Greetings to everyone 🙂
Few days back, I wrote my very first blog: Journeys on Indian Railways: Bangalore to Bangarapet and back/. The blog post described my journey from the metropolitan city of Bangalore to a nearby small town: Bangarapet.
As I have mentioned earlier(in my 1st blog post), I enjoy traveling a lot, specially train travel. So, here I’m about to describe another journey, once again a small one, from Indore, my hometown, which is the commercial capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to Kalakund: a small, scenic nearby town 🙂
As usually happens(at least with me), suddenly planned, last moment journeys are the best ones. Kalakund is situated on Indore-Khandwa railway line, which itself is a part of Ratlam-Akola railway line. Ratlam-Indore-Mhow-Khandwa-Akola section(Ratlam-Akola rail route) once used to be the longest metre gauge rail route of India. At this point of time(March 2016) , Ratlam-Indore-Mhow has been converted to Broad Gauge under the Project Unigauge by Indian Railways.
The main driving factor behind this journey was the railway route from Patalpani(PTP)-Kalakund(KKD) railway station, which is a 10 km long metre gauge section on Mhow-Khandwa rail route. This is one of the most beautiful train routes of Indian Railways, specially in monsoons.
A 100 year old rail route,the track was built on a very difficult terrain,which can be judged by the fact that in a span of only 10 kms, one encounters 4 TUNNELS & some 4-5 VIADUCTS !
Finally, on a hot morning of May 24th 2013 , I started my trip to Kalakund with my friend Vivek Mishra(who is also a train lover like me). We boarded YDM-4 class locomotive hauled 52975 Ujjain-Akola metre gauge passenger train from Indore around 9 AM. It is a fun to travel on an Indian Railways metre gauge train: the chugging and smoking of loco, old lamps in coaches instead of tubelights, the coaches shake a lot as the train gathers speed, the nostalgic maroon livery of coaches instead of the current blue livery and some awesome, rhythmic track sounds due to old tracks.
I started enjoying our journey as soon as I boarded the train with Vivek, going through long conversations on different aspects of Indian Railways, excited about the route ahead. Around 9:30 AM, our train entered RAU railway station, a suburban railhead of Indore situated at an altitude of about 530 meters above MSL:
RAU will become an important junction in the near future, as the Dahod-Indore railway line(currently under construction) will join the existing Khandwa-Indore line here itself.
After departure from RAU, our train attained MPS(Maximum Permissible Speed), as it approached Mhow, an important railhead on Indore-Khandwa section:
Few minutes later, our train slowed down after this fast run and slowly entered Mhow(MHOW) railway station:
Mhow, officially known as Dr Ambedkar Nagar,is a cantonment in the Indore District in Madhya Pradesh state of India. It is located 23 kilometres (14 mi) south of Indore city. An important railhead, MHOW also hosts a diesel loco shed,containing a number of YDM-4 class diesel locomotives(Source: IRFCA).
After a long stoppage, around 11 AM, our train started departing from Mhow railway station. One can see the big yard, where a lot of old train rakes were standing idle:
My excitement increased with the increasing afternoon heat as our train speeded up after Mhow, going through minor curves, proceeding towards Patalpani:
Few minutes later, we reached Patalpani railway station(PTP), situated at 571.95 metres above MSL(Mean Sea Level):
According to folklore, the pit (kund) at the bottom of the falls goes as deep as patal (the underworld in Indian mythology). Therefore, the falls are called Patal-pani, pani being the Hindi word for water.
The area around Patalpani is a popular picnic and trekking spot. There is a famous Waterfall nearby as well, approximately 300 feet high.
Our train departed from Patalpani and both of us were thrilled as the Patalpani-Kalakund ghat section, the main attraction of the journey was about to start:
It was a treat as the train went along, specially children shouting with joy as the train went through dark tunnels, breath-taking viaducts, slowly descending towards next halt and our destination, Kalakund(KKD), 260 metres above MSL:
Quite astonishing was the fact that we had descended 571.95 – 260 i.e. 311.95 metres in a span of around 30 minutes in 10 kms! Finally,we railfans(Me and Vivek) got down at the deserted Kalakund station as our train proceeded towards Khandwa. Standing physically at the platform under the hot sun but mentally still inside that train, I couldn’t stop myself from clicking this pic of our departing train:
Kalakund is a small, scenic railway station surrounded by hills, perfect for a day trip to get rid of the busy, hectic life of Indore and a treat for metre gauge train lovers. In that hot afternoon the station was deserted, thought this small place is famous for its Kalakand(Milk cake) sweets, which are being sold at the railway station itself:
In spite of the summer heat, it was one of the best afternoons for me, as I wandered at this small, peaceful railway station clicking pics, enjoying the scenery around. We also had a chat with the friendly station master who gave us a good overview of the station’s daily traffic and about the declining business of the famous Kalakand sweets from Kalakund.
Kalakund railway station is also important due to the fact that for the trains going uphill i.e. for Kalakund-Patalpani section(Kalakund: 260 MSL and Patalpani: 571.95 MSL), a banker locomotive is attached at the back of every train to climb the steep gradient towards Patalpani.
After exploring this nice peaceful station and having a nice outing, it was time for us to return to Indore. We didn’t have to wait much as half an hour later, around 3 PM, YDM-4 #6660 locomotive from MHOW shed arrived at Kalakund with Khandwa-Mhow passenger:
As per the rules, since we were about to climb towards Patalpani, a banker locomotive was attached at the rear end of our train:
We started for our return journey to Indore, this time both me and Vivek standing at the doors of our coach to enjoy the hilly section once again.Once again our train went through all those tunnels and viaducts, climbing towards Patalpani, but there wasn’t any excitement, any shouting by children through those dark tunnels, thanks to the afternoon laziness and the scorching sun: temperature was around 42 degrees celsius!
Later, after reaching Mhow, me and Vivek boarded Mhow-Indore passenger for our final journey towards Indore.Extremely tired, but still enjoying my train journey, I clicked few snaps as our train accelerated towards Indore:
Mhow-Indore passenger at Haranya Kheri(HKH) railway station:
Our train Mhow-Indore passenger on a curve after departing from RAU railway station:
Finally, after thanking Vivek for this enchanting trip, I got down at Rajendra Nagar(RJQ) station around 4 PM to take a bus to my home.
As I entered my home, extremely tired but delighted after this journey, a beautiful quote by Pat Conroy striked my mind:
Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey….
Thanks for reading my blog. STAY TUNED AND STAY BLESSED 🙂