuram Express 'Special' - October 09, 2021:
My daughter's excitement had no bounds - she was jumping in joy as she prepared for her first ever train journey. This was, in fact, her first journey to a place other than her maternal grandparents' place. While she was running around with joy, I was a little tensed about how this entire thing would pan out. The taxi turned up at 1030hrs - almost 2 hours to go for the train. The railway station was a little over 30 kilometres from home, and would generally be reached in about an hour by road. It rained a little as we traveled to Thrissur - I had initially planned to buy something for lunch from some restaurant near the station - but we got to Thrissur by around 1130 - well before lunch starts at restaurants.
Only one entrance was open at the station (due to the pandemic related restrictions) - I quickly checked the coach position of my train at the entrance, and found our coach would be the fourth from the locomotive. As is the norm, all trains towards Shoranur/Guruvayur depart from Platform 2 (there are some exceptions, though) - our train was also to depart from Platform 2. We thought of picking our lunch from the refreshment room - but the guy at the counter informed that the food wasn't ready yet! That leaves us with the only option of buying food from a vendor on the platform. There was a steady stream of trains arriving and departing from either directions - some notable ones were the Dhanbad Alappuzha Express, Venad Express to Shoranur and the Mangala Lakshadweep express to Hazrat Nizamuddin.
It was a task lugging our baggage on to Platform 2 - especially since our coaches were closer to the locomotive end, and escalator/elevator facility was at the other end. There were plenty of seats available for waiting passengers, though - we helped cool us off after all the effort we had to put to get to the platform. The platform turned silent as the Nizamuddin bound Mangala Lakshadweep Express departed. I was expecting my train to turn up right behind Mangala - and hopes ran up as the announcement chime was played. But that was to announce a 10 minute delay to my train.
While waiting on the platform, we checked with a vendor to see if lunch options were available. He had only non-vegetarian options - but he offered to get us vegetarian food from the base kitchen if we wanted. Really appreciate his gesture - he went to the kitchen to get vegetarian food for us. Meanwhile, the next train was announced - that was the Kochuveli-Indore 'Ahilyanagari Special'. Interestingly, almost all the trains on that day (except the Shoranur bound Venad express) turned up with WAP4s. All my recent train journeys were on trains hauled by WAP7 locomotives - I was getting set for a change on that day! I quickly checked the National Train Enquiry System (NTES) mobile app, and found my train was nearing Thrissur.
My train turned up at 1250hrs - nevertheless, it was a WAP4 working my train! WAP4 #22962 of Arakkonam was the power for my train. My coach turned out to be the 3rd from the loco - the coach position board had claimed it was the 4th. My coach, C2, was a 2013 ICF built Air-conditioned Chair Car coach (WGSCZAC #13152) based at Mangaluru Coaching Depot. The train, 06650 Nagercoil Junction - Mangaluru Central 'Parasuram Special' Express is a 21 coach train, that covers a distance of 703.5kms between its origin and destination, stopping at 47 places en route! There was a bit of crowd around the entrance of our coach - we managed to get in comfortably before departure. The train started off from Thrissur at 1252hrs - 24 minutes behind schedule.
It took a while to settle down - finding space to place baggage is the most difficult task in a day train. Fortunately, I just had to juggle a few bags to make space for our bags (traveling with a kid means a lot of baggage!). This was my first journey with my kid in a train - I just realized there was a lot of responsibilities to handle! We dug into our lunch soon after settling down. The food (Vegetable Biriyani) was quite delicious, and not the usual bland railway "biryani". This one had flavours and paired really well with the pickle and raitha they had given. Meanwhile, the train pulled in to Wadakkanchery by 1309hrs, and departed by 1312hrs. I moved to the nearby non-ac Chair car coach to capture some videos. I always get excited while traveling through the Thrissur-Shoranur stretch - its picturesque during any season, and has plenty of curves to add to the fun. We pulled in to Shoranur by 1335hrs - 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
|The lunch: Veg Biriyani from the Station restaurant. It wasn't the usual railway food, though!
We crossed the Nagercoil bound Ernad Express at Shoranur. I utilized the extra time at Shoranur for a stroll. We departed from Shoranur at 1355hrs - perfectly on schedule. It was an eventless ride after Shoranur. The train made a brief halt (scheduled) at Pattambi, and departed by 1413hrs. My kid was really excited about the train journey - and to let her enjoy the journey to the fullest, I and TW moved to the nearby non-ac chair car coach for a while. It rained a bit, and TD loved getting her hands wet from the rain. In the mean time, the train made another halt - at Kuttipuram (1431hrs). This was another short break as well. The eventless run continued. Parasuram, although an "express" by name, runs more like a fast-passenger train. The train makes as much as 49 halts in its 703-kilometre journey. We got to Tirur by 1446hrs - the non-ac coach in which we were sitting filled up now, and we returned to our AC Chair car coach nearby.
|During the longish break at Shoranur
The train had scheduled halts at Tanur (1458hrs), Parappanangadi (1508hrs) and Feroke (1525hrs) before we reached Kozhikode. We reached Kozhikode by 1540hrs (2 minutes early). Although Parasuram express had a pantry car, the kitchen wasn't functional and hence vendors were selling only ready-to-eat food items and beverages (hot and cold). The joy of traveling by train is accentuated by the food that one gets to eat on the train (I am sure a lot of people agree with me on this) - irrespective of the fact that railway food usually isn't the best, the food has a great connect with passengers. We picked up some snacks from Kozhikode station. We left Kozhikode at 1545hrs - perfectly on time.
The ride was eventless after Kozhikode as well. Since it kept raining on-and-off, I remained indoors for most part of the ride. The train made halts at Quilandi (1610hrs), Vadakara (1635hrs), Mahe (1646hrs0 and Thalassery (1700hrs). I moved to the door as the train neared Kannur, our destination. Thankfully, it had stopped raining by then. We were a little behind schedule already - the train pulled in to Kannur at 1720hrs (5 minutes behind schedule). The Kannur-Shoranur MEMU was ready to depart as we pulled in. The overall journey was largely eventless - my kid enjoyed her first train journey, so much that she still fondly remembers quite a bit of the journey. Parasuram isn't the fastest train on the route - but still has a great running time!
Hey! Don't forget to check out my video on this journey here:
Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 06650 Nagercoil Junction - Mangalore Central Parasuram 'Special' Express
Loco link: WAP4 #22962 of Arakkonam
Coach: C2, WGSCZAC #13152, based at Mangalore Central.
Punctuality: 9/10 (Departed & arrived a few minutes behind schedule!)
Cleanliness: 10/10 (Absolutely clean)
Bedroll: Not Available.
Catering: Limited service - not being rated
It was a simple, no-nonsense journey. This was a journey behind a WAP4 after a very long time. As a passenger, one wouldn't notice any major difference between a WAP4 hauled train and a WAP7 hauled train, though. This journey is memorable for a big reason - that it was my kid's first train journey!