Gadag Jn. - Bijapur
Part 1 (of 2)
184 km. 23 Sept., 1966
This was a part of the 278-km long, erstwhile Southern Mahratta line that connected Gadag Jn on the then m.g. W/E Vasco-da-Gama - Londa - Hubli - Guntakal - Guntur - Vijayawada - Machilipatnam line with Hotgi Jn. in the N. and then to Sholapur on the Bombay - Madras b.g. trunk route. The Bijapur - Sholapur section is already converted to b. g., the converted Bagalkot - Bijapur section is soon to open for traffic, while the Gadag - Bagalkot section is still metric. In Sept., 1966, my Australian friend and I travelled this region and covered the above section as an excursion out of Gadag Jn., returning to it before proceeding to Hubli and then to Karwar by road.
By a long, yet crowded, YP-hauled Guntur-Gadag Passenger we reached Gadag at 2029 on 22 Sept. from Hospet on single track, m.g. The parallel broad gauge from Guntakal for ore traffic had ended at Hospet. Had dinner (my friend stays vegetarian while travelling) in the Dining Hall - it was filling for Rs. 1:85 P. each, but flat in taste. Seeing a foreigner dining, the manager brought out the Suggestions & Complaints Register, in which my friend wrote a few words of appreciation (which were duly taken note of by the periodic inspection committee, as he was informed by a letter received at Madras from the Railways months later). Both of us slept fitfully, myself on a wooden bench on the platform and my friend on a sheet of cloth spread on the floor of the upper class waiting room - for there was no vacant bench inside. The night was quite chill for me at this altitude. The week-long Ganesh festival was drawing to a close in the town, crackers being burst all around, much more loudly and continuously than during Deepavali in Madras. Trains, passenger and goods, kept roaring in and out - for there was considerable ore traffic out of Bellary on the m.g. towards Goa Harbour. Both of us got up by 0545, took bath in the UCWR, had breakfast and got Class III tickets (Rs. 4:40 P.) for Bijapur.
Gadag was a rather big station but with just a single, long platform, much of it sheltered, facing N, and receiving trains in three sections of it by scissors-crossings; had a bay on the southern side of its Wn. end. The main line was actually the third track, beyond which was another loop, past which were the shunting yards, loco shed and goods shed.
.. Gadag Jn. (2126') The long Hubli - Sholapur Passenger came in a few mins. ahead of schedue (0655), hauled by a YB. There was a reversal of direction here, and a YG was attached at the Wn. end. Was fairly crowded, but clambered into a carriage to occupy corner seats vacated by some getting down. d 0717.
Ran W, then veered steadily away from the Hubli line to assume a Nly direction. The land was quite plain, sloping gently down to E, with dark grey, slightly moist soil - the famous black cotton soil. But all lay bare then, with occasional patches of coarse grains. Ran mostly straight N, sometimes a little to the E or W of it .
(13) Hombal (2065' ) a ... d .... Pfm at left, loop to the right (E)
(22) Balaganur (1982' ) a 0748, d 0750, with one loop to the left, pfm. at right just past a brief siding.
(31) Mallapur (1938' ) a 0802, 0815. Pfm at right (E) with two loops and goods sheds and stores to the left. A small stall. Quite a few Mysore state buses in the stand just outside the station. The terrain was plain, broken by a chain of ridges to the E and NE, over 5 km. away, with similar, but less conspicuous ridges in the distant W. Quite some cultivation to the W. Waited for an up Pass. which came in at 0808.
That was cotton territory. As we ran further N, it became evident that the ridges closing in ahead from the E and the W actually the formed wall of a river basin.
(42) Somankatti Halt (1883' ) a 0828, d 0829. No loop of siding, nor any pfm. but a tiny corrugated G. I. booking office on the left (W). Slight right curve into N-NNE, across more of black cotton soil, bare but occasionally with crops of millets.
(49) Hole-Alur (1770' ) a 0838, d 0847. A medium-sized station; pfm, partly sheltered, at left; 3 loops to the right, with a goods shed. Maize grown on both the sides around some tin-roofed houses. A ridge stared from ahead in the N. some 3-4 km away.
Within a km to the N. of the station crossed R. Malaprabha by 16 x 40' pony truss bridge and hit the SEn face of a 100' ridge, turned left (NW) to ascend it, after having descended 356' since Gadag over nearly 50 km. to the river. (I could not note down the gradients being seated on the other side). Hitting a low pass, curved right, again into NNE, to enter
(56) Lakhmapur (1882' ) a 0903, d 0905 - a long pfm. with a small office at the left; a loop to the right.
We were climbing up again; the soil had changed colour abruptly to red-brown just after we had crossed the pass; some maize amidst stunted trees. A few red sandstone hillocks to the left, but a chain of them arched out to the fore-right and in again to close ahead. Curved to the left, with a road closing in on the right and crossing over into fore-left as we cleared the pass.
(68) Badami (1905' ) a 0920, d 0922, quite a big station with a pfm at the right (E), but stopped only briefly.
We were close to the historic site of Vatapi, the capital of the early Chalukya empire. The famous cave temples, the earliest dating back to the mid-6th century, some 5 km to the E, and the fort were invisible from the railway station. Pattadkal, 16 km. to NE by road and Aiholi, another 8 km in the same direction, had many temples, Hindu and Jain, dating back to the 7th or 8th century, but we had no time to go to these places.
Curved left, ran in a NNWly direction, cleared another gap in a chain of hillocks and emerged into a saucepan-like basin. Curved again to NNE, traversing an undulating terrain, covered with patches of grass on light red-brown soil. Did a steady 64 kmph, crossing a few streams that irrigated patches of jowar fields.
(81) Guledagudda Road (1843' ) a 0937, d 0942. Platform at right, with a couple state-run buses waiting just outside the station; a long loop and a shorter one on the right with a goods shed. The road curved ahead from W to E, with another bus held up at the level-crossing near some rock-walled houses.
Ran almost straight, first crossing a shallow depression, with scattered stones and sparse bushes, then across another depression with a little farming around brick-walled houses. Miles ahead, another wall of a ridge stared at us past open terrain. The soil again abruptly turned black, and the land flatter. Curved to the right to enter
(94) Bagalkot (1762' ) a 0958, d 1020. We were received on the main track which had no platform; pfm. for the loop at left (to W), on which waited a Hubli-bound train. The engines of both trains collected water. Two loops to the right, then a large GI goods shed, one half of it unwalled, past which were more sidings. The quite large town lay to the W. .
- This was the first tour when I tried to determine at regular intervals the direction in which the train was going, by using spherical geometry with respect to the sun's apparent position in the sky; later on, looking at some good maps of the region, I realized how wrong I had often gone, especially as the noon approached. The directions in this report are corrected wherever feasible. Perhaps, I should always add E&OE at the end of my reports!
- Bagalkot, then part of Bijapur district, depended on dryland agriculture, producing very little rice due to lack of irrigation facilities. though R. Ghatprabha flowed close to the town, Malprabha to the S. and the mighty R. Krishna some 30 km away to the N, marking the border between Bijapur and the newly-carved Bagalkot districts. The main crops were millets like jowar, oilseeds and cotton.There were no industries except a few cotton mills. Iron and copper deposits in the district were yet to be exploited.
Part 2 (of 2)
184 km. 23 Sept., 1966
Out of Bagalkot ran NNE, with R. Ghatprabha to our left (W) for a while, turned away from it into NE, crossed a stream by a 60' girder bridge; then with the stream on our left, hit the ghat, ran into a gap between two hillocks. Past a bend in the stream on the left, crossed the dry bed of another by a 40' bridge. Gently curving to the right following the contours of a ridge on our left, we ran NE past some jowar cultivated in the gently rolling plain to the right; then curved left to hit a pass in the ridge, cleared through a 20' cutting, then kinked to the left to enter, due N-NNE,
(108) Kadlimatti (1912' ) a 1041, d 1052. The station was in a 40' deep cutting with a pfm. serving the loop on which we were received. A double-headed goods train came in from Bijapur at 1045. We had climbed up some 150 ft. since Bagalkot, with a descent ahead. Ran overlooking alternately at ravines and hillocks to the right (SE) and, on clearing the cutting, the plain to the left was exposed to the view. Descended, past some maize crops, curving twice to run into NNE, cleared the hills and passed through a trough with 20 - 40' high rises on both sides. Curving to the left entered
(121) Chitimani (1663' ) a 1109, d 1117. A foot-high pfm. at right, curving along with the left-curving track; two sidings 2 m above the track level to the left.We had descended nearly 250 ft. since Kadlimatti. A road had closed in just outside the station. On the elevations on both the sides were red-tiled shacks. Ran NNW, emerged out of the trough with the ridge on the right rising up nearly 100 m and ending precipitously, with a rock pillar atop, and poking like a finger towards R. Krishna, which was crossed by a truss bridge of total length nearly 4000 ft. Water was flowing over much of its bed, though not in depth. At the other end of the bridge, was a stream joining Krishna to our right, with a low ridge beyond, tiled shacks perking on it. The stream kept company with the 20' high embankment of our track for over a km. and we ascended to a low ledge with further rises on our left, but these receded rapidly.
(124) Almatti (1672' ) a 1124, d 1129. A quite large station, foot-high pfm. at right, three loops on the left (W). The environs were rugged, the bottom of the trough being nearly 3 km wide and occasionally cultivated .
Then NNW across a shallow depression,
(132) Wandal Halt (1824' ), passed non-stop, with a tiny office level with the track. We had ascended nearly 150 ft. in 8 km. since Almatti just past the river. Then across an undulating plateau, with the tributary at some distance to our right
(140) Telgi (1880' ) a 1150, d 1208. Arrd. on time. A compact station, but with quite a few loops and sidings. Aligned N/S, with foot-high pfm. for the loop at right (E) with the town just outside. A goods shed on a short siding jutting out of the Nn. end of the pfm. Two more loops to the left with shunting lines beyond. A larger goods shed on that side .
Past Telgi ran across a 3-km wide plateau which dropped ahead.
(145) Kudgi Halt (1824'). a ... , d 1219. No loops nor sidings; a tiny hall with walls of wooden planks and roof of tin sheet.
Hill range some 10 km to the left past a shallow depression; a deeper, wider one to the right extending for about 15 km (Long distances can be deceptive to estimate). Very little cultivation; coarse grass with a few scattered trees. We were ascending again along the tongue-like plateau as the depression to the left became as wide as that to the right. Then plots of jowar.
(159) Mulvad (2043' ) a 1239, d 1241. Lantern posts and a small VLR stall on pfm. at right, with a few houses outside (E); two loops on the left and a brief one on the right just past the Nn. end of the pfm. An ascent of 220 ft. since the last station. Dry wasteland on light brown soil, spotted with a few trees.
Descended the tongue, crossed R. Don by 8 x 100' pony truss bridge with a little water flowing on its bed; joined by a road on the left
(166) Honaganahalli (1924' ) a 1250, d 1251, a tin cubicle serving as booking office. Little else.
The road crossed over into our foreright as we ran across a mostly waste terrain, overall level, with longitudinal undulations, parallel to our track; occasional patches of maize.
(171) Jumnal (2054' ) a 1300, d 1302. A small brick-walled and tiled office on a foot-high, sand-filled pfm, with lantern posts, at right; two loops on the left. No dwellings in the vicinity .
Curved right, ran N, then NNE, across a shallow depression, descending a little as the grey, basalt structure of Gol Gumbaz came into view at a distance ahead. Dry wasteland all around with stunted trees and bits of jowar here and there. Curved left and, skirting the En wall of the fort-city, entered
(184) Bijapur (1963' ), a 1321 (4 min. ahead). A rather large station with just a single, long pfm., aligned N/S, on the left (W) of a loop, track 2 being the main line. The pfm. had a number of offices, stalls, cloak room and a vegetarian dining hall. To the right (E) of the main track were three lops, the last tunnelling through a long goods shed, beyond which there were a few small buildings and nothing else - just open wasteland.
The historic city, lying just to the W of the station, had too many monuments to be seen during a brief halt. But who would miss the Gol Gumbaz, the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah (d. 1656), which has the world's largest dome (124 ft. dia.), second only to that of St. Peter's in Rome, but covering a larger area. After lunching in the dining hall, we walked 400 metres through a gate in the En wall to the tomb. It did not impress me at first, looking very simple. Only on getting inside, after paying an entry fee of 20 paise, it slowly dawned on me, a person not much taken to art or architecture, what a magnificent edifice it was. It is better seen in person than read described. Climbing up the winding stairs, we reached the eighth corridor just below the dome, where even the faintest whisper was echoed manifold. We snapped our fingers, clapped our hands and my friend even played a short melody on his recorder (a flute) and everything reverberated many times, magnified in intensity. Exiting reluctantly, we hired a tonga for Rs. 5/- to take us around the principal monuments in densely built, slightly elliptical town.
Returned to the station and caught the 1755 YG-hauled Passenger back to Gadag.
-  The multi-purpose Upper Krishna Project, involving the construction of a dam across R. Krishna at Almatti, and a smaller one at Narayanpur downstream, to irrigate the drought-prone districts of Bagalkot and Bijapur, as well as Raichur and Gulbarga to the E, was first conceived in 1964, two years before I travelled this line, but works commenced only after 1970. Initially funded by the World Bank, its cost sky-reocketed due to its implementation in stages, which were delayed over four decades, partly due to disputes with other states, resulting in cost overruns. Much of Bagalkot town was submerged by the Almatti Reservoir, backing up along R. Ghatprabha. Nearly 100,000 people were rehabilitated in a new township, constructed at a higher elevation in the SW. The Almatti Dam was dedicated to the nation by the President just earlier this week, on 21 August 2006.
- Sizeable sections of the m.g. line near Bagalkot town and in the vicinity of Almatti, 30 km. down the line towards Bijapur, must have been realigned during the gauge conversion of the line which is nearing completion. Besides redesigning, some stations might have been shifted by significant distances. This is reflected in the distances of the m.g. stations (from Gadag Jn) as given in the Nov., 1975 All-India Railway Timetable, their corresponding distances on the b.g. line as given in the July, 2006 Southern Zone Timetable (with the section yet to open for traffic) being shown in parentheses - for clarity, the new stations appearing on the b.g. line are omitted.
- 94 (93) Bagalkot, 108 (108) Kadlimatti, 121 (119) Sitimani, 124 (129) Almatti, 132 (138) Wandal, 140 (146) Basavana Bagewadi Road, 145 (151) Kudgi, 159 (165) Mulvad, 166 (172) Honaganahalli, 184 (191) Bijapur.
- Distances given in timetables are those rounded off to the next higher integer and so direct comparisons may not reveal the exact extents of realignment during gauge conversion. On the whole, the new alignment takes an extra 8 km to reach Bijapur from Bagalkot.
- While the latest time table gives the distance from Gadag to Balgalkot on the still operating m.g. line as 94 km., it gives the same as 93 km on the to be commissioned b.g. line from Bagalkot to Bijapur. Is Bagalkot station itself being relocated by nearly a km. closer to the Gadag end and nearer the new township? Kadlimatti, at the summit of the ridge between Bagalkot and R. Krishna appears to remain where it was. The major realignments must be between Sitimani and Wandal: the distance by the m.g. between Sitimani and Almatti was a mere 3 km; it will be 10 km by b.g. Understandable as the dam has come up at Almatti and its reservoir has in all likelihood submerged the troughs and valleys which the m.g. line used. An increase of 6 km is maintained Wandal up to Honeganalli, indicating negligible realignment; the extra km thereafter for Bijapur might have been for touching Ibrahimpur, a new station.
- The new stations appearing on the b.g. timetable, with their distances from Gadag, are: (102) Mugalolli, (113) Jaradanu Kunte Halt, (125) Kudala Sangama Road Halt, (134) Benal Halt, (143) Angadageri Halt, (158) Kalgurki Halt and (186) Ibrahimpur.
- While detouring from Sitimani to Almatti, the b.g. line will touch a new station for the Road to Kudala Sangama, the site, at the confluence of Malprabha and Krishna, of the samadhi of Basavanna, the 12th century founder of the Veerashaiva (Lingayat) sect.
- While parts of the realignment must have been necessitated by the submergence of terrain under Almatti reservoir, some must be due to easing of the grades dictated by the broader gauge, and yet others for passing through new stations. These can be understood only if the details of the new alignment, vis a vis the old, are known. Have these been discussed in IRFCA before? Or, can some member, who is in the know, explain?
-  The name of this station seems to have been altered to Basavana Bagewadi Road sometime before Nov., 1975.
-  Jumnal which existed at the 171st km on the m.g. line, and was also shown at (176) in the Indian Bradshaw of Feb., 2005 (while GC was taking place), is deleted in July 2006 timetable. Is the station being closed down in the new dispensation?