Thursday, 14 Dec 2006: Mumbai madness, Konkan respite January 12, 2007Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Indian Railways, Travel.
Set out from the hotel to Mumbai CST (Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the erstwhile Victoria Terminus) on a ubiquitous Mumbai local train to see if I could get the IndRail pass finally. Was the first person at CST when the International Tourist Bureau counter opened. They didn’t have the pass for the number of days I wanted. Was asked to go Churchgate Station. Took a bus ride to Churchgate, clicked a few snaps of the BMC / BEST double decker buses on my way. Got there only to find that they didn’t have any IndRail pass.
Finally got a 3AC ticket on the 6345 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus – Trivandrum Netravathi Express for the same day to Kollam Junction, Kerala. Was told by the queer lady who wore two spectacles at the ticket counter that I wouldn’t make it on time for the train that was departing at 11.40am. Decided to cover Churchgate – CST – Sion – LTT in trains, and thus avoid the rush hour on the roads. Thus began a mad dash, hopping from local train to local train, before reaching LTT around 20 minutes before departure. Phew! The rides were exciting… masses of people flowing in and out of trains that went like arrows helter skelter. The crowds were pretty ok, though I desisted from boarding trains that were jam packed. Felt goose bumps when I thought these very trains – the lifelines of Mumbai – where hit by the 2006 bomb blasts.
Netravathi Express took off on time, with an Erode WDM2 at the helm. Kollam was 1734km and 30 hours away. Had to take snaps of two kids who ran alongside my coach on a parallel track, they so desperately wanted me to click them. The ride was spectacular, with fascinating landscapes and superb curves. Konkan Railway is an unbelievable experience with its lush greenery, long tunnels, imposing mountains, expansive water bodies. You can see quiet villages from the train.
The train halted at Panvel, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Madgaon, Canacona, Karwar, Bhatkal, Udupi and Kankanadi before reaching Kasaragod in Kerala next day, early morning. Went berserk with the camera taking snaps, even took a video of the Konkan Jana Shatabdi, one of the fastest trains in Konkan Railway, whiz by. All said, Konkan is a must-see for every rail-fan. See it to believe it. Experience it to enjoy it!
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