Imagine a typical Indian man(me), who belongs to a central Indian city(Indore, Madhya Pradesh), but lives deep down in the South Indian metropolitan city of Bangalore in the state of Karnataka. The month of October(2015) is about to end and the biggest festivals of India: Dussehra,Diwali are round the corner. This man has various choices of going to Indore: airways, few superfast trains(30 hour journey) from Bangalore to Bhopal(Bhopal is near Indore) and the LAST OPTION: A direct train from Bangalore to Indore, but with a 41 HOUR long journey.
Alas, this guy can’t afford airlines(Air travel is still expensive in India), all the fast trains from Bangalore to Bhopal are full. So, he has to book tickets in the 19302 Yesvantpur-Indore Express and get ready for the longest train journey of his life so far 🙂
Fianlly, on a warm morning of November 2015, I packed my bags and started from my home in Bangalore City(Kundalahalli area) to reach Yesvantpur(YPR) railway station: A suburban railway station of Bangalore, which has been developed in order to reduce load on Bangalore City(SBC), the main railway station of Bangalore. I reached station well in time and boarded my train (19302 Yesvantpur-Indore Express). Mine was an “Upper Berth” in an “AC 3-tier” coach, so no window seat this time 😛
I quickly went on to the door, as our train departed from Yesvantpur railway station around 12:00 PM, all set for a 2-day long, 1900 km journey towards Indore. Being hauled by a diesel locomotive, our train was nicely chugging and carefully skipped Lottegolahalli, a suburb of Bangalore:
We slowly came to a halt at Yelahanka Junction(YNK), a suburb of Bangalore and an important railway junction. From Yelahanka, our train was about to traverse a long, single-line non-electrified train route: Yelahanka-Dharmavaram-Gooty-Kacheguda-Purna-Akola, more than half of the total distance for the journey!
After departing from Yelahanka, our train was nicely speeding in the vast open landscape, chugging through the single-line section on a pleasant winter afternoon. We were slowly nearing Karnataka – Andhra Pradesh state border:
Going at a decent pace, our train nicely chugged as we skipped Hindupur(HUP) railway station. We were now running in the state of Andhra Pradesh:
After crossing Hindupur, I decided to leave the door for some time and take rest for 2-3 hours. Around 4:00 PM in the evening, we were about to enter Anantapur(ATP):
Anantapur was also a position of strategic importance for the British Indian Army during the Second World War. Being a single-line section, our train had to wait for almost 15 minutes in order to make way for 11013 Mumbai-Coimbatore Express!
After almost 2 hours of non-stop run, now it was time for our train to enter Gooty Junction(GY), a crucial junction of railway lines from Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. I was really enjoying the fresh evening air standing at the door:
Gooty railway station also hosts a large diesel locomotive shed. It started getting dark as we departed Gooty(around 7 PM) and started moving towards Hyderabad, a metropolitan city and the capital of the state of Telangana. As it was dark outside, I returned to my Upper berth in my coach and decided to pass my time by reading a book. Around 8:30-9 PM, when everyone was feeling hungry in the train(dinner time), a guy from IRCTC catering service entered our coach and took orders from everyone for their dinner. Apart from such a long journey for this train(41 hours), another drawback is that their is no Pantry Car on board , one has to wait for the train to reach big stations so that food can be loaded temporarily!
After eating a full bowl of Veg Biryani (Biriyani is a mixed rice dish common in Southern India), it was time for me once again to stand at the door(around 10 PM). We were rushing through the darkness which was all around, as our train was running through the countryside. Suddenly, once again, we stopped at a wayside station in the middle of nowhere, thanks to single-line train route. Few minutes later, we were greeted by 17652 Kacheguda – Chennai Express:
Around 12 AM, our train entered Kacheguda(KCG) railway station, a suburban railway station of the big metropolitan city: Hyderabad. We were now in the Indian state of Telangana and our train was going to halt for around 20 minutes. So, I decided to grab a cup of coffee at the platform with one of the guys in my coach, Arun, who was traveling to Akola(Maharashtra) from Bangalore. Around 12:30 AM, our train departed from Kacheguda, as we started heading towards the Indian state of Maharashtra. Still not feeling sleepy, me and Arun started chatting and cracking jokes sitting on his side-lower berth. I was enjoying looking through the window, as our train accelerated in the dead of the night through the suburban railway stations of Hyderabad. It was quite cool inside our coach!
Finally after sleeping on my upper berth, I woke up next morning around 6:30 AM, while our train just entered Chudawa(CRU) station, we were in Maharashtra now:
This was an unscheduled halt and the only reason was the single-line section. Everytime for a crossing, one has to give way to another. We crossed Parli Vajinath-Adilabad passenger train after few minutes:
Around half an hour later, our train entered Purna Junction(PAU), the junction of lines from Mumbai, Akola and Hyderabad. Here our train would go a locomotive reversal for going towards Akola, so it was a long halt of almost 30 minutes. I decided to have breakfast of Puri-bhaji at the platform with one of my co-passengers, Mr. Yogesh Keshawre, who was also going to Indore.We departed right on time from Purna Junction:
Soon, our train was rushing through the countryside full of crops of Toor Dal (One of the pulses commonly eaten in India). We were moving towards Central India, as I was having conversations with my fellow passengers, including Mr. Yogesh, Arun etc. Around 9:00 AM, we entered Hingoli Deccan(HNL), one of the cleanest stations I have ever seen during my train journeys:
Around an hour after departing from Hingoli, we were stopped at Kanhargaon Naka (KNRG), a beautiful wayside station:
The reason was obvious: a single-line crossing, this time with 12766 Amravati-Tirupati Express 🙂
We later reached Washim, around 11:00 AM. It was getting hot now:
After a continuous run for another 40-45 km, we finally entered Akola Junction, the junction of lines from Bhusaval, Nagpur, Khandwa and Purna. Our train, which was on Purna-Akola track, went over the Nagpur-Akola line to enter Akola station(see the video):
Arun, one of my co-passengers got down at Akola. Now our train would undergo a reversal to go via Akola- Narkher-Itarsi-Bhopal-Ujjain-Indore route. The time was around 12:30 PM and it was quite hot and humid. Me and Mr. Yogesh Keshawre, my fellow passenger enjoyed a nice lunch at window seat(the passengers having window seat got down at Akola), as our train departed from Akola. Chatting with each other, I came to know that Mr. Yogesh(Of my father’s age) was running a business in Bangalore, with his family based in Indore. We kept talking about various issues, such as the gauge conversion of Akola-Indore metre gauge train route, which would have reduced almost 7 hours of this journey!
I enjoyed some nice sleep in the afternoon, and got up around 5:30 PM, when our train was about to enter Narkher junction(NRKR):
Narkher junction is situated on New Delhi – Chennai railway route, a trunk route of Indian Railways. Few minutes later, we were brutally overtaken by 12723 Hyderabad-New Delhi Telangana Express:
After departing from Narkher, I stood at the door enjoying some high speed action, as now we were running on a double-line electrified section:
Around 6:00-6:15 PM we entered Pandhurna(PAR) railway station. We were now in MADHYA PRADESH, my home state 🙂
We skipped few stations afterwards at MPS(Maximum Permissible Speed), but were surprised by an unscheduled halt at Teegaon(TEO), around 6:50 PM:
Later, as it grew dark outside, I once again reached my berth and started passing my time through this long journey, this time watching a movie on a fellow passenger’s laptop with few other passengers. We rushed quickly through many stations to reach Amla Junction around 8:30 PM, where dinner was served. Further, we reached Itarsi Junction around 10:30 PM, though I was too tired now to hang on at the door and take a video 🙂
I finally went to sleep after crossing Bhopal Junction around 12:30 AM, this being the 2nd night of my 41 hour journey. Just when I closed my eyes, flurry of thoughts came into my mind. Throughout this journey, I was in a bit of stress(yet enjoying), as I had lost my hard-earned job after lot of struggle in October 2015, owing to issues with my arrogant and disgraceful manager. This was November 2015 and I had hidden this fact with my parents, my friends, everyone for more than a month. As a result, I decided to permanently leave Bangalore and return Indore.
The train was running fast through the darkness, geographically through the countryside of Western Madhya Pradesh. Finally, we reached Indore before time around 5:00 AM(the actual time being 5:15 AM). I decided to have a cup of tea with Mr. Yogesh Keshawre amidst cool surroundings, before bidding him goodbye. We had become good friends 🙂
As my cab speeded through the empty roads of Indore towards my home, I was worried as I was about to tell the bitter truth of my lost job to my parents, but still happy that I enjoyed this long journey, which was a kind of blessing in disguise.
Thanking readers for their patience 🙂 🙂