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Rail-fanning at Bharathapuzha June 30, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Indian Railways, Travel.
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3 comments

Bharathapuzha or Nila is the second longest river in Kerala. Bharathapuzha means River (Puzha) of Bharathamba (Goddess mother of Bharath – India).

The allusion behind the name is that the river feeds people like their own mother – (the water is pure and can be used for drinking, irrigation or other purposes).

Bharathapuzha originates in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and flows west through the three districts of Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram and finally meets the Arabian Sea at Ponnani.

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Nila is very close to hearts of the people of Kerala, owing to its historical and cultural significance. Many of Kerala’s greatest creative geniuses such as Kunchan Nambiar (a satirical poet and founder of the Ottamthullal art form), Malayalam writers M. T. Vasudevan Nair, M.Govindan, V. K. N. and O. V. Vijayan have been inspired by her beauty.

Kerala Kalamandalam, a major learning center for Indian performing arts is situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy on the banks of Nila. The famous Ayurveda treatment centre of Kottakkal is adjacent to the Nila. It is also home to several famous Hindu temples as well. Legend goes that those cremated on the banks of the Bharathapuzha achieve salvation.

A train journey over the Bharathapuzha is a very nostalgic experience for Keralites. Many times I’ve seen travelers gaze out of the windows admiring the river that embodies the soul and spirit of North Kerala. It is not uncommon to hear travelers give impromptu lectures about the history of the river and berate the recent man-made ecological problems that have led to its drying up.

The river flows to its fullest only during the monsoon season in the last few years, and this year Kerala has had a particularly bad monsoon and you can see the river much dried up.

The British laid the current railway track parallel to the course of the river from Parli in Palakkad through Shoranur (a major railway junction in North Kerala) and up to Tirunnavaya (the last station on the line). The railway line is thus an inseparable part of the contemporary history of Nila.

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I recently went on a rail-fanning trip to Bharathapuzha. It has been one of my greatest wishes to visit the banks of the river and check out the trains gliding over the majestic rail bridges over the Nila, ever since I was a kid.

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Highlights of the trip included up and down rides on the Bharathapuzha railway bridges on the Ernakulam-Shoranur Passenger and Shoranur-Trivandrum Venad Express (check out video), a dip in the river beneath the bridges where I had oodles of fun waving out to passengers in the trains, a visit to a local toddy shop and finally some action packed rail-fanning at Shoranur Junction and Bharathapuzha (check out the videos of the diesel and electric action).

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Needless to say, with the sun playing hide-and-seek, intermittent showers and constant rail action, the atmosphere was simply enticing. Indeed, one of my best rail-fanning journeys ever!

Enjoy the videos!

Here are a few pics from a journey over Bharathapuzha in December 2006.

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Express trains on the Bharathapuzha Railway Bridge

Freight train (push-pull) action at Shoranur Junction

Parasuram Express at Shoranur Junction

WDM3D action at Shoranur Junction

WAP4 action at Shoranur Junction

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The Best of Indian Railways January 20, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Indian Railways, Travel.
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5 comments

Here are 2 mash-ups of my rail-fanning adventures across India in 2006 & 2007.

Highlights:

  • Mangalore bound Parasuram Express bleating its horn at Valapattanam
  • Speeding through a Mumbai local station
  • Trainspotting at Varanasi
  • Konkan Jan Shatabdi at Divankhavati
  • Overtaking a MG train at Kollam outer
  • WCAM/WAG banker freight action on the ghats at Igatpuri
  • Mumbai bound Ratnagiri Superfast Express entering Jalgaon
  • Cucumber seller at Jalgaon
  • High-speed rail action / crossings in the Kollam-Kayankulam stretch and Kannur
  • Footplating on the WAP4
  • RORO train on Konkan Railways
  • Double-headed WDM2 freight action after Madgaon
  • Friendly railway staff on Konkan Railway
  • Kerala Express spotted at Aluva and Kollam outer

The background score in this video is from Androsphynx & TechnoDaftpunk, but I have also preserved the original sound from the clipss so that you can hear the train beats and the loco horns.


The background score of this video is a song from the Tamil movie Aran. No train beats, just rail action!


Hope you enjoy them!

The WAP4 Ride January 7, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Indian Railways, Travel.
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3 comments

Moi with a WAP4, Ernakulam

The WAP4 is one of my favorite electric locos. (Well, I’ve an internal tussle going on for the favorite spot between the WDM2 and the WAP4, but that can wait later).

Here’s a video of my first ever footplate* ride on a WAP4 in Kerala in 2007. The ride was awesome as we cruised along lush greenery. Check out the assistant loco pilot call out the signals. Creating this video required some deft editing skills, especially since I didn’t want to show the loco drivers. Windows Movie Maker rocks. Enjoy the ride.

 

Footplating
To ride in the cab of a locomotive, from the old term footplate from steam days, referring to the horizontal surface projecting from the locomotive frame, on which the loco cab was constructed. Although diesels and electrics do not have a footplate like that, the terminology persists.
Source:
http://www.irfca.org/faq/faq-jargon.html