Trip Report to Makalidurga
by Naren Damodaran
For photos from this trip, please visit Makalidurga Trip Photos.
On Sunday, Anil, Sandeep, Anupama and myself embarked upon a bike ride to do the ghat section after Dodballapur and also to do some railfanning on the ghat line.
The ghat line begins about 10km after Dodballapur and continues for about 20-30 km till Gauribidanur.
The main section is centered around Makalidurga, where the line climbs steeply and then begins a long descent to Thondebhavi and then levels out to Gauribadanur.
Makalidurga is a station for namesake. But the station is what we fell in love with. A small building with a beautiful and neat garden, benches and running water!!!. It is a 2 line station with one line being the loop which also houses the 'platform' which is at track height and not the normal platform we see. The station is cut out from the rocks and thus the lines and station lie in a sort of a ridge. Most importantly, this place is clean for miles and hardly any humans are to be seen though we do find our chain represented by a large number of monkeys!!
The loop line is long at this station as it caters as a crossing station where most trains are crossed both ways.
We camped at the outer signal in the midst of trees and hills which made the scene even more beautiful and the station was lost to sight around the curve. The line could be seen for about 10 km further as it twisted and wound across the land. There was an excellent S curve across the facade of the hill wherein the train would head into the hill one moment and the next it would be directly facing us head on!!
As soon as we trekked off the road, past thorns and rocks, and thankfully no human leftovers, and climbed the steep embankment that held the lines, we saw smoke in the distance and a minute later spotted the silver lined roof of the train about 5km away.
After a while, it seemed like an eternity to us rail thirsty men, the faint rumble of a coasting train could be heard and soon the WDM-2 of Maula Ali greeted us with it's presence as it coasted through with the drivers all to happy to see us!! The train was the KCG-YPR Express and the WDM-2 was clearly enjoying the prospect of thrashing a meagre 12 coach load.
Anil and me did a little more trekking to find the MG line that lay to the left of the BG line and we found it. Of course there were no more rails but the outline of where the lines once lay still remained with some ballast embedded in the ground.
We also found the MG dead line that is in the centre. Hence there are 3 bridges lying in a line side by side over a small rivulet...this was an amazing sight!!.
Anil and me walked to the station to find out what were the next trains due in, and as we were admiring the scenery around the quaint station we heard a gentle swoosh and it turned out to be an empty goods rake with a Shakti from KJM 13024 that was on the loop to enable the 'King of Good Times' Karnataka Express to cross.
As we were pretty far away from the outer and we couldn't cross the goods train we had to jog to the outer signal to catch the Karnataka.
We checked out the Shakti and it was manufactured in June 2003. So that means that since the latest Shakti sighting a couple of days ago where a new one numbered 13086 was seen with mfg as March 2004, 6 Shaktis a month are beiing churned out by DLW!!!Amaazing!!!
As we were admiring the Shakti, which is a very very handsome loco, we heard the sound of distant thunder. Lo and behold across the hillside, we saw the King approaching. Led by a bright orange/red WDM-2 and another WDM-2 was the infamous ET Twin Karnataka Express.
In a few moments he thundered into view with a majestic and smooth arrival and began to notch up as soon as he had crossed us.! To see the Karnataka Express in full bloom is a sight to behold!
We then rode on, and on the way we saw a KJM WDG-3B and ED WDx Loco with a goods load. The locos were both short hood forward. Means that the KJM loco was lashed up to this section somewhere.
Some wonderful snaps from the road were taken by Anupama, to whom I take my hat off, as it was her first time taking snaps of these trains!!..and she did a good job. As usual we had Master Anil educate us on the model of the loco.
As we were returning an hour later, we came across a strange sight. At Thondebhavi the YPR-GNT pass led by GTL WDM-2 was waiting for a crossing of the CMB-LTT Express.
As we headed away, we suddenly saw the CMB-LTT with twin GTL's on the hillside. It was crawling. Most probably the PA WDM-3A had failed the previous night itself and hence last nights train from LTT was hauled by these twins itself.
In about 5 minutes the SBC-ADI Express followed with a KJM WDM-3A blasting thru.
As soon as we entered Makalidurga station, the Prashanti came in and stopped on the main line to wait for the GNT-YPR pass to come in from Thondebhavi.
We checked out the GY loco 18889 R in ED colour, it is a regular for the Prashanti sharing it's duties with the other GY loco that we love 14042 baldie!
The WDM-3A was as majestic as could be!!
The YPR-GNT Pass came in with some smokin action. A dead new liveried ED WDM-2 trailed the leading loco.
Soon the green was given to the Prashanti. And what a departure!! First the chief notched up smoke and fire, then just coasted for about a minute and then HE OPENED UP!!!!!!Smoke belched from the depths of this monster and the motors could be heard whirring in satisfaction of being revved up as they should. Within minutes the train was doing around 80Kmph and blasted out of the limits to coast away to the next station...amaziing!!!This is next to the Karnataka by way of sight!!!
We left for home and on the way we stopped off at another spot to see the Beast WDP-4 led KCG Express. We could see the line ahead for about 5 km. This the WDP-4 20003 LHF covered like a sprinter on the last 10m!!!We had barely time to get off the tracks as it blasted past at around 90 Kmph with a happy and young driver at the controls!! This is the fastest any one of us has seen the WDP-4 with KCG do ever!!!
As we were heading back home we saw another freight with a Shakti heading toward Dodballapur.
All in all a fantastic day and a blast!!