The Del'hi'cious Fusion
by Saurab Basu
Return to My Childhood Days … Delhi - 'The Sultanate of the Mughals' - Revisited
"Delhi", the name itself has an inspiring effect to me. It is not because this is the Capital of my nation, nor is it because of being the centre for some of India's Royal Most Architectures, but instead this place brings me back the sweet memories, of my Childhood, the days when I was a kid, nurturing towards the first platform of my life. The Call for the Birthplace is always special, because this has the touch to the starting point of your life. And I could not resist it, this time, after a long gap of 16 Years, since I left and settled in Calcutta. The initial plans to stay for a long time in Delhi, was soon to be extinct. With fellow IRFCAn Subhabrata Chattopadhyay joining me, this turned out to be a historic trip altogether, with aims to reach some of the most unexpected destinations, in search of 'pure magic'.
Sorting out a merger for both of us was a bit of hectic. Still we managed it and decided to start on the 24th of March 2006, by the 2301 UP - Calcutta Rajdhani Express (HWH - NDLS), by A.C. - Three Tier (3A), expecting our luck to turn good for the newly started, State-of-the-art German Technology - L.H.B. (Linke - Hauffman - Bushche) Service. Rabibrata, Samit, Subhabrata and myself, we had spotted the first Working LHB Service at Howrah, quite sometime back, now. Anyways, having brought all the set of Tickets, according to the chalked plan, it was now time to flag off for this Bon Voyage.
Day One: Flagging Off from Howrah:
We were to meet at Howrah Station, by 03:30 PM, sharp, with the Scheduled Departure Time being 16:15 Hrs. It was a working day for me, and I called it a day, early. Reached Home by 01:00 PM, and after a quick lunch, it was time to wrap things and start. Took a cab, from my place to Howrah, with my parents feeling happy about revisiting the old days, they shared in and around Delhi, while to me it was going to be a thrilling experience of harmonizing the faint memories with today's realities. Midway, a call from Subhabrata, confirmed his arrival at Howrah Station, and now the Monginis Food Plaza was going to be our meeting point. We were soon to reach, following a long queue of 'Taxing' Cabs. Subhabrata was at the Cafeteria, having lunch. We shared a round of words, with a Soft Drink to settle the heat, and then it was almost 03:50 PM. After having negotiated with his appetite, Subhabrata and Me, we had a go towards the Platform Areas. The WDS - 6R - 36000, was huffing and puffing after having brought in the Mayurakshi Fast Passenger for Rampurhat, on the Ptatform No. - 5. A Down EMU Local from tarakeshwar was to arrive soon on the adjoining Platform No. - 4.
While we were sorting things out and walking around, the Announcement of 2301 Cal - Rajdhani Express departing from Platform No. - 7, turned up. The first thing that was working in our mind was, is it LHB? And you bet the answer. We were Lucky, to get it right this time. It was the first experience of traveling in a Brand New Train, with the best windows available. I told my parents "You are going to travel this, the German Way", and they gave me the prize smile. I was satisfied with the Start, as this was the way I would have deserved it to be. Our Coach Number - AS7 was the third one from the Power. It was just day dreaming, with a brand new rake, number reading - 05102 / A, and the best ever Window Seat, I got to travel with, on IR till now. We had 15 minutes before the show started, and so it was a peep at the Loco, before settling down with things moving. The Loco disappointed us, with a WAP - 4 - 22437 being allocated. The rusty look, made LHB loose some of its pride, definitely if not all. This was one of the old genre P4 Locos with the Waist Level Headlight, resembling the WAP - 1's.
Immediately after this, Subhabrata gave a call to Samit, and we told him that we got it! He was happy, and we were bubbling with an invincible joy of achievement, by now. Departure was dot on time, when the clock touched the 15th minute of 16:00 Hrs Cycle, and Man, it was a smooth start. We got ourselves a Side Lower and Side Upper, while the other two seats were Middle and an Upper Berth, for our overnight journey. The Toilets of the LHB's are just like the ones in Flights. They have a Two Fold Sliding Door. The Automated Water dispensing system prevents loss of the same, and the Flushing System is designed in an Eco-Friendly manner, so as to prevent the wastes from being thrashed in the Platform areas. Instead the mode will dispense the wastes when the train is at a speed of 30 kmph or above so that it is degraded and nature soluble. This is what I could gather from one of the staffs nearby.
Subhabrata had printed some photographs from his immaculate collection, and was carrying them as a portfolio. Going through his collection, when time went by, it was never known, and we were served the first round of refreshing snacks. This included a couple of bread pieces, with butter, a Paneer - Ala - Fry with some French fries, and a Mango Drink (Mfg by Ditto - Tetra Pack). The Snack Pack was not too impressive, because of the cold servings, but still, this was a much desired appetite. A round of Tea after this, and things seemed to settle down. The prima focus being on the crystal clear window screen, we kept waiting for Andal, our dream spot, to arrive. The Glory of the dusking Sun, was soon to emphasize its charm upon the rolling tracks, and transform them to an unparalleled beauty of 24 Caret Pure Gold. LHB was something happening to us!
Andal outer was soon to arrive, but the evening time, had no activity in this region. It was just a couple of the patent Shaktis that we could gather, and nothing more could be identified, as it was already dark outside. The evening show was now over, and preparations for on-board gossips, were on swing. A group, were engaged already in the World of Solitaire, while another was preparing for a circle of Musical Games, potent of affecting our lives, with their arbitrarily tuned voices. Life is so vibrant!
While my parents, got engaged in gossiping with a couple of fellow aged passengers, Subhabrata and Myself, we thought of having a go at the 'Hot Buffet Car' of this Rajdhani. By the way, those of you who are not aware of the term, 'Hot Buffet Car' stands for the 'Pantry Car' and Rajdhani Express has a couple of them, at your service, from time to time. And boy, you bet, the staff was as friendly as you could expect. We had a nice round of photographs, after traversing through 9 Coaches, and finally reaching the Pantry Car at the Front End. Some of the most beautifully dressed Salads and cooks were being prepared, ready to steam up the dining dishes. Having spent some time, in the 'Hot Buffer Car', we started back for our Coach. My Camera was again to play the negative game of betrayal. Time has made me resistant, and this incident made me even more decisive towards the Digital Move.
Soon, it was time for the Tomato Soup and Bread Sticks to be served. The soup was just ok, and no more ranking could be added. We were now waiting for the Big One! Expecting Dinner and moreover a delicious plate of Chicken, after so long, was simply irresistible. And the Railways did not deny us. IRCTC did a good job, for this one, and we were served steaming hot rice, hand made bread - Roti / Chappathi, A plate of the unlikely Dal Fry, a patent potato based dish - Sabji, a cubicle box of Fresh Green Salad and of course delicious Chicken Curry. I have to say it delicious, although it was not that great in quality, but the taste of Chicken after such a long gap, felt good. A good tight supper, followed by a cup of ice cream and some cold drink (the cold drink was not included in the dinner), was quite a wholesome appetite for the night. My parents had a choice to play with, at this point of time, and opted for the Side Upper and Side Lower Berths for the night and Subhabrata was left out with the Middle, while I got up on the upper one. I felt bad for Subhabrata, who was adjusting, so much. Special thanks for that, is always there.:-)
After this it was a smooth Night, filled with the ambitious dreams about the following days to come. The LHB Ride was rather smooth. No Jerks at all. We had a conception, that LHB was jerky, but in fact it was as smooth as silk. So comfortable, that I had an uninterrupted sleep. Only one point worth noting was that the berth space was diminished a bit, to increase the movement space within the coach interiors.
Day Two: Reaching New Delhi and The First Day at The National Railway Museum
Morning saw us at Kanpur, with a long stopover there. News came up with a Loco failure, and we got to know that our train was now more than 2 Hrs Late. Although this was not good news to most of the passengers, still I appreciated my luck this time. This was 2 hours of Free L.H.B. experience, on the cards, and no Rail Fan would want to miss it. We were soon allocated another WAP - 4 from Kanpur Central, and things started rolling again.
The view just after passing the Kanpur Station, was a distinct one. The WDS - 4 Locos here made the look very distinguished. They were freshly painted in the Orange and Cream Livery, and looked just sparkling bright. And Yes, the WDS - 4 Locomotives were All active, unlike their counterparts, falling apart in complete disarray in the eastern part of the country, courtesy Sealdah Division. Movement was smooth after this, although the Bridge of an hour and a half, could really not be made up, and spotting a various range of Beasts made up for a perfect Morning Show.
The only thing that was constantly running at the back of our minds was that, whether we could be able to visit the National Railway Museum after reaching New Delhi that day.
Spotting continued after Kanpur, where the first WAG - 7 of the day, was spotted in regular Blue Livery, with the road number being 27510 - CNB. A hot pot of Morning Tea, was waiting my attention all through and now I could not make it wait for long. Breakfast was soon to be served, in form of a couple of Bread Pieces, soft and lofty, and with a standard Omlette, that came with some French fries and a Mango Drink. I am not used to such a heavy breakfast, so early in the day, and so I had a part of it, but Yes the Mango drink was a good refresher. Sipping on another cup of tea, saw us at the Tundla JN, with a peeping Tom - OHE Vehicle - NCR 8426, in a standard EMU Livery, was having a morning sun bath. Just before we entered Tundla, a WAG - 9 (Probably the second of the series of Locos) - 31001 - ECR - GMO was waiting to leave with a loaded number of Coal Rakes. The roll continued past Tundla Jn, with the Trip Shed having an ugly looking WAM - 4 - 21309 from Bhusawal waiting its turn for a move out.
Shortly after this, on the opposite direction, the Outgoing North East Express, powered by WA - 4 - 22574 (Not sure about the Shed) entering slowly, while we passed her off her style. One thing that was noticeable is that the Landscape changes so drastically just after you leave Bengal. The Greenery of Bengal is soon to be overtaken by the dryness and the Brown fields of the Northern Peninsula. The far down carpets of Green is now replaced by Brown and Stray fields waiting eagerly for nature to paint them green all through.
Architecturally also, the pattern of Houses and road layouts differ a lot. The Houses stand like a cluster with less or even no gap between one and the other, unlike the ones in other parts of the country, where you find a minimum percentage of space between two residential constructions. Here you can easily cover an entire locality, if you climb up the terrace of one building.
It was not long after this that we reached New Delhi railway Station, with a pleasant Surprise (Surprise to us, regularity to this Region) - a WDP - 3 Class Locomotive standing right in front, as if holding the Banner with writings on it - "Welcome to My Territory". By then we had been called by Rajeev's Deputy, who was already in the station, waiting for the Sweets we had taken. Arrival at New Delhi was at 13:10 Hrs, late by more than 2 Hours from Schedule, and within a Flash of time, we found the person arrived to us, for the Greeting Sweets. We handed them over swiftly with a gesture of gratitude and started our way, after a bit of negotiations with the Red Branded Porters, finally settling with the best deal to take us to the Taxi Stand. Within this time, I just could not take the Coach Composition and the rake Numbering Details, but still managed our Coach Number. It was a brand New 2005 Make coach, reading 05102/A - Coach Number - AS7 - AC - III Tier Sleeper Coach. Bidding Adieu to the LHB Beauty, and with higher anticipations for the later part of the Trip, we started our way to the Capital City, the city that showed me the first dawn of life.
The Taxi took us to the Hotel, which was already booked from Kolkata (Coutesy - Subhabrata),within 45 minutes at the cost of Rs. 250/-. We were to board at Sanjoy Lodge - Chittaranjan Park - Near Market - 2. This is an area in Delhi completely dominated by the Bengali Community. You feel at home, if you are a Bengali and you are here! And another aspect is that a Bengali always goes in Search of another of his counterpart. So we were finally settled with a couple of spacious rooms with standard facilities on offer. Quickly we had a freshening session, and kept our bags and baggage's and started in a flash for the National Railway Museum - Chanakyapuri.
The Auto Rickshaws, in this part of the country, run on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). And Delhi is proud to be the first city in India to provide Eco - Friendly Transportation Solutions. So we decided to start the proceedings with a CNG based Auto, and reached N.R.M within 45 minutes.
The National Railway Museum (N.R.M.) -
After purchasing tickets @ Rs. 10/- per head, we made entry to this hub of the Great Indian Railways, much of which was heard about and other half was to be explored by ourselves, in this weekend. We had plans to visit the NRM on Saturday, just to do the chalking out and the next day was just to explore it all. And so we did. By 15:30 Hrs we were in and had good time to go through the first half of the Museum and shoot the speculation of variety, the radiance of which made me enthralled at the first sight. The MTR - 2 Locomotive welcomes every visitor with an appeal to revisit the engineering of time. This was the starting of one of the best ever Loco Spotting evening, I shared with the Railways! Here goes the Exhibit List and Details of Each (All Information given below is Courtesy - National Railway Museum):
- MTR - 2: Originally this Locomotive was built for the KARACHI Port Trust, by Dick Kerr & Co., London, in the year - 1910. This Loco had also worked for the Marala Timber Depot, from 1917 - 22, after which it was finally brought to Dhilwan Creosating Plant under the Northern Railway. This Narrow gauge Loco (2' 6") Loco now stands to congregate and acknowledge all the visitors about the history of Railways and the magnificence if this Museum.
- TJ - 643 - Jaipur State Railway Steam Locomotive: This tank Locomotive was used on the Jaipur State Railway for shunting operations. The Loco stands on the Left hand side of the Museum Entrance, with the Saloon Cars used by Jaipur State railway, undergoing restoration, followed by the Original Metre Gauge rake of the 'Palace on Wheels'. The MG Locomotive was manufactured by W.G.Bagnall Ltd., Stafford, UK, in the year - 1942, with its Maker's Number being 2646.
- Nilgiri Mountain Railway Coach: This Composite First and Third Class Coach was built by Gloucester Railway C&W Co., in the year - 1914, and used to ply on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, South Indian Rly, for the MG Services. The Coach Number being TF - 34, has a seating capacity of 8 Passengers in First Class and 44 Passengers in Third Class, and is adaptive to both Vacuum and Hand Brakes.
- F - 734 (RMR - Steam Loco): This was the first Locomotive to be completely manufactured in India, by the Ajmer Workshops in the Year - 1895, and was deployed by the Rajputana Malwa Railway for the MG Services. Later the steam Engine was also used by the Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway (BB&CI) System.
- E - 207 (RMR / JR): This Tender Type MG Locomotive, built in 1878 by the DUBS & Co, Glasgow, was used primarily for Mixed Traffic. Later it was modified by the Jodhpur Workshop in th year - 1912, as a saddle tank locomotive used gradually for shunting purposes till its retirement in 1952.
- Prince of Wales Saloon (RMR / BB& CI): This 4-Wheeler Saloon is among the oldest exhibits of the NRM. This was built by the Agra Workshop of the Rajputana Malwa Railway in 1875, for the use of Prince of Wales (Later King Edward - VII) during his visit to India for the Royal Durbar of 1876. The Milky White Liveried Salon Car, has seats for 4 Armed Guards, outside 2 on each side of the Coach. Two Emblems representing the British Royal Crowns are painted on the sides.
- FMA - 37302 (SMR): The locomotive originally built as FM Class, was later converted to FMA, after increasing the Coal capacity. This MG Loco was built in 1888 by the DUBS & Co, Glasgow and was deployed by Southern Maharatta Railway. The Maker's Number being 2373, was changed to FM - 118, which was further changed to FMA - 37302, after conversion.
- Maharaja of Mysore - Saloon Car: This Saloon Car exhibited in the NRM, constituted to be a part of a Three-Coach Special Train used by His Highness Maharaja Krishan Rao Wodeyar of Mysore. This coach could run both on Broad Gauge as well as Metre Gauge by changing the bogies during the journey, without disturbing the Royal occupants. Built in 1899 by the Bangalore Workshops of Mysore State railway on the under frame supplied by M/s Hurst Nelson of UK, the Car Number read CR 7341, with 8 Wheels and a Vacuum Brake system.
- YCG - 1 - 21900: This DC Locomotive was amongst the first to be used on the Madras - Tambaram MG Section. This section in turn being the first Metre Gauge section in Indian Railways to be electrified in 1930, used this Hawthron, Leslie & Co. built Loco under the South Indian Railway System. This Loco has a Bo-Bo Bogie with provisions for both Vacuum and Air Brakes.
- Fowler - 1004 (Diesel): This puny looking MG Diesel Locomotive was originally used to work light passenger trains on Gondal State railway, Saurashtra State Railway and later on the Western railway. During the extended spell of her life, she served as a shunter in the Ajmer Workshops. Built by John Fowler & Co, Leeds, U, this Loc had its Maker's Number as 4200031, later changed to SR 203 (under the Saurashtra railway) and retired as WR 1004 (under the Western Railway). The present day number she bears is that of SR 203, and is in rest after a glorious period of service from 1949 till 1970.
- P - 31652 (Steam): This BESA's design Metre Gauge Locomotive was built by the Ajmer Workshops of the Rajputana Malwa Railway, in the year - 1922-23, and was used for hauling Mail/Express Trains on the RMR. The Loco was originally provided with 54" wheels which was later upgraded to 57" to provide higher speed passenger traffic.Maker's Number read 171, which was renumbered to P - 31652.
- RD - 688 (NG - Steam): Built by Nasmyth, Wilson & Co Ltd., Manchester, UK, this Narrow gauge Loco was used for services in the Raipur - Dhamtari Section of the Bengal Nagpur Railway (BNR) and later South Eastern Railway. It was built in the year - 1929 for use in 2'6" Gauge Systems.
- WAM - 1 - 'JAGJIVAN RAM' - 20202 - CNB: The First AC Electric Locomotive - WAM - 1 - 20202 was dedicated to the service of the nation by Shri Jagjivan Ram, the then Railway Minister, in the Year - 1959, at Asansol Railway Station. Having a Maximum Permissible Speed (MPS) of 100 kmph, this was the Loco that marked the beginning of 25 KV, 50Hz AC Traction on the Indian Railway System. It was used to haul the Howrah - Kalka Mail and the Deluxe Express on the broad Gauge System, till October - 20th, Year - 1997, when it retired and was then brought to the NRM on the 5th of April, 1998. The Loco had been painted recently into a Bright Orange Livery, before which it had a rusted look, with distresses from the ages of time. The Loco has been named - "JAGJIVAN RAM". She retired from the Electric Shed - Kanpur (CNB).
- WAG - 1 - 'BIDHAN' - 20710 - BZA: This Class of Locomotives was the first class to be built by the Chittaranjan Locomotive Workshop (CLW). The first 25 Locos were obtained from a group of European Manufactureres. This is an Engine specially designed to haul Goods traffic. Manufatured by Siemens, in the Year - 1963-66, this particular Broad-Gauge Locomotive retired from the Electric Shed - Vijaywada (BZA), which is now famous for its 'Barbie Doll - (WAM - 4's).
- Saloon - RA - 51 (Maharaja of Bhavnagar): This Saloon Car was built in 1931 for the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, and subsequently it worked on the Western Railway System. The Saloon Car was manufactured with the best quality Teak Wood, and its interior reflects upon the tasteful furnishing towards the Royal Guests service.
- Diesel Loco - FOWLER - 390014 (NG): This Narrow Gauge (2'6") Diesel Locomotive provided with a Fowler Engine, was built by John Fowler & Co, Leeds, UK, and served the Bettu Tramways and The Rajkot and Saurashtra Railway till 1960.
- WT - 594: W.G. Bagnall built and imported from Stafford, UK, this Locomotive used to run on the vast Narrow Gauge (2'6") System of the Gaekwar Baroda State Railway and subsequently on the Western railway. It was built in 1925 and continued service till 1988.
- CS - 775: This Narrow Gauge Locomotive, which used to ply on the services between Shantipur and Nabadwip Ghat in the Sealdah Division of the Eastern Railway, is the lightest Locomotive that ever ran on the Indian Railway System. Built by W.G. Bagnall, Stafford, UK, in the year - 1927, this 2'6" NG Loco weighs 11.8 tonnes and it retired from Service in the Year - 1986.The Maximum Speed of this Locomotive was 13 Miles/hour.
- Fireless Locomotive: A unique Locomotive made by Henschell & Co, Germany, in the Year - 1953, this Steam Locomotive used to run without fire. It has a pressure vessel in which steam is collected from a boiler kept at a distance apart. But due to the constraint of Steam in collection, it was used only as a shunter during its limited tenure of service after Sindhri Fertilizers Co, in the Jute and Ordinance factories, where "Sparking is Strictly Prohibited". The Maximum Speed of this Broad Gauge Locomotive was 18.5 Miles/hour.
- Patiala State Monorail Trainway (PSMT - 4): The First section of an unusual Railway on the 'Ewing System', connecting BASSI with SIRHIND, covering a distance of 6 miles, started in the Sate of Patiala, in the Year - 1907. Col. Bowles who had primarily designed this system, became the State Engineer and went ahead to lay 51 Miles of 'Zero Gauge' Monorail Train way between Sirhind - Alampura and Patiala - Bhavnanigarh. This track was a single rail along one side of the roadway, on which the load carrying wheels of the train ran, while a sizeable second wheel at the end of an outrigger, used to run on the road to keep the balance feasible and thus movement went upright and straight. The Engine was made by Orenstein and Koppel Co. of Berlin, in the Year - 1907, with a Double Flange Wheel arrangement. The Road Number of this Loco, which is still in running condition and entertains the visitors, every Sunday, is PSMT - 4. We were more than glad to see her here, as she has some of the many unfolded pages of the Indian Railways that are an epic in themselves. Focus was primarily on the Next Day, as she was about to do her regular duties then, giving us an opportunity to share good times with this historic beauty.
- ST - 707: This Locomotive was built at Mughalpura Workshop (now in Pakistan) of the then North Western railway, using spares that were received from the Makers of the Class - North British Locomotive Works, Glasgow, in the year - 1904. This Broad Gauge Locomotive was used mainly for Shunting purposes.
- B - 26 (O&RR): The Locomotive manufactured by Sharp Stewart and Co, Atlas Works, Manchester, in the Year - 1870, for Broad Gauge Services, used to haul both Passenger as well as Goods Services on the Lucknow - Kanpur section of the Oudh & Rohilkund Railway (O&RR) till 1921. It had a unique feature, with provision of 2 separate whistles with different tones. It is assumed that this Locomotive probably brought the first train to Dehradun on the 1st of March - 1900. The Builder Number of this Loco being 2018, it was used with the Road Number - B - 26 and retired with the same.
- Phoenix (Steam Loco): This Locomotive was originally built as a Rail Motor Car and used on the Branch lines of East Indian Railway. It was built by Nasmyth Wilson & Patricroft Ltd, Manchester, UK, in the Year - 1907. In 1927, the coach portion was detached and the Locomotive was converted and deployed for Shunting operations in Broad Gauge Traffic.Her Maker's Number being 798, she is better known to the World with her EIR Number - 1354.
- EM - 922 (NWR): This North British Steam Locomotive, built in 1907, was not only Glorious during the yesteryears for her beauty and glamour, but was equally proud to have had the privilege of hauling VIP and Royal Services in the past. It also adopted itself up to the mark by changing its name to the dignitaries it served. It was first name 'Lord Clde', then 'Roosvelt' and Finally 'Queen Express'. It used to haul Passenger Trains on the Great Indian Peninsula & North Western Railway (GIP&NWR) Systems, and was later converted to super-heated type in 1922. She was rebuilt in 1941 at the Mughalpura Workshops, when the classification was changed from E - 1 to EM, and the Road Number changed from the Maker's - 17780 to EM - 922.
- Saloon - MSM - 15: The 6 - Wheeler Broad Gauge Wooden Bodied Saloon Car, was manufactured by Southern Railway Workshop, Perambur in the Year - 1914, with provisions for a Kitchen and a Servant Compartment, built for the use of railway Officers during their Inspection duties. It was first used by the MSM (Madras and Southern Maratha) Railways, and later by the South Central Railway, with the previous number being ERA - 024, converted to MSM - 15.
- HPS / 2 - 24467 (Steam): The HPS Series of Locomotives were designed by the BESA standards, for Heavy Passenger Services, and it became the standard convention on the Mail Engines of the Indian Railway System. The Loco was built by Vulcan Foundry Ltd, Newton Le Willows, UK, in the Year - 1950, and served the Broad gauge Sections of the East Indian Railway and Northern Railway. Initially classified as HP Class, the classification was changed to HPS when a Super Heated Version was designed and developed. The Maker's Number of the Locomotive was 7776 / 9, which was transformed to 24467. The Locomotive was donated by M.P.E.B (Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board) East Korba, Madhya Pradesh, after renovation by South Eastern Railway (SER) Loco Unit - Bhillai.
- YDM - 1 R - 6002: This North British Built Locomotive was the first Metre Gauge Diesel Power, added to the Western Railway Rolling Stock, in August 1955, for hauling Mail/Express trains in Gandhi Dham and underwent renovation at the Ajmer Loco Workshop, in 2003. The Original Number being 3003, it was built in the Year - 1954 and served as a Sunter in Ajmer till the 15th of February, 2001, after which it was transferred to Wankaner. Later on it was added as one of the prime exhibits of the NRM. The Loco has a Bo-Bo Bogie structure, with Fitted and Automatic vacuum and Air Brake System.
- WDM - 2 - KATNI: This Class of Locomotive is used in wide variance till date, in most of the Broad gauge Diesel territories, all across the country. This Loco preserved in the NRM, is the First of this Class and was homed at Katni Diesel Shed, till it was transferred to the National Railway Museum.
- Armoured Train: This 6 - Unit MG Composition Train was built specially for carrying the troops through war infested zones, using Wagons built in 1880s, that were converted at the Ajmer Workshop of the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI) and provided with a ½" thick armored plate followed by a 3" thick felt lining and another ¾" thick plate thereby giving absolute protection to the occupants. The Train served this nation during the First World War period, with the soldiers armed with 'Maxim Guns'. Four of the 6-Wagons are displayed in the NRM, but due to poor maintenance, these were found filled up with wreckage all over them. This was a pity site, that the once famed Wagons, needless to say, have lost their glory.
- YB/2 - 429: Built by Nasmyth Wilson & Co, Patricoft, Manchester, England, these Pacific type Steam Locomotives were introduced for Passenger Services, after 1926. This particular Loco was built in 1935, and served the Bengal North Western Railway and Oudh & Tirhut Railway for the Metre Gauge Services. The Maker's Number being 1613, and the railway Number - 429, were finally Altered to 30084.
- Saloon - ERC - 4910: This exhibit from the Oudh & Rohilkund Railway (O&RR), is a four wheeler wooden bodied Saloon Car, with provision for an all around sun-shading to prevent the sun rays disturb its VIP Occupants, specially during the summers. It was built in 1890, and then rebuilt by the Central Workshops of Alambagh, Lucknow in 1905. Served in the Broad Gauge sections of the O&RR with number - ERC - 4910, and used Vacuum Braking.
- PT - 11: This glamorous Broad Gauge Locomotive, made by Robert Stephenson & Co, Darlington, UK, was one of the first BESA's design Locos with outside cylinders, and was used primarily for hauling suburban passenger services on the South Indian Railway. It was built in the year 1936, with the Builder's Number reading PT - 11, later altered to PT - 37156.
- Y - 2 (Steam): This North British Locomotive was originally used by GIP (Great Indian Peninsula) Railway for Banking operations in the Igatpuri and Pune Ghat Sections in the year - 1967. Built in the year - 1907, it retired from service in 1995, from the Hindalco Factory, Renukot, where it was used for handling goods traffic of raw materials used by the unit.
This was a lot of notings for the first day at the Museum and we now decided to have some refreshments and a peep into the 'Indoor Gallery', before it was too exhaustive. Having a plate of 'inedible' Veg-Chow @ Rs.35/- per plate, at the Snacks Canteen, followed by a Pepsi, to sooth our demands; it was a quick time to head for the Air Conditioned Indoor Gallery.
The Gallery has some of the most beautiful models and artifacts that are kept in complete disarray, with no perfection. The models in the Reception area, are still better, but the wooden models and others in the inner zone, are filled with a thick layer of unlikely grime. However, the Builders Plate and several early used Zonal plaques were of interest, including the scans of early designed Steam Locomotives, and a pride collection of Card board tickets (an obvious fantasy for me), were definitely appreciable.
We decided to call it a day and finalized to be here early next morning, just after the museum opens, to cover the remaining Outdoor exhibits, before mid noon. It was a round of negotiations, before we got an Auto to take us back to the nest at C.R. Park. We were home by 06:30, and still it was broad daylight compared to the eastern part of the nation, where lights were on full. This is the speculation of nature to distribute time in complete equality. Dusk followed by the dark was soon to reach and we had a well served and highly deserved dinner, before floating away into the ocean of Steam that was going to continue for a few days now.
Day Three - N.R.M. Continued.. and A Ride on Delhi's Pride - D.M.R.C.
Subha and I were up by 08:00 AM sharp, and had a quick round of freshening up, before we had a quick round of Morning Breakfast, and started for N.R.M. again, to cover the second half of the Outdoor exhibits. My parents were to go and meet some of their old contacts at Noida, and so they were ready too. We were early to set off, and reached the National Railway Museum by 09:35 AM. Initial plans were to meet the Director, NRM, but he was out of office and Subha gave him a call, to share a few words of gratitude and courtesy. This time I did not miss out in collecting some Souvenirs from the Reception counter and then we moved out to explore the rest. A set of brochures for Mr. Buddhadeb Saha and Samit, were also bagged by that time. Mr. Saha gave me a call the previous day, while I was on the way from station, about an Accounts & Statistics Hand Book of the Indian Railways - 2004 - 05, but that was not to be found here, so this set of brochures as a consolation, instead. On the remaining Exhibits, here they go:
- XT 1 - 36863: Imported from Germany, manufactured by Fried Krupp & Co, Berlin, this is an IRS Design Locomotive, XT Class, introduced in 1929, for hauling light passenger trains on the Broad Gauge systems. Similar MG Locos were gradually built by the Ajmer Workshops of the Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway. This particular Loco was used in the East Indian Railway Dominion, after being built in 1935, with its Maker's Number - 1538, and original EIR Number reading 1789, later altered to XT 1 - 36863.
- XE - 3634: This Locomotive was built by Vulcan Foundry Company Ltd, England in 1930 and was commissioned in India in 1931 at the great Indian Peninsula (G.I.P.) Railway (Now Central Railway) for serving the Broad Gauge Sector (5'6"). This Loco was later purchased by the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board, Korba in 1979.
- Sheep Van: Built by the Lilluah Workshops of Eastern Railway, in 1929, this special wooden carriage van was built for carrying SHEEPS. Divided into four, 2-tier compartments, this used to carry a total of 176 Sheeps. Every compartment has provision of water supply from the tanks on the roof. The Broad Gauge Carriage numbered 97488PYE, used in the East Indian railway, later Eastern Railway in Broad Gauge system.
- Saloon of the Maharaja of Gaekwar: This 6 wheeler unique Saloon car was built by the Parel workshop of the Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway, in 1886, for use by the gaekwar of Baroda in the Broad Gauge sections of his then kingdom. The saloon is beautifully ornamented with Gold enamel on the ceiling, which has been completely restored by the National Railway Museum, except for a small portion of the original which has been kept visible through a Glass pane. It was later used by BB&CI, with number being ERB 20.
- Dynamometer Car: This Vehicle was built by Metropolitan Cammell Carriage Wagon & Finance Co. Ltd UK in 1930 and equipped with test gear supplied by Alfred J. Amsler, Switzerland, this car was utilized to evaluate performance characteristics of Locos, determine the resistance to traction, of the rolling stock and the power requirement for different load, speed and gradient combinations. The device was mainly used in the GIP Railway, for Braod Gauge inspection works. The Road Number for this Vehicle read WRK, 2483.
- Crane Tank: One of the two cranes found in the Museum, this one is basically a tank type Locomotive, provided with a crane. So these were popular with the name - 'Crane Tank'. Mainly used in both shunting and lifting purposes, three such Crane Tanks were used by the Parel Workshops of the GIP Railway, after being imported from the Hawthom Leslie & Co, for the Broad Gauge Sectors. This particular crane tank was built in 1923, with the Maker's Number as 3538, Railway No. - 3.
- Breakdown Crane (Hand Operated): One of the earliest breakdown crane used on the Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway, this was built in the Year - 1883, by Ransome and Rapier Ltd, London. This 6 wheeler Hand operated crane needed 6 operators to manage and handle it.
- Mourbhaj Coach: This 8 wheeler wooden bodied coach was originally built for the Mourbhaj Light Railway, as a 1st cum Inter Class coach. Later it was converted to a 1st cum IIIrd Class Coach when Mourbhaj L. Rly was taken over Bengal Nagpur Railway. It has a seating capacity of 12 in 1st class and 18 in IIIrd Class, but surprisingly has no brakes. This coach was dedicated for the NG Services (2'6"), with Number - 6-FT.
- Sentinel - BDR-8: This Locomotive was built by Sentinel Wagon works, Shrewsbury, UK, in the year - 1929, for hauling mixed traffic in the Narrow Gauge (2'6") Section of the Bankura Damodar Light Railway (B.D.R) from Bankura JN to Rainagar. The Locomotive had its maker's number reading 8135, with its BDR Number being BDR - 8.
- Simla Rail Car: This attractive rail Car was used primarily for Inspection Purposes on the Kalka - Simla Section of the picturesque 2'6" - NG Hill Railway, under the erstwhile North Western Railway.It was built by Wickham and Company, UK, in the Year - 1931, with the Road Number being KS 12.
- Decauville: Manufactured by W.G. Bagnall of Stafford, UK, in 1902, this articulate Locomotive was used in the Narrow Gauge (2'6") lines of North West Frontier Railways for operations, later transferred for training by the Madras Engineering Territorial Army Group of Bangalore. The Maker's Number for this Loco was 507.
- EMU Coach - 35B: Built by Cammell Laird and Co, Nottingham, this EMU Coach is one of the first of its kinds to be implemented in the Suburban Services of Bombay (present Day - Mumbai), under the Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway. The coach was built in 1927, with a BO-BO Bogie arrangement for the Broad gauge Services, and weighs 69.7 tonnes. Similar type services were started subsequently in the other Metro Cities like Calcutta (Present Day - Kolkata), Madras (Present Day - Chennai) and Delhi.
- Sir Roger Lumley: This WCP - 1 Class, DC Locomotive was manufactured by Swiss Locomotive Works, and its Electrical Portion was fitted by Metropolitan Vickers, while the Mechanical Unit was provided by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works - Wintherthur, Switzerland, in the Year - 1930. Used primarily in the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, this Broad Gauge Loco required an overhead voltage of 1500 V D.C., having a rigid wheel base of only 2 Driving wheels, while the Third one being articulated with the single carrying wheel. The Original Number for this Loco was EA-1-4006 that was altered to WCP - 1 - 20005, and named - 'Sir Roger Lumley'.
- Sir Leslie Wislon: One of the first DC Electric Locomotives to be imported to this country, this EF Class Engine was built by Metropolitan Vickers, London, with its Mechanical Portion manufactured by Swiss Loco Works, Wintherthur, Switzerland, in the Year-1928. It primarily served the GIP Railway, later Central Railway, with its Original Road Number - 4502 EF/1, renumbered to EF/1-20027. It was named as 'Sir Leslie Wilson', in the honour of the then Governor of Bombay. This Locomotive was specially designed for goods operations using 1500 V DC Overhead power supply, in the Broad Gauge Sectors. The Loco retired from service after 46 Years of dedicated tenure to the nation, in the year - 1974.
- Turn Table (Multi-Gauge): Built by Ransomes & Rapier Ltd, Ipswich, England, this is a Turn Table for all gauges, in Working Order, and constitutes as a prime exhibit of the Museum.
- A 885 'Hasang': Manufactured by W.G. Bagnall, Stafford, UK, in the year - 1897, this Locomotive is the puniest and the cutest Exhibit of the Museum, proud to be the smallest Power Horse of the country. The Loco served as a shunting power in the Ledo Coal Mines in Assam in their NG Dominion (2') and was subsequently donated to the Museum by Coal India Limited. The Original Number of this Loco read 1508, modified to A-885.
- Matheran Rail Car No. - 899: The Rail Car built by Grashame, in 1932, served the Matheran Light Railway for carrying 12 passengers, on the picturesque 2' NG sector of the Neral - Matheran Railway, Central Railway. It has a wooden body, and weighs 1.5 tonnes only.
- WDM 1 - 17000: This Pride Locomotive was imported in 1956, from ALCO, amongst the 'Hundred' 1950/1800 horse-power Broad Gauge Diesel Locomotives for operation in the Eastern and South Eastern Railway Sections. The Group of Locomotives, lived their days for 20 Years, after which the Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi (DLW), decided to rehabilitate the Locomotives. Only certain key components like the Crankshaft, Turbo Supercharger etc, were planned for import for this work, to conserve precious outflow of foreign exchange. The Locomotive stands under the shades of history, having a lot of tales to share with the contemporary Steam and Electric genres, and rest for her lifetime.
- WDM - 4 - 18001: The looks of a typical WDM-2 Locomotive, this is quite sort of a contemporary to the same. The deeper side edge to frame at the bottom of the body, the different profile of hood ends, radiator and dynamic braking fans projecting above hood tops, and EMD Flexioil bogies, are the most remarkable distinctive notes, that make WDM-4 and WDM-2 differ from each other. In the year - 1980, on Northern railway and South Eastern railway, one each were fitted with Flexicoil MKII bogies, permitting a speed of 160 Kmph. The Locomotives did not last too long, and this exhibit was condemned by the Survey Committee in 2001 and sent from Mughalsarai Diesel Shed/NR to the NRM. She now rests beside the WDM-1, with a rusted look, deserving the care from Railways much too soon.
- Garratt: The name itself suggests the grandeur of this Beyer Peacock, Manchester, UK, built powerful Locomotive, which is assumed to be the heaviest and the highest in power, Steam Loco ever used in Indian Railways. It weighs 235 tonnes and was used primarily to haul heavy mineral and iron ore movements on the Bengal Nagpur Railway (B.N.R.) and later South Eastern Railway. These set of Locomotives, were powerful enough to haul a load of 2400 tonnes on a 1 is to 100 Gradient. This particular Engine was built in the year - 1930, for the Broad Gauge System, with its Maker's Number reading 6594, Railway number 815, finally altered to 38815.
- Sentinel - 6273: Manufactured by Sentinel Wagon Works, Shrewsbury, UK, in 1926, this is one of the popular small locomotives built for construction lines of various irrigation works in the state of Punjab. Between 1926 and 1944, it was used on canal schemes in Punjab & later as a shunting locomotive in Amritsar workshops of Northern Railway and retained its original Maker's Number till retirement.
- MLR-739: The Locomotive used to run on the Matheran Light Railway of the picturesque 2' Narrow gauge Hill Railway of Neral to Matheran in Maharashtra, Western India. Built by Orenstein and Koppel, Berlin, Germany, the Maker's Number of the Loco was 2342, changed to MLR 739, during its tenure for Neral - Matheran Railway.
- Coach MLR - 812: This is a First Class 4-Wheeled, 8-Seater IRS type coach, primarily built for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, later operated in the Neral - Matheran Line of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. A Wooden bodied coach, this one has no Toilet facility.
- Coach MLR - 852: This Third Class (III) wooden bodied coach, typed ES 0852, had a capacity for 12 passengers, with the brakes being operated by a brakesman who used a lever provided at the end of the coach. This Coach was also used on the Neral - Matheran Line, and also did not have Toilet facilities. While we were shooting, Subhabrata's Camera denied to play with the Old set of Batteries, and he was running short of back ups this time. So we had to make way out of the museum for some time and he got a couple of sets of Alkaline Batteries to allow him take back precious memories, to cherish long. When we came back to the Museum and went to buy tickets at the counter once again, the staff was most courteous to allow us, without any money this time. This was a generous expression from their end that felt so nice.
- Coach - ET 119 - DHR: Built in 1902, by the Tindharia Workshop, at a cost of Rs. 1907/-, this 4-wheeler Third (III) Class Coach was used on the Darjeeling Himalayan railway (DHR) for carrying 16 passengers. It was in service till 1968, and served the famed 2' NG Line. The coach was renewed by DHR Society in 2003, at NRM.
- B-777 'DHR': I consider this Class of Locomotives as the most attractive and beautiful in all genres covered across the sub-continent. Built by Sharp, Steward & Co, Atlas Works, Glasgow, in 1889, this BS Class Loco served with grandeur till 1952, and it remains a wonder, how the prototypes of this puny little beauty are still in service, at an age exceeding 100 years, and give its fans a feeling of lifetime satisfaction. The Locos of this class are part of the proud 2' NG System of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, covering the photogenic Siliguri - Darjeeling circuit of the North East Frontier Railway.
- ZDM - 1 - 704: This Narrow Gauge (2'6") Diesel Locomotive, built by Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW), is a part of this museum, with the rake of the old 'Pragati Express' that used to present the visitors of the Pragati Maidan, a joy ride. The Loco was brought to this Museum in February 2001, and now is in a state when it needs immediate attention towards undergoing a repainting session, with conservation work.
- NMR - X 37385: Among the last couple of Exhibits to throw light upon, this 'X' Class Loco was used on the Nilgiri Rack Railway between Mettupalayam and Oodhagamandalam (popularly known as 'Ooty'). This Swiss Locomotive built by the Winterthur Swiss Loco Co, in the year - 1920, is a real life example of Steam Craftmanship, in terms of design and engineering. The Previous Number of this Metre Gauge Loco read X-7, used by South Indian Railway and Southern Railway. Genres of this same class are still in running condition, and used for Heritage Special Runs on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
- Last but undoubtedly the craftiest Broad Gauge Steam Locomotive - HP - 31412: Imported from the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, USA, in the Year - 1948, this powerful Work Horse with BESA Standards served the Passenger Services on the Jodhpur Railway and later Northern railway, for the Metre Gauge sections. The Maker's Number of this charming beauty was 152, later changed to 31412 (HP Class).
We were disappointed to know that the WP and WL Locos have been moved to Rewari Steam Centre and are in Running Status. But this actually triggered our plans for a day at Rewari, for a priceless collection of the Bygone Era.
Time showed that it was almost Noon, and the Patiala Monorail was still steaming up, for the show to begin, a well couple of hours later. So wasting this precious count of the clock was never affordable, and instead we opted for another Experience. This time it was the 'Pride of Delhi' - The D.M.R.C. (Delhi Metro).
The Auto that had taken us to buy batteries, earlier in the day, was waiting its turn for us to take a second ride. We did not deny him as well, and this time the stop was near the Cabinet Secretariat Station of the Delhi Metro. From here we took the Yellow Line and the only Underground Phase of Delhi Metro, till Rajiv Chowk, which is just a couple of stations, on the way to Vishwavidhyalay Terminus. We had sought of taking a long trip on the Metro, a journey that would take at least an hour both ways to cover. So we bought our tickets for Rs. 16/- each, to Dwarka. Taking the next available train we were to reach Rajiv Chowk, and then Change over to the Elevated Blue Line Phase, for a connection to Dwarka.
And so we did. The impressive outlook of the Station Complex and an even more imposing look of the Metro itself made us love struck at the very first sight. It is a really excellent and professional looking Smart and attractive service, with Central Air-Conditioning, just upto the Foreign Standards. The underground journey did not last too long, and we were soon at Rajiv Chowk Station, where it was time to walk up for the Elevated Service. The Entire System is very well planned, and I was just cherishing the similar memories of the Hong Kong Mass transit System, that I had experienced 'Eleven' Years back. Maps and Guide Brochures are readily available across the many bays that we came through, and I was eager in collecting the information's, which I did eventually and brought back a copy for Samit and Mr. Saha as well.
The Elevated Ride on the Metro was a long one, with Stations coming one after the other. One point noticeable was that the Braking Systems are not sort of used to, till as of now and every time the Driver reaches the station, he would stop the train and again drudge on for a couple of paces to finally brake. This continued for almost every station. The Announcement System inside the compartments is well audible, and warns the Passengers of the Gap between the Platform and the Coach, every time, along with the regular stuff like Next Station and Door Closing. It was truly Dynamic and seemed that Yes, we are moving Ahead, with the speculation of Time, both economically as well as in respect to Engineering and Craftsmanship.
Dwarka arrived after a span of almost 40 minutes; where we got off the train and went on to buy the tickets for a return trip. One thing worth a mention here is that DMRC runs trains at an interval of 3 minutes instead of its older counterpart - the Kolkata Metro railway, running at an interval of 15 to 8 minutes, upon Passenger Turn up. At Dwarka, we got to know that we were handed Low Value Tokens. (Ohh!! I forgot this - Delhi metro has a surprising Ticket System. They do not have any Paper or Card Board or Magnetic ticketing, instead it is a Circular Token that is handed over to the Passenger as his/her Journey Receipt. This Token has a circuitry which in turn goes with a Token Checker at the Gates of the Station. While you enter the starting point, the Gates have a Reader, which upon acceptance of the Token, reflect the Money Value of the same, and allow you in, while on the Reverse side, a Device is kept, where you have to insert and deposit your token, before leaving out. This is a completely new technology, I was coming across and it seemed to be quite interesting.) What happened with us is that, while we were to cross over the Gates at Dwarka Station for the Ticket Counter, the Token was being retained by the Machine, instead of getting inserted. Delhi Metro has an appreciable and user friendly service. The Information and Upgradation Booths located near the Passing Gates, have an officer, who is responsible to upgrade your Token, against payment of the Excess of fare. This time we had traveled with the Value of Rs. 16/-, across the distance which costs Rs. 17/-. The Gentleman inside the Assistance Booth was most happy to issue us the Rs.1/- token each to go through. We took them, and for the sake of my collection, bought one 'Souvenir Token' for Rs. 4/-, and headed for the Booking Office.
This time we were handed over proper tickets with the Value of Rs. 17/- till Central Secretariat Station, and after a Security Check through, we were up again for a return Journey that took us almost 50 minutes, including a Change Over at Rajiv Chowk, finally to reach the place from where the experience began. Words are not enough to describe DMRC, which is a real time display of zeal and pride for all the citizens of the Capital. After having a quick lunch at a nearby Hotel, we were back to the National Railway Museum, for a glimpse of the Steaming Patiala State Monorail. The Lunch was not at all impressive, constituting a tasteless vegetable curry of 'Rajma' (A Popular Pulse of Northern India) and rice. The Food was a necessity at that point of time, and we did not deny our appetite of at least something. A Coke was something refreshing after that inedible diet. Back at the NRM, the Ticket Counter Staff were astonished to see us back in queue, for the Third time in the Day, and this time we bought the tickets. The R.P.F. Folks posted at the Entry Gate, smiled and let us through without even asking for the tickets to be shown. Actually they had by now known my hobby of collecting souvenirs and were very happy to allow me keep the intact tickets, without tearing them apart. So nice of them! The NRM Staff was really touching our minds. By now the Patiala State Monorail was ready with Steam and she was Huffing and Puffing to start the show. Subhabrata gave a call to Rajeev Srivastav, who was to coming back that very day, from Jaipur, and we were to meet him just after this. We kept waiting for the first ride to flag off, and Subhabrata was desperate to shoot a video of this one. He managed it within time, and then we got to the Ticket Counter to buy ourselves a couple of Tickets for a memorable experience, of the PSMT. Charged a bit high at Rs. 20/- per person, we negotiated the memories without delaying further and drove into the age of times, for this steamy retreat. The Jerky strokes and the whistling curves, snaking past the circumference across half the museum, came to a quick end within 5 minutes. I felt truly back to the Golden Days of Steam, with the Rustling motion, waving my mind, into a complete other World.
Collecting a few Books and journals was on my list, after this, and I did that in a Hurry, to bag home the Treasured Collections like 'Kangra Valley Railway', 'Jodhpur Railway' and some token souvenirs like a Key Chain and the NRM Guide Book (which helped me with the Brief Details of the Exhibits in NRM).
By then Rajeev had arrived at the Museum Gate. He gave me a call, and we were off in a flash. He drove his Car into the Musuem. We shook hands and exchanged courtesy, after which he drove us to his home. A few words over a cup of simmering tea, and we discussed on the planned visits to Ghaziabad Loco Shed, Tughlakabad and Rewari. After a tiring drive back from Jaipur, Rajeev must have been terribly tired, and so we wrapped things quickly and decided to leave, allowing some some much desired rest. He was most nice to drop us to the nearest Bus Stands, from where we took an Auto to reach C.R.Park, by 05:00 PM, in the evening.
It was a day completely packed with loads of Action, starting from Heritage to Modernization, from the historic ride on the Century Old Patiala State Monorail, to Modern India's Pride - DMRC, a truly memorable experience.
Dinner was pre-planned at one of our Family friend's place at C.R.Park, before which an evening walk took us to the famous Kali Temple Complex of Chittaranjan Park. In C.R.Park, you will never miss Bengal, and this temple reminds you of the famed Dakhineswar Kali Temple, near Calcutta, with a secluded and serene surrounds, forming the atmosphere for complete divinity.
Day Four: A Visit to the Ghaziabad Electric Loco Shed:
Woke up early and had a well made cup of Morning Tea, charging us up for a day that was surely the most remarkable one, in the entire trip. We were to meet the Chief Public Relations Officer, Northern Railway, for the Photography Permit, across the Three Locations of Ghaziabad, Rewari and Tughlakabad. Started from Hotel, after having Breakfast, with the target of reaching the CPRO's Office by 10:00 AM. We had been informed from the CPRO's office that the letter is ready, as they were notified prior to our arrival at Delhi. The scenario was completely changed, once we reached there. We came to know that the Permission had been issued for Three Days, starting Saturday, while on the contrary we were informed to collect the same on Monday, leaving us with only a Single Day to cover Three Spots. The Staff had done a rubbish calculation and surely were no good in communication as well. This initiated a Waiting time of more than 3 and ½ Hours, with the Governmental procedures of the time of Lord Dalhousie being worked upon. It is a real shame that the Public Relations Officers themselves have no behavioral attributes, to deal with people properly. A complete mis-management turned out, leaving us short by half a day. Continuous questions by the Three Public Relations Officer, after we met the CPRO, Mr.Sanjay Goel, who was typically astonished and probably quite uncertain about Railway Fans or Enthusiasts. That is quite expected! We showed him our work, and shared some photographs, but his mind kept on ticking, as to what made us interested in Ghaziabad? The Answer was simple, WAP-5, and now he would like to know, whether we do not have them in Howrah. At one point of time, I was thinking that it was easy to meet the Almighty himself, rather than asking the Northern Railway for a photo permit. Another of the deputies, Mr. A.S.Negi, with a peep from above his stylish spectacles wanted to know why we had not come up on Saturday, as one of their staffs was waiting the whole day in his office, having wasted his holiday. Now we told him that it was as per the intimation from Mr. Goel, that led us to reach their Office on Monday., as he had specifically mentioned that it is not at all possible to hand over any such permission on a Non-Working Day. While to this Mr. Goel had a 'No-Comments' Approach in front of his deputy.
I was getting heated up by now, and finally when it was found that instead of working on the Official Letter written to the CPRO, they were insisting on a letter written by Subhabrata to Rajeev (That was forwarded by Rajeev, to the CPRO), and they were trying to insist on the fault being at our end of approaching late, it was time to politely share a few words with the PRO - Mr. Negi. Subhabrata was already insisting me to be calm, as he knows my approach by now!
One thing is for sure, 'If you are an Indian, and You admire any Aspects that come under the procedure of the Govt. Of India, then it is better to leave your passion or else Temperament, to have your job done'. The second one worked well, and with a continuous count of rigorous follow ups, we were finally handed over the Official Photo Permit, 'generously' (!!) Granted for Three Days, starting Monday (with half of it lost in the bureaucratic work place of these Government Nuts!) till Thursday, we could not oblige more but with a courteous greeting, headed straight out of the Public Relations (God Knows the reasonability of the name) Office, where the only job I found was cutting out the articles from almost hundreds of Daily Newspapers, relating to Northern Railway. That is definitely something relating to their duties, but at the same time, one should remember the words that they print so boldly at the back of the Working Time Tables like - 'Customer is God and their time means our business'.etc, which actually has no implications within the Primary Public Relations office itself. This was something typical, and that leads to the reason behind illegal photography, just like the Queues in Ticket Counters with only half the strength working, leads to Ticket less Travel. While the latter impacts Railways Financially, in our case, it surely had to negotiate with the Honor and Pride of the Organization. Indian Railways have to go a far way to make themselves friendly to the people around, so as to make the Workplace a much better arena to share the 8 Hours of their day, with.
Anyways, lets forget about all that happened earlier, and so by now we had the Official Photography Permit Ready with us. The Battle of Words, Won, it was time to straight away head for the next available train to Ghaziabad. Back at the New Delhi Station, it was a long queue in front of the Booking Window - 1, with the Clerk doing things at a good pace. Our turn came well in time, and I got the tickets for Ghaziabad by II-ORDY @ Rs. 7/- per head, traveling across a distance of 26 Km.
The New Delhi-Amritsar Express Special was to leave from PF-3 at 14:10 Hrs, and we ran up the over-bridge to cross over to that point, and catch this train. We had IInd Class tickets, and boarding an Express would mean-Penalty. Instead we asked a nearby TTE (Traveling Ticket Examiner) to upgrade our tickets to Mail/Express, at the cost of the remaining fare. He asked us just to board the train and detrain at Ghaziabad. "No Upgradation was needed", he said. Later I understood the reason. The so called Express train took us an Hour and 10 minutes to traverse a mere distance of 26 Km's. Quite worth of being called a Slow Passenger Train!!
We reached GZB (Ghaziabad) at 15:20 Hrs, and found that the train was being hauled by a rusty and tired looking WAG - 5HA, from TKD (Tughlakabad). The Electric Loco Shed (ELS/GZB) could be well located from the front end of the Platform, and we made our way, dribbling over the ballasted rails snorkeling through the fly ash pilled on top of the under-construction road way, by the side of the tracks, to end up at the gates of the most famed Electric Locomotive Shed of the Nation - Ghaziabad Electric Shed. The first task was to meet the In-Charge or the Forman of this Shed, and officially talk to him about the Photography. The Day was figuring out to be an eventful one, and this time it was our turn with an obscured DE (Divisional Engineer) in the Loco Shed (I am not mentioning his name), who was the then In-Charge, and denied us Photographic Access inside the Shed, despite of having the Permit with us. He told us that he had no idea of what this permit means, and he has no connection to the CPRO writing any Permit Letter. The guy stated that anyone giving a letter does not mean him to allow people to shoot inside the Loco Shed. Certainly out of his head, at that time! We requested for some time, just as a courteous way of approaching, and now he asked us to show an identity proof, of ours. Although we told him that we were giving him his Office Copy of the Permission Letter, but this guy was illegitimate & rigid. Subhabrata called up the CPRO, and made him talk to the DE, who was now singing the sweet tunes of politeness, and the story crossed its hurdles, to allow the work begin, Finally! I felt pity for this guy, who has such a long way to traverse in his life, and never thinks logically as to what would happen if this same situation turns up in his life! Man is so blind to enjoy the Gifted Power that he often forgets his responsibilities and commits an error that can never be recovered from.
By then the enthusiasm of snapping amidst the famed ELS was almost on the verge of dismay. Charging ourselves up, we set off to do our jobs, and Yes, the first sight of the Sparkling WAP - 5 - 30013 - NAVKIRTI, did give us a booster to regain the enthusiasm. The Loco Stood well draped in the Mid-Noon rays of the Scorching Sun, giving her a bright look, with a photogenic clarity. I had ample number of shots, while Subhabrata kept on clicking the Profile Views, till the maximum. Ghaziabad is home to the High Speed Passenger Locomotives like WAP - 4s, WAP - 5s, WAP - 7s and their Older Genre - WAP - 1s. While the WAP-7 Class Locomotives are shared with GMO (Gomoh), it stands as the Only Shed for WAP-5s, and that is the primary reason behind all these hurdles being over taken, till now. She did satisfy our needs, with a perfect angle to share the elegance and capture the very best out of this beautiful ABB Loco.
A WAP - 1 - 22074, was standing right behind the scenes, near the Trip Shed. She had been recently Painted and looked cool, from this part of the ground. We were happy to have a detailed view of both these Locos and now moved back towards the Shed for some Spotting, before calling it a day. It was tiring, after a fight against the rigidity and bureaucracy of the Northern Railway Staffs.
Following are the Road Numbers of the Locos Spotted in the ELS/GZB:
- WAP - 7 30217 GZB
- WAP - 1 22037 GZB
- WAP - 7 30210 GZB
- WAP - 1 22024 GZB
- WAP - 4 22656 GZB
- WAP - 7 30219 GZB
- WAP - 1 22031 GZB*
- WAP - 1 22059 GZB*
- WAP - 1 22048 GZB*
- WAP - 7 30211 GZB
- WAP - 7 30208 GZB
- WAP - 5 30001 GZB
- WAM - 4P 20472 GZB
- WAG - 9 31013 GMO
- WAG - 9 31060 GMO
- WAM - 4P 21252 BRC
*- These Locos had their Top Cover Detached and were undergoing maintenance.
After having done with the Loco Snap Shots, we concentrated on some of the other aspects like the Detached Pantographs, and the Wheel testing units, with Wheels rotating at a high speed for rigorous testing, etc. Things were done by now, and we set off, towards the station. A Pepsi along with some Loco Spotting that included WAG - 5 HA - 23771 - AJJ, WAG - 5 HA - 23044 - TKD, WAG - 5 - 23444 - LDH and a shining WDS - 4B - 19159 - Shakurbasti, made it a day to call off now.
The DN Ghaziabad - Palwal EMU was to take us back to Delhi at 05:25 PM, with a smooth run, allowing us reach New Delhi (NDLS) by 06:15 PM, passing by the Old Fort of Delhi, for some stunning views of the Mughal Sultanate, pairing with the Shahadara - Welcome Section of the D.M.R.C., contrasting the advent of innovation, with the perfect backdrop of the tired Sun, signifying the beginning of yet another exciting voyage to the mystifying land of Locos, the day after.
Day Five: To REWARI - The Land of the Rising Steam:
Weather in Delhi was just perfect at this part of the year, with a misty morning, improvised by a refreshing cool breeze that was chilling on a few occasions. This time we were a bit late to start, with the scheduled departure of the Delhi - Bikaner MG Express being Quarter to Nine, it was a flying drive on the Auto to reach the gates of the Station - Delhi Sarai Rohila, anticipating the first ever MG Train Ride of my life. The result was nothing but disappointment at its best, when we came to know that the Delhi - Rewari Metre Gauge Line has been Shut down permanently, and is under Gauge Conversion, since 31st December 2005. "This was not happening", I said to Subhabrata!
The next available train to Rewari was the 1-MNR - Meerut - Rwewari Shuttle, scheduled to arrive at 10:00 AM. It turned out to be a complete waste of time and money, paying a Hundred bucks to the Auto Driver, in way of reaching early to the station. Now we had to spend over an hour. Time called us for a sip over hot tea, to sooth things a bit, which we did adhere to. Next to this was buying tickets @ Rs. 16/- per head by II-Passenger to Rewari JN, and move towards the Platform, where the train usually arrives. The Metre Gauge section of the station has no single trace of the Tracks any more, and it seemed that they have just uprooted the entire system within a lighting span of time. MG in Delhi is Complete History, with the only stuff remaining to be extinct being the Platform and it associated artifacts, with a couple of dilapidated station boards, painted and overwritten on them, from MG to BG timings.
With an upset stance, I thought of having a look at the Yard Area from the Overbridge. Man this was Cool! The yard and Station Complex are just too serene for photography. It has a typical touch of the Metre Gauge Environs. Shooting went on for some time, with a few models on the ramps, approaching from different directions. The Station is distinct in its own way, and for the first time I saw a combination of two stations, acting as one unit. In this case - Vivekanad Puri and Delhi Sarai Rohilla share the Traffic as one unit, and they are just divided by a high end wall. Two Separate stations, standing absolutely parallel to each other, with two different identities, but serving the same route! This was interesting stuff!
Anyways, spotting started after this with the first sights of a WDP 1 - 15030 - TKD, arriving with the Delhi - Shamila Passenger Service. The DP1s here have a standard Blue and White livery, with the 'Baldies' in action. Next to follow was a WDP 3 - 15528 again from TKD, with the 4RD - Rewari - NDLS Pass. A Couple of Ludhiana based WDMs, one 3A - 18950 R and the other WDM2 - 16534, were doing some hectic Ups and Downs through the Yard Side Line, and smoking high at times, giving the surroundings a magical touch of Old Days. The most striking spot out, was made when a 'Rajdhani' liveried DMU, from Shakurbasti, arrived with almost a vacant rake behind itself, stopping at Vivekand Puri, almost at intervals. While the first three coaches were parked, it stopped for a while after which the entire train was rolled on to the Platform line, and then it finally stopped for the halt. Peculiar, truly!
By now, Subhabrata, was hearing something, and we made our way quickly to the spot right above the Platform No. - 6 (Vivekanand Puri). It was a WAG-9 - 31069 from GMO, negotiating the Curve just outside the platform concourse, deligiently, and passed at high speed. We wondered to ourselves, G9, on this line? Nothing but Good Luck. At last, the announcement of the 1MNR was on its turn. Our train was to arrive on the Platform No. - 6, where we were. Headed down the stairs towards the front, with a horning WDP - 1 - 15529 from TKD, rushing into the same platform. We mistook it for our train, and gained some time to reduce the walking pace a bit. 20 minutes after the scheduled time, the train finally rolled in behind a WDP - 3A - 15529 - TKD, and departure was at 10:22 AM.
This one being a Passenger service stopped at all the stations enroute, and we were gradually getting bored of the journey, because of the Local folks creating botheration all around, with a non-adjustable vocal chord, always on the highest pitch.:-)
Observed that no trace of the MG Alignments is at all on offer, till we reached Gari Harsaru JN, a major station enroute, involving a couple of crossings on the other side, that included the Orange and Blue liveried DMU from Shakurbasti Car Shed - 11041, moving in, where we found a branch MG Track curving out towards the right. The most important sight was that of the Semaphore Signals that are yet to be uprooted from this region, and is the only existing witness of the prevalent Metre Gauge Network, during once upon a time. A Heap of Old rails is located at an even interval of time, stacked together for auction, and exchange of History with the primary interest of today - Money! After a painstaking journey of 3 Hrs, we were finally at Rewari JN at 13:25 Hrs. The WDP 3s are going for a sure bet, being used in these horrifying passenger services, which would impact their life similar to a WAP-7 hauling a Local Train.
The First signs of the 'Rewari Steam Centre' were visible by now, but the most speculating fact that enthralled me was the Live MG Activity at Rewari. Rewari is truly Paradise for Metre Gauge lovers. There is each and every aspect of Metre Gauge to admire and fall in love with. For the time being I got engaged with the number of YDM-4 Locomotives, smoking around, like a Gang of Monsters. This was the first time, I was witnessing a YDM-4 with live stock in my life. The dream that I pursued for so long, was now somehow fulfilled, but it would have been even better if the Trip from Delhi to Rewari by a Metre Gauge Express would have come true. Still something is better than nothing at least, and this was a 'Satisfactory' something.
Subhabrata got engaged in some serious photography, while I was wandering around the YDMs as if I was in a Paradise that is moving around the Angels from 'Phulera'. For the Loco Road Crunchers here go the Spotting Details of all the YDM-4s spotted:
- YDM - 4 6563 PHULERA
- YDM - 4 6732 PHULERA
- YDM - 4 6485 PHULERA
- YDM - 4 6729 PHULERA
- YDM - 4 6694 PHULERA
- YDM - 4 6336 PHULERA
While three of them were having a rest out here at the backyard of the Main Station, 6563, 6485 and 6336 were into serious business, serving the Bikaner-Jaipur-Rewari-Bikaner Passenger, Rewari-Shikaur Passenger and Bikaner-Rewari Express respectively. The desire to stay for long, could not come true this time, as we had the Steam Shed waiting for our visit, with the Time playing a crucial constraint game behind the scenes. We deicided to have Lunch first, and then have our tickets ready for the return service, so that the rest of the time could be completely devoted to Rail Fanning. And so we did. A nearby confectioners store was the best place to fulfill the appetite, because of it being a Tuesday, with all Hotels shut down. Eventually we ended up having a Veg. Hotdog Each for Rs. 22/- along with a Mobile Coke, while Subhabrata added on it a Paneer Crocket, to satisfy the needs. Negotiating with the supper, rather quickly, we made our way to the ticket Counter and got the Return tickets by the Rewari - Delhi Link Express, leaving at 05:20PM, and acting as a connecting Service to the Metre Gauge Bikaner - Rewari Express, which used to traverse till Delhi Sarai Rohila Earlier. The Ticket priced at Rs. 32/- per head, just double the Fare of that of Passenger Services, for the same 78 KM journey. Having wrapped off the side line stuff, we headed straight for the 'Rewari Steam Shed'.
Rewari Steam Center - The Land of the 'Rising' Steam:
This was thee spot, I was waiting to visit for a lifetime. Rewari stands as the ONLY Steam Locmotive Shed in Modern India, with the Locos in Working condition, and quite capable of running the Heritage Special Tours and Journeys arranged by the Indian Railways, and stands proud with visitors from all over the World paying gratitude to the wonderful Workmanship, these craftsmen have shown. This Shed used to be a Metre Gauge Steam Shed, and off late has been converted for use by both Gauges, and rooms the WP, WL, YP and YG Class Locomotives.
The first point of reach as usual, was the Foreman's Office. A very friendly welcome to this place, blew away the clouds of anxiety from our minds, and we were glad to have such a nice person, with an interactive approach, as the companion for the rest of this day. The Foreman of the Rewari Steam Shed, Shri. Shyam Behari Gautam, a Sections Engineer under Northen Railway, was a real gentleman, with a nice attitude. We had a round of gossips before starting our job, with a Cup of Afternoon Tea and some of the heritage discussions on board. The SSE from Delhi Sarai Rohila, Mr. S.S.Chowhan, Senior Sectional Engineer, Delhi Sarai Rohilla (Loco Shed), Northern Railway, Delhi who was among the group of delegates visiting the Shed, for some talks over a proposed Steam Trial Run, at Delhi, that eventually turned up to be great success, addressed us too, and were glad to know about the passion we share in Traveling and Photographing across the various spectrums of the Great Indian Railways. Subhabrata shared his photographs after this, and we stressed on the Fact of Preserving the WG and the WP Class Locomotives waiting to be extinct soon, in the Old Bardhhamand Steam Shed of Eastern Railway. We did converse upon the fact that no WG Class Locomotive has ever been preserved in India, and so this one needs care. Both Mr. Gautam and Mr. Chowhan, seemed interested and we promised of sending them the Photographs taken at BWN.
It was time for work now, and we set out to do so. Entrance to the Steam Shed is remarkably symbolized by the 'Rewari ka Gaurav' - WL 15005, Broad Gauge Steam Locomotive, freshly painted, and standing as if serving the Reception Party of the Heritage Steam Show. The Shed is divided into Two Sections; on to left are the Metre Gauge Locomotives, while the Right Side is dominated by the Powerful Broad Gauge Work Horses.
The Notes from this Heritage Shed go as below:
- WL BG 15005 'Rewari Ka Gaurav'
- YG MG 4252 Waiting for Material
- YG MG 3415 Waiting for Material
- YP MG 2202 POH Overdue
- YG MG 3438 Waiting for Material
- YG MG 3724 POH Overdue
- WP BG 7015 'RAJHANS' - Waiting for Material
- WP BG 7161 Ready for Lights On! Assigned to Delhi Heritage Steam Run on 9th April, 2006.
- BDCR BG 19/24666 Steam Crane for Broad Gauge.
- BDCR MG FD 1264 Steam Crane for Metre Gauge.
Subhabrata was as usual back to business, and engaged himself with the in-depth profile views of these beauties, while yours truly, I set out for a bit of nostalgia, thinking about the enchanting days, when these wondrous Locomotives used to Steam out for their job. I was missing out some live action, unlike IRFCAn Vikas Chander. I would have really loved snapping out some atmospheric Steam Saga. The Foreman, did invite us for a 'Lights On' (The Steam Locomotives are made out for a trial, Every Saturday), the coming weekend, but unfortunately due to time constraint, this was included in our next possible itinerary. His assistant and a 35 Year old dedicated workman of this Shed - Shiv Charan, was also a charming character. Having spent almost half his life here, he now has photos with most of the Cine Stars who have been to Rewari, for commercial Film shootings.
Truly, this Shed is a Pride to share the passion of History and Romance with India and her Life Line - The Railways.
All of a sudden, things started going a bit wrong, with one of the RPF Guys sitting in the Outpost - Rewari Shed, coming up and enquiring rather unnaturally. He tried to charge me with certain allegations of illegal photography and was in a mood of taking my Camera too. My patience took up a toll this time, and I thought of giving him a Wash of Words. While being called by the Foreman for another cup of Tea, I waited for a couple of minute before the incorrigible RPF Folk, had spelled out each word of our Photo Permit, after which he got a nice second round of Afternoon Bashing from me, and we had the steaming Tea, to refresh minds. This was nothing but a 'Wrong Dial', towards an attempt of Regular Money making, that went in complete vain. Sorry RPF, could not help you with your intentions this time!! ;-)
Having had enough of the nostalgic stuff, we decided to start back for the Station, as I wanted to shoot some Real Life MG Stock, in and around that point. A smoke to share with Mr. Gautam, who was the best person we had interacted in the entire Rail Fanning list, it was time to bid him a thankful adieu. I was very glad to fill up the 'Guest Book', covering two pages across, and felt proud to see the names of John Lacey, John Ball, Bharat and Vikas, preceding Subhabrata and mine. Log live IRFCA!! Mr. Gautam was kind enough to present me with a Souvenir copy of an Old Working Time Table, with the detailed MG Run Schedules in this part of the country under the Jaipur Division - North Western Railway, apart from sharing some of the splendid photographs of his Shed, gifted by various visitors from across the World, including Indian Film Stars like Anil Kapoor etc. We also promised of sending ours soon. I did appreciate the entire Team of Officials present, especially Mr. Shyam Behari Gautam, for making it our day, with a definite commitment to visit this Prizewinning Place, once on a Saturday.
Back at Rewari station, activity was gradually on the falling side as per MG Stuff was concerned. A striking livery of Orange and Cream Stripe - YDM4 - 6498 - PHULERA was the only contender, ready to start with the Rewari - Ajmer passenger. Metre Gauge Coaches of First Class Air-Conditioned (1A) and AC II-Tier Composite was something adding value, parallel to the other running stock parked in and around the MG coaching yard. I got some cool snaps, with the setting Sun, giving it a perfect look, of reminiscence.
A couple of ABU Road based WDM 2A's were soon to grasp our attention, pulling in the 2916 UP, New Delhi - Ahmedabad Ashram Express. The Loco Numbers read 16821 (with a regular Brown livery) and 16814 (with a striking Sky Blue and White livery) typically resembling the WDP 1s in this part of India. On one of the adjoining platforms, a WDM 2A - 17949 - LDH, was being thoroughly inspected from its roof top, before setting off with the Bhiwani bound Passenger service.
Our train was to waiting to depart from the PF No. - 3, and it being an Express Service from Rewari JN to Delhi Sarai Rohilla, departure was scheduled at 05:20 PM. The Old MG Alignment entering from the Delhi Side is completely dismantled on the Eastern part of the BG platforms, and are now being upgraded to Broad gauge Tracks, to cater the needs in a sufficient manner. The next time we come here, we have to take an MG Trip, without which this whole trip is so incomplete.
We started on time, and it was a panoramic journey with the WDP3 on command, we did enjoy a smooth ride. This journey had only Four stops, enroute Delhi, and so the acceleration of the DP3, could be read at its best. A few Sunset views from Gari Harsaru JN, and we were through within a couple of hours to reach Sarai Rohilla at 07:35 PM. A TKD based WDP1 - 15041, was dong the reception services for the last time in the day, gifting us plenty of enthusiasm, for the next day visit to its Hub.
An Auto back home after this, and I had my dinner in a flash, anticipating a Steamy Sleep, with the parallel effects of the Rewari Environs on board. Subho was late, from his friend's place at Noida, where he had reached from the Nehru Place Stands, by the Auto that took us back from the Railway Station. This was a nice chap, with philosophical and practical discussions all the way, making time look so short, for the journey. This reminded me about the line that 'Goodness always prevails in spite of the dominance of the negative'. Day Six: Tughlakabad - Hub of the WDP's:
IRFCAn - Siddhartha Ganesh was going to join us this time, and we were more than pleased to have his Company. According to the discussions and confirmations, last night, this was yet another of the early Morning starters with the Wake up Call ringing at 04:30 AM. Subhabrata was going to leave that very day, by the Sealdah bound Rajdhani Express, while I would be continuing stay till Sunday, with a packed up schedule in hand, for the following days to come.
We were off by 05:30 AM, and took an Auto to NDLS Station, where Siddhartha was to meet us, on the Platform No. - 1. Reaching there almost 45 minutes early, and having brought ourselves Three tickets to Tughlakabad by the 08:50 AM EMU, @ Rs. 6/- per person, for the 18 KM ride (II ORDY), we had ample time to note some Early Morning Incoming spot outs. The first one for the day, was a WAP - 1 - 22041 - GZB, with the Shram Shakti Express from Kanpur, arriving at 06:30 AM on the Platform No. - 1. The crimson rays of Dawn made a MGS based WAP4 - 22278. getting ready for the North-East Express, look attractive, with its low level headlights still turned on.
Meanwhile, I got an SMS from Siddhartha, and called him back, mentioning that the Tickets were done, and we were right at the Platform, waiting for him. He was soon to arrive. A Sweet Guy, with an energetic smile and a cute look. The first IRFCAn from Delhi Region to have responded to our call, which we gracefully thanked with a cup of coffee at the refreshment stall. Unfortunately, the Railway Refreshment Room was again closed this time, and so we could not have a Breakfast. Instead it was opted to have a look around the New Delhi Station Yard, with a peep into the NDLS Trip Sheds.
Siddhartha was talking about a Turn Table after the Diesel Trip Shed area. By the time, we finished off with our coffee, a couple of WDS 4D's 19645 and 19655 from Shakurbasti, were running speedily. While the former was in search for a job, the later one was busy in shunting in with the New Delhi - Kalka Shatabdi Express, with an irregular Rajdhani EOG/SG (Self Generator) Car punched into.
A Set of WDM 2A 18851 from TKD, and WDM 2 16854 Samastipur being smoked in for some purpose, was an important observation, on our way to the Trip Shed Area. RPF Movement being predominant, we did not want to take any chances, but to just have a look in and around the Trip Sheds. The Holdings at that time, go as below:
Electric Trip Shed (ETS/NDLS):
- WAM 4/6PD 20689 AJJ
- WAP 5 30007 GZB
- WAP 4 22259 ED
- WAP 4 22307 CNB
- WAP 4 22315 CNB
- WAP 5 30009 GZB
- WAP 4 22228 CNB
Diesel Trip Shed (DTS/NDLS):
- WDS 4D 19627 SSB
- WDM 3C 18850R LDH
- WDM 2 16641 LDH
- WDM 3C 18943R TKD
- WDM 2 16434 TKD
- WDM 2 17243 TKD
Just after the place, these workhorses were having a refreshing bath, there lies the Broad Gauge Turn table, in complete Working Conditions. This was a real sight of surprise, with a Mosque standing in the background. As if depicting that the Lord himself is the Almighty of all engineering. This is so true.
We spent some time gossiping on and about various topics, off and then. Sights of a WAP - 4E - 22351 - BRC, going towards the Old Delhi Station, with an unknown express, flagged us for a walk, back towards the station. Virtually Saluting the WAP - 7 - 30222 - GZB, we entered the station, while she bid us with a smile, hauling the Kalka Shatabdi. On the other hand, WAP 1 - 22048 - GZB was having some rest after a tedious performance with the MFP - NDLS Licchhivi Express. The Loco looked desperate for a fresh up! Another of its counterparts WAP 1 - 22048 - GZB was doing a morning jog in and out of the station. Good place for a Morning Walk!!:-) Spotting continued after this with the WDM 3A - 18954R from TKD performing some practice rounds of smoke. I felt like reminding her once - Smoking is Prohibited in Railway Premises. Soon a Vatwa based WDM 2 - 16843 was to bring in the Ahmedabad - New Delhi Rajdhani Express at 08:10 AM.
We were waiting on the Platform No. - 2, for the EMU. Killing time was a hard job, with the crowds moving in all directions. Next in the queue was a WDP 1 - 15037 - TKD powered Down Udyan Abha Toofan Express to Howrah, arriving at 08:20 AM. It has a long stop here, followed by a Link Change that eventually happened within the next 20 minutes and the train flagged off, after unloading a heap of stuff from the Parcel Van, on to the Platform, making it difficult to stand because of the indecent stench.
At last, it was time for announcements about the Palwal - Faridabad EMU Local, to arrive on the Platform No. - 3, adjoining ours. Departure was dot on schedule, at 08:50 AM, and Subhabrata and Myself, we opted for seats, while Siddhartha took a place by the side of the Door, for some action. I drove out for a short trip to the World of Siesta, and when woke, it was 09:35 AM, and we were reaching Tughlakabad (TKD). We had a lot of expectations about this place, which started with a great view of the sizeable Container Yard, on both sides of the track. They looked colorful, and quite innovative, in the way space was being utilized, stacking one container Box on another. Siddhartha wanted to shoot the video of the fast Mumbai Rajdhani Express, entering NDLS. It arrived behind a fast and furious WAP - 5 - 30002, within a couple of minutes from our arrival. Once done, it was time to move to the Diesel Loco Shed, in the lookout for the WDP Locos.
The Shed entrance is unusually surrounded with a number of Scrapped Locomotives. The Numbers for the same go here: WDM 2A - 17186, WDP 1 - 15043, WDP 1 - 15020, WDP 1 - 15024. The Primary Shed starts after this. The first point of reach was one of the contacts we got earlier, Kalyani Chaddha. Subhabrata went to meet her, but yet again as usual to the Northern Railways trends, She turned out be a non-cooperative person. She mentioned of being busy, and that they cannot allow us to shoot in and around the Shed, at that time. Following the practice we did earlier, the CPRO was called up. His directives being ignored, I simply do not understand how these folks are working under the same roof!! Ridiculous truly! Even after this, the persuading game went on for quite some time, after which finally Rajeev was called up. We had no other choice but to get his assistance. This worked after all the hardships and we were signaled Green. An Official Guide was allocated to show us the in and around of this Busy Loco Shed.
The Shed is clustered with utmost activity, during the morning hours, by now. But in all this half of the day was turning out to be a Boring Slot in our fixture, for this trip. Everything we wanted to shoot, was being designated as an Accident Loco, and shooting any accident Loco is prohibited. Things were getting frustrating, and so we ignored any prohibition, and utilized the power of the permit to shot anything and everything we wanted to.
The Loco Road Numbers go here:
Diesel Locomotive Shed (DLS/TKD):
- WDP 3 15507 TKD
- WDP 1 15004 TKD
- WDP 1 15025 TKD
- WDM 2 16274 TKD
- WDM 2 16434 TKD
- WDG 3A 13195 UDL (SHAKTI)
- WDM 3A 18593 TKD (GAJRAJ)
That's it, and we decided to move out of the DLS. A NG Steam Loco plinthed outside the Shed, was the last port of photographing, and we steadied towards the Electric Loco Shed, anticipating some variety. This was on a higher level of disappointment, with only a handful of WAG 5s standing in the ELS, all with the standard livery. Subhabrata and myself, we said to ourselves, as this to be a regular sight at Dum Dum JN. So it was no use to waste our energy in talking further to this Foreman. A Walk across a number of Goods Wagons, as if playing the Hurdle race of Olympics, we reached the Tughlakabad station. It was a tiring stretch of walk.
This place has plenty of WAG 7 movement from MGS / NKJ etc, including a number of the 'Tiger Face' Locos. We spotted the first WAP 1 - 22000 - GZB, with the Jhelum Express, along with a WAG - 7 - 27286 from AJNI, crossing each other, while making way to the Ticket counter for our return tickets. And this was another interesting story. The Front Windows of the Booking Counters were all Shut down. The Lady clerk, was selling tickets from the Back Door. On asking for tickets to NDLS, she handed us with a M/E Ticket costing Rs. 19/- each, by the Mumbai Central - Ferozpur Janata Express. She was confused, and rigid enough, not to hand over II-ORDY Tickets, in spite of our wish to travel by a next available Local. Things happen here, and in plenty!!
A number of Up and Down movement after this was in simulation, but I was rather tired of TKD, to take any notes. After long last, WAP 4E - 22382 (CHETAK) - BRC hauled in the Janata Express, late by 40 minutes, from it's scheduled time of 12:01 PM. This was an All Stop Express. It stopped at OKHLA even, and we dragged off at Hazrat Nizamuddin Station. Shook hands and parted with Siddhartha, who had given us a great company, throughout the former half of the day. He was to go to the Delhi Cantt. Station after this, to see off some of his relatives, after this, and so could not part take with the request for a lunch, with us. We had a lot of discussions all this long, and it was a fruitful time we shared together.
Arrival at 01:25 PM, we took an Auto back to CR Park Market One, where it was time for a petite lunch at the Local 'Annapurna Hotel', with a plate of Mutton Rice. A Good piece of Mutton was good to heave off the Boredom of Tughlakabad, followed by a Chewy Bone, reminding us of the CPRO and his Office!!
It was a quick return to the Lodge, where from Subhabrata was to start his return to Kolkata. He left shortly after having some rest. I went along, to help him getting an Auto from the Stands. The Rajdhani, scheduled to depart at 05:00 PM, was late by 45 minutes, that evening. Later I came to know, that he had a satisfactory journey. On the other end, I went on to have some rest after this, making myself ready for the remaining three days of this historic Trip. A refreshing movie, starring Govinda, was enough to charge me up. We had an early dinner, and dived into the World of nightly imaginations, with the Alarm Set for 03:30 AM, next morning.
Day Seven: Exploring AGRA - 'The City of the Taj':
A Call of the Hi-Tech Shatabdi Express Service was irresistible to persist, and being it 'Thee Day', I was up quite early than the Alarming time. Got myself a hot bath, before we were ready to leave. We had been hearing about the Night Auto Services in Delhi, and were lucky enough to get one as well. A Taxi charging almost double than expected, was rejected at first, and then our patience counted for the pocket. This person was very nice, and like the guy we encountered the day during our return from Rewari, he also counted some nice words, before dropping us at the NDLS Station, almost 45 minutes prior to the Scheduled Departure time.
The New Delhi - Bhopal Shatabdi Express was to leave from the Platform No.-1. I made my Parents settle for some time before it all begins, and wondered around sometime, after having a Morning refresher, outside. While back from the breather, it was announcement time for the Shatabdi, which was being headed by the WAP - 5 - 30009 from Ghaziabad. The LHB AC Chair Car Coaches looked just excellent, with the exteriors very much similar to the High Speed Foreign Railways. A quick search for our Coach Number - C6, and we got ourselves settled in the designated Seats - 6, 7 and 8. The Seats were excellent, with long Widow Screens, with a clear view of the outside World, and the Side of every Door, on the outside had an Electronic Display board mentioning - 2002-New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi markings on them. I was a bit disheartened with not getting a Window Seat, which eventually was subsidized when I found that the Seat Number 1 and 2, were waiting occupancy, and I was the first to grasp the Golden Opportunity. Actually the LHB Coaches have an additional Row of Seats that are not allocated by the PRS Counters, because of the System Default Counts. So Advantage - Rail Fan!:-)
The Sliding Doors of the Coaches, and Vestibules, was giving it a Flight like Look. The Seats had sizeable Leg Room, and we were settled by now, when the Signal cleared us for the Start of this memorable day's trip. We departed at 06:05 AM, 5 minutes behind schedule. A slight jerk, while we rolled out of the station, and then things started becoming smoother A short round of Loco Spotting included WAP 1 - 22023 - GZB near the Shivaji Bridge Station, along with a WAG 5HA - 23800 from Asansol, doing some Coal hauling.
Within 06:15 AM, the first round of Tea and Biscuits were served, along with a Copy of the English Newspaper and a Bottle of Mineral Water. Before that the Traveling Ticket Inspector turned up to check our tickets. Upon my request, he left my Ticket Intact, without even marking a Spot on it. So nice of him!:-)
Meanwhile it was time to turn on the Power of the WAP - 5, and I could virtually feel the Speed. We were consistent in and around the Palwal Region, after which the pace leisured a bit. This was cool stuff, to experience, India's Highest Speed Passenger Train, on tracks. Proud to be an Indian and obviously a Rail Fan!!
The Breakfast, served after this, was quite heavy, in terms of what I am used to. It included a Three Slice Chicken Sandwich, A Paneer Cutlet and a couple of Biscuits to go with a Second Pot of Tea. A Mango Drink was an usual contemporary, which I opted to carry for the later part of my day's diet. Having had done with the quick Morning Appetite, it was time to go through the Headlines, before it was time to say Good Bye to this Royal Service.
The Toilets, yet again worth a mention, were excellently maintained and had a soothing Air- Freshener installed in them. Overall we had an extra-ordinary comfort for the high money paid, before landing at Agra Cantonment Station, dot on schedule at 07:56 AM. The most ominous scene after this was the incorrigible number of Local Drivers who made the surroundings unbearable, and we were astounded by the behavior of the RPF Folks, who seemed to be least bothered by all that was happening. I made a hefty shout at one of the nearby RPF Guys, after taking a quick snap of one of the LHB Shatabdi Coaches, as to what was going around. It was then an armed chase out by the Force which scattered the mob out, allowing us pass through. They were helpful after this, to take us to a Gentleman, who runs his own Tourist Vehicle, and we quickly settled in, at the cost of Rs. 850/- for a Complete day's trip, in and Around The City of 'The Taj'.
I had been to Agra, once when I was just Five, and it is now, after 17 long years that we turned up to revive the memories, once again. The Ambassador - URT-8146, was our companion, for the rest of the day, with its driver cum owner, being a courteous Gentleman, Mr. Nishat Mohd. Khan, briefing the points, with the History and Introductions. It is an 8-Hour package which begins at 08:00 AM and roughly ends up around 04:00 PM. This was the best plan, we could go for, because our Return tickets were by the Gwalior-Hazrat Nizamuddin Taj Express.
The Local look around began, with the first sights of a plinthed Locomotive right in front of the Agra Station. The ZE - 53 (Narrow Gauge) Loco was used by the North Central Railway.
The vehicle we booked, had quite a few cramp ups with the Engine, and finally started on, taking us across, 37 Km west on the Agra - Jaipur National Highway, to Fatehpur Sikri. The place is famous after the Sufi Saint and Akbar's Guru, 'Sheikh Saleem Chisti', famous for his spiritual deeds, the foremost significant of which is the Gift of a Child, upon Akbar's prayer for the same, from his Rajput wife 'Mariam-uz-Zamani'. This small village of Sikri, came to be known as 'Fatehabad', after the Mughal Emperor conquered over the state of Gujarat. Akbar's Son Mohammed Saleem, later enthroned as Emperor Jahangir, considered this place to be much fortunate, and chose this to be the Capital of his Empire. By time, the name 'Fatehabad' transformed itself to 'Fatehpur', emphasizing on the Victory this town signifies.
There is no Entry Charges to enter the Palatial Fatehpur Sheikh Saleem Chisti Dargah Complex. The Mausoleum built in Sparkling White Marble, lies in the Center of the beautiful courtyard. Surrounded on all sides by the magnificence of Mughal Architecture, this place has a serenity that attracts one, towards the spiritual eternity. Calm and quite, except for the Local Booksellers and Guides, who can be easily negotiated with, the Complex fortified all around by red Sandstone, holds the Highest Built Gate in the sub-continent, the Grand 'Buland Durwaza', constructed by his highness 'Akbar - The Great' in 1602 AD, commemorating his victory over South India.
Sheikh Saleem Chistie Tomb: This tomb, is the integral part of the Fatehpur Dargah Complex. Built in Milk white marble stone, the entire mausoleum has a Floral Architecture, designing the cenotaph. The Mortal remains of the Sufi Saint, reside in a vault just below the monument. It is a famous place of Worship, with devotes across the World, from all origins, visiting to bestow their devotion, seeking the blessings of the Lord. My Parents had visited this place, much earlier in the Year - 1983 and tied a Thread for their wishes to be fulfilled, and according to the legends, one whose wish comes true, has to definitely visit for the second time to untie the Thread. We did so, to acknowledge the blessings, with sincere devotion. Allah Malik (The God is my Lord)!!
It was a few moments inside the Holy tomb, after which I had a look around the place, and then started our way back towards the Sikri Fort. The Fort has an Entry Ticket of Rs. 20/- per person, and is one of the Vital Spots to Explore in this part of the World. We could not go through the Complete of it, because of Time Constraints, but visited a couple of historical Monuments inside, which form the primary module in the show. A walk through the Ancient Stable, took us into the Fort area, after buying tickets. The fact of this place being a 'Stable' is in doubt to most of the Historians minds, and they consider this as the place, serving the Maids of the Queen, as their residences. This place was known as 'Lower Haramsara'. Spending a couple of minutes there, we moved towards the 'Shabistan-E-Ikbal', popular to be 'Jodhabai Palace'.
Towards the End of the Stables (?), we ended up reaching the beautiful Palace, built by Akbar, to be used by Jodha Bai, the Hindu Wife of his Son. Being a double storied edifice, the Palace has its entrance towards the South. This building displays pure Hindu influence on its architecture as well as in the ornamented carvings that depict Bells and Chains on the Stones.
Adjoining the 'Shabistan-E-Ikbal', is the Hawa Mahal, built by Akbar to be used at night for Sleep, along with his Rajput wives, who used to perform Hindu Rituals. Emperor Akbar used to recline in fresh air with some favored few ladies of his seraglio in peace and seclusion.
With this, we came up to the last spot of visit inside the dominion of the Sikri Fort. This was 'Birbal's Palace'.Birbal, who was one of the 'Nine Gems' in Akbar's Court, had built the wondrous Palace for his beloved daughter. The architecture of this Palace is excellent. We could not afford to stay longer, because, the Taj was calling us.
A 45 minutes drive past to Agra, and now we were on the Approach to the Historic Taj. I was already feeling the spirits reaching higher, enroute visualizing One of the Seven Wonders of the World.
'The Taj Mahal' - A Saga of Love and Faithfulness
The Taj Mahal is situated on the Right Banks of the River - Yamuna, towards the Southern part of the city of Agra, at a distance of 3 Kms. Draped in White Marble, this is known to be the Most Beautifully Crafted Architectural Construction, in the World, built by ShahJahan in the loving memory of his beloved Wife - Mumtaz or Arjumand Bano Begum. There is an Entry ticket for Rs. 20/- per head to enter the Taj. A Couple of hurdles in walking through the Security Pickets before the Main Entrance, courtesy the Over Dose of Security Checking by the govt. of India, C.I.S.F. Force, that make it for a rather unpleasant entry. Imagine, you are not even allowed to Chew an Eclairs while entering the Taj Mahal Complex. Whatever, we made it through after depositing everything we carried, in the Cloak Office nearby, and then it was time just to feel, the eternal bond of Love and Dedication, a person had committed to the highest of Levels for his Beloved.
I remained spell struck for quite some time, before trying to Figure out the amazing Glamour, that the Taj has on offer! In a single Word it is 'indescribable' Beauty. ShahJahan and Mumtaz Mahal, were inseparable lovers and thus after the sudden demise of his adorable, ShahJahan was left in complete distress and his health began to decline. He kept his last promise to Mumtaz, by building the Palacial Tomb of Eternal Love, and dedicated it to the Lady of the Taj, which is a realistic height of dedication in today's context.
Because of increased Pollution Threats, now a days, only Battery Driven Vehicles are allowed inside the 1 Sq. Km circumference of the Taj Mahal. So we had a long walk, before finally reaching the Entrance Gateway. This gate Way is an Octagonal Entrance Hall, surrounded by small rooms on both the sides in the floors, having beautifully ornamented gates on two sides, one opening towards the Court Yard Side, while the other towards the mausoleum itself. Passing it through, we were right in Front, face-to-face with the Taj now. With clear Blue skies, the entire atmosphere was just enchanting. The Taj Gardens on the way from the Entrance to the Tomb, is a wonderfully maintained Lush Green space, which adds to the serenity of this place. A considerable distance to cover after this, and we landed just at the Foot steps of the Dazzling Mansion. The Four Corner Minarets along with the Main Building in the Middle, depict pure 'Panch-Prasada' style and Hindu Influence, upon the Royal Architectures of the Mughals.
A Steep Count of steps to take to the Main Gallery Hall, where the Tombs are located, took us right on to the First Base Floor of the Taj Mahal. The Tombs or Graves of the Empress Mumtaz Mahal and Emperor ShahJahan, are situated in the Hall Below the Upper Tier, and a replica of the same are situated in the Centric below the Main Dome. The Graves lie in the heavenly abode of peace, for the journey into the other World. There is a beautiful Screen or enclosure around the cenotaphs, on Eight sides, surrounding the royal tombs, as if to provide Privacy to the Royal Couple from the visitors. Entry to the Original Hall in the Basement, where the actual Graves lie, is restricted, due to so called conservation work in progress!! Waiting for some time, inside the Hall is not allowed by the People inside the Taj, from CISF. It was a matter of 20 seconds, that we got in and had a quick glimpse, and then it was time to bid adieu and allow the Emperor and his beloved, rest in the abode of God. The Taj Mahal, when built, was architecturally guided with millions of Gems and ornamented with Gold guilds on every corner, which was later taken away by the Ruthless British Invaders, leaving her with no jewels but the craftsmanship bestowed by thousands of Workers for 22 long years, to make her see the first Dawn in the year 1643 AD. It is said that the Twenty Two small domes on the main entrance gate of the Taj, represent the painstaking labor of Twenty two years devoted in constructing this outstanding mausoleum.
A few moments of walk on the Extended Space outside the Cenotaph area, and a glimpse of the Yamuna from there, reminded me of my childhood days, when I first visited this historic monument. We stepped down, and headed back for the Car, which was waiting for almost a couple of hours now. A Final Turn back to the Taj Mahal, and promising to visit her back, we walked back to our vehicle, for a deserving Lunch.
The Only place remaining after this was the Agra Fort, and we decided to visit that after lunch. A Well Known 'Sonam Garden' Restaurant was waiting for our occupancy. Serving us with some hot and spicy Chicken preparations, along with Chapathi, while my Dad went for some 'Dal Fry' and Salad to add-on to the mid-day appetite, the Lunch was quite satisfying. Not only was the Diet, but with it the much desired rest to our feet was necessary, after a long and tedious round of Walking all since, our arrival at Agra.
Lunch was negotiated fast and we set out for the remaining of the Day's itinerary. A Four-Km drive from the restaurant, took us to the Last Spot of the Day - AGRA FORT.
Apart from the Royal Tomb of the Taj, Agra is also famous for this Fort, that is an important place to visit, on the Right Banks of the Yamuna. This Famous fort of Agra, was constructed by the mighty Mughal Emperor Akbar - The Great, between the Years 1565 to 1573 AD. The Fort is built by thick and strong walls of red sandstone. Legends relate that the Agra Fort was built in place of the old Badalgarh Fort, which was a strong foothold of the Rajput Rulers. Entrance to the Fort for tourists is to be made through the Amar Singh's Gate, on the southern proximity of the premises. The Gate commemorates a historic dedication of the great Rajput Hero, Amar Singh Rathore, Maharaja of Jodhpur. It is said that in 1644 AD, in full court of Emperor ShahJahan, Salabat Khan, the imperial treasurer insulted him, on which Amar Singh slew Salabat Khan. This turned the Mughal Army against Amar Singh. Riding on his horse back, he jumped out of the High Walls of the Fort, near the spot where now is built the gate to mark the event. His horse suffered the pains and dedicated his life for the Warrior Rajput King. In memory of this marvelous incident, a red sandstone horse was built near the Entrance.
An Entry Ticket is again a regular to purchase, worth Rs. 10/-, and after another round of thorough Security Check Ups, we were allowed to enter the Once Proud Territory of the Mughals. Passing by the Jahangiri Palace, the path tends to move higher on an elevated plain, where the Khas Mahal, Diwan-I-Khas and Diwan-E-Aam are located. I had an impression of a particular room, from where the Taj Mahal could be viewed clearly. We started walking for that very point, and as we aimed on, it was a series of Huge Wells, cum Tunnel Paths, that were passed by. These were used for rescue operations, during any crisis situation. Finally, it was the Spot, I was chasing for. It is known as the 'Samman Burj' or Jasmine Tower. It was built by Jahangir for his Empress Noor Jahan, which was later remodeled by ShahJahan for Mumtaz Mahal. It is a miraculous work of marble fulligral work, in laid with semi precious colorful stones. It is the same place where ShahJahan was kept imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, the cruelest of Mughal Rulers ever ruled. The taj is visible very distinctly from this place, and appears like a shining piece of Moon, or the most beautiful palace of heaven to be laid on Earth.
My faint Childhood memories, were pointing to an inverted cistern that was there inside the 'Burj'. And Yes, I was damn right. In front of the Samman Burj, is a shallow cistern of semi-precious stone. Towards the west wards of this is an airy Window, to have the clear view of the 'Taj', with a clear Blue Skies forming a beautiful backdrop.
The Elephant Gate in the Agra Fort has been closed now, and is in use by the Indian Army for Defence. Hab=ving had enough of the Day Tour, we made way back to the Station, after buying some famous 'Pethas' (A Kind of Desert Delicacy and speciality of Agra) from Panchi Petha Shop, for home. Mr. Khan, dropped us near the Agra Cantt. Station, from where it was after a Waiting time of around a Couple of Hours, before the 2179 DN - Gwalior - Hazrat Nizamuddin Taj Express arrived, behind a WAP 1 - 22060 - GZB, on the Platform No. - 2.
We were in the Coach - C2, and I had got myself a bag full of literature about the History and places of Agra, for a Good time pass. Dinner on board was the only option left with us, after we started running like a Super Crawler, just leaving Mathura, after a stoppage time of 30 minutes, leaving us 45 minutes Late.
The quality of dinner was horrible, and was rather inedible. I went ahead to register an official complaint, on a dedicated Pad Slip for Taj Express Catering. This was the first time, I found a Complaint Pad dedicated to one train. The uneventful journey ended rather casually, with the Train reaching Hazrat Nizamuddin Station, 1 Hr. 10 Minute behind schedule, at 11:00 PM. Having heard a lot of praising words about the Taj Express, our experience went otherwise. A tired couple of eyes, spotted the WAP - 7 - 30208 from GZB, standing in the adjoining platform, with the Down Himalayan Queen from Kalka, looking rather ominous, because of the illumination around.
A quick stretch to the Pre-Paid Auto Booking Counter and getting us an Auto back to C.R.Park for Rs.60/-, we were the happiest persons, to get to bed, awaiting yet another packed up tour on the day following. Day Eight: DELHI Sights:
Delhi, the Capital of India, is obviously the most varied and diverse cosmopolitan in the country, with cross board activities including Diplomatic, Social and Technology circles, making it up for a massive circumference of a balanced and busy life cycle. Ruled by almost 70 Kings across a period of 1200 years, Delhi has been the celebrated Capital on most occasions, and traversed through crucial political and royal challenges, at times. Connected well with the rest, the city is like the Heart of the nation. The famous Rajdhani Express services by the Indian Railways, act as a team of well organized connectors, with the other Major cities in the country. It has a diverse cultural activeness, with a varied spectrum of religions making it up for a university in diversity. Festivals, Fairs and other social activities keep Delhi in the Headlines during most of the month. In All it is the Celebrated Capital of this Secular and Dynamic Republic of India!
It was the very next day after the Agra Tour, that we had chosen for exploring the Sights of Delhi. Tickets for the Day Tour were booked with a Travel Operator at C.R.Park, earlier that week, at the cost of Rs. 110 /- per head, by Non A.C. Bus. The Tour Programme was being conducted by 'Mother India Travels'.
A series of Early wake up's was now a regularity. We were ready by 09:00 AM, and waiting just in front of the Pick Up point near the Market No. - 3, C.R.Park Kali Temple. The Bus - DL 1PA / 6765 named as 'Palace on Road', was soon to arrive, and after a long session of pick up from various points, we were led to the first spot of the Day - The Red Fort.
A tour conducted by a Travel Operator never gives you a chance to peep into the insides of any spot, listed in the itinerary. It is virtually a glimpse of the place that one can make out. So we did. We were given a 1 Hour time, to have a look around the Red Fort, which can not be covered in even a Complete Day, provided the quest is for reaching every corner of this historic monument, which can very easily be rated as one of the most beautifully built monuments of the World. This massive Fort is the most magnificent of all Royal Palaces in the Sub-Continent. The Red Sandstone built architecture holds some of the mightiest walls surmounted by fine towers curved to give it a photogenic outlook. And guess who built this? It was no other than the craftiest ruler of the Mughal Era - Shah Jahan.
After leaving Agra, due to the city's drawbacks, with space and weather forming some of the crucial constraints, Shah Jahan decided to build this Fort, in 1639 AD, and after a prolonged effort under the renowned architect Mukarmmat Khan, this Grand Palace was built, at an estimated cost of 9 Crore Rupees. The Red Fort upon completion bore the name as 'Qila-E-Mubarak' or the Fortune Citadel, later transformed to 'Qila-E-Mullah' or the Fort of Exalted Dignity, during the rule of Akbar Shah-II and Bahadur Shah.
Entry to the Fort is to be made through the Western Gateway, popular as the 'Lahore Gate', as this is the only Gate open for public. Tickets @ Rs. 11/- per person, needs to be purchased before entering the dominion. After this, going past the Lahore Gate, after thorough Security check ups, one takes a walk through the famous Meena Bazaar, under the entrance pathway, flanked by crowned towers. The Meena Bazaar was initially made by Shah Jahan for the Ladies of his Palace, as a place of their entertainment. Souvenir Shops in this area, now have exclusive collections resembling Sultanate Ages to give your room a Mughal touch.
The prime attractions inside the Palacial Enclave include the Naubat Khana, the Royal Entertainment Hall, where the Emperor used to enjoy the tunes of the Royal Bands.The Diwan-I-Aam is the next to stop by. A well adorned hall containing historical pictures, it is enclosed by arcade cloisters which were brilliantly gilded and brightly decorated with flowers. The Emperor's Seat place in the centre of the Diwan-E-Aam. Adjoining the Diwan-E-Aam, is another magnificent marble pavilion plinthed on a high platform, which is known as the Diwn-E-Khas, where the Emperor used to retire after his morning Darbar in the Diwan-E-Aam, for confidential discussions with the privileged few. Other attractions include the Khas Mahal, Royal Bath, Pearl Mosque and Samman Burj.
Apart from the Fort, the complex includes a 'Freedom Fighter's Museum or Swadhinata Sangrami Sangrahalay', which rooms portraits of most of the Freedom Fighters who dedicated their life to the nation and her independence. To my utter dismay, I could not find a single pictoral display of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, there. It is a clear discrimination and injustice!!
An Archaeological Museum is also located inside the area. It rooms some of the artifacts from the Mughal period, include Potteries, dresses and armouries, coins and certain official transcripts from that period, of significant importance. Currently it is under conservation and so could not be explored completely. And Time was ticking the count of an Hour, within 10 minutes. So we hurried back to the Pick up point for the Bus to take us over to the Next Spot - Rajghat, the Samadhi or Cremation Ground of the Father of the Nation - Mahatma Gandhi. Enroute it was the Jama Masjid, a famous landmark of Delhi, and Raj Path, which holds the Diplomatic Enclave of the Present representatives of the nation, within the Parliament House and The Cabinet Secretariats, which is at least clear to me about their deeds for the common man!! Anyways a glimpse of the Parliament and the Hi-tech Secretariat Enclave was relishing to most of the tourists, while I could only afford a sight of dismay towards the game of utter faithlessness played by the Government of my Proud! Nation.
Soon we were at the Rajghat, the Samdhi of Mahatma Gandhi. On the ground, at a distance of 4 furlong outside the India Gate lies the Samadhi or the Cremation Site. On the Day of 31st Jan, 1948, the day after 'Bapu' was assassinated; his funeral cremation was done here. Every Friday a prayer is held to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation, with due respect. The serenity of this place is really appreciable, and surrounding Rajghat are a number of 'Samadhi Sthals' or Cremation Landmarks of some of the important dignitaries of the country, like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, etc.
The Journey continued after this till India Gate. This is the War Monument in the memory of the soldiers who died in the Great War of 1914 - 18. Its foundation stone was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, in 1912 and inaugurated by Lord Irwin. The inscribed names of more than 30000 soldiers stand proud on the tall gateway, honored by the 'Amar Jawan Jyoti', the Fire of Peace, guarded by the Indian Army. Inscriptions on the Gate read 'To the dead of the Indian Armies who fell honored in France and Flanders, Mesopotamia and Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the near and the far-east and in the sacred memory also of those whose names are recorded and who fell in India on the north-west frontier and during the Third Afghan War'. After paying a worthy homage of silence, and sharing some memories amidst the George-V Gate and India gate, it was time to bid adieu to the Green fields and the Peaceful memorial, leaving my soul with those who lost their near and dear ones towards the dedication and passion for their Mother India.
The Bus moved on to reach the last spot before lunch Time. It was the Indira Gandhi Museum. Once the residence of late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the 1. Safdarjung Road building has now been converted into a museum, and named 'Indira Smriti'. The rooms all remain intact, living the memories of the family, with the different aspects of their life. The books, awards, journals, household articles and usable, are well preserved, in the different rooms of this Diplomatic residency. A showcase displaying Rajeev Gandhi's last Dress, in devastated state, reminds all of the tearful day of 1991. The well decorated Dining and Study rooms, used by Indira Gandhi, made me touched and turn speechless when I walked across the Spot where she was assassinated by her own Body Guard. Tears were unstoppable imagining the disastrous moment right in front. A prayer for Peace and faithfulness to the almighty, and our walk continued towards the vehicle to take us for a much needed appetite.
The Lunch Break was taken at a Dhaba near the Qutub Minar. Considerably expensive and not that better in quality as well, the supper was just like a regularity to have, after which it was our turn to visit the historic Qutub Minar. Situated at a distance of 2 Kms from the place where we had lunch, the Bus took hardly 10 minutes to reach. We got ourselves the Entry Tickets quickly, @ Rs. 10/- per head, and got into the Qutub Complex. This highest tower in India, the turret of which acted as a sentinel watching the movement of the ranks of aggressors and now keeps an eye upon the activities of the residents of Delhi and its suburbs, was created by the last Hindu ruler of the country, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, and as a result there is quite a strong reason to belive that this magnificent tower was once called as 'The Prithvi Stambh'. Later the Sultanate ruled over the country and Qutub-ud-din Aibak refurbished the tower into the Muslim Architecture. It is said that the Qutub used to be a 7-storey Tower, but today, after resisting almost 700 Years, it remains as a 5-Storey Minar or Tower. The last construction is said to have been completed by Firoze Shah Tughlak, that of the 5th or Top Level, in the year-1357 AD.
The Height of Qutub Minar is 233 Feet and 8 inches, with a total of 379 Steps to reach to the topmost level. The Famous Iron Pillar can be seen in the middle of the Qutub Complex, which is said to be from the Gupta period. A few mosques and temples, along with the Ruins and ramparts of the ancient architectures, are worth visiting.
The second last spot of the Day, was the Bahaai temple.A genuine marvel of modern architecture, this temple is located near Kalkaji at a place called Baharpur. The motif of this temple is a Lotus Shaped architecture, with the prime purpose of it serving as a meditation hall, with an aim of World Peace.It was built in 1987, and during my childhood days, it was one of my favorite spots to be at, with my parents during the weekends. Because of the shape of this temple, resembling a Lotus, it is often referred to as the 'Lotus Temple', with the surrounding Gardens looking marvelous amidst the approaching dusk. The setting Sun Rays, give the temple a glitter and the White Marble Temple, turns into a Golden Lotus, resembling the power of the Sun to transform Peace into the most powerful entity on earth. Due to time constraints, we could not enter the Temple this time, but my memories are still intact of the Prayer Hall inside, where Silence invites Peace to prevail.
Our 'Palace on Road', continued its stretch after this to take us to the End of the Show, with a glimpse of the Great Hindu Mythology, powered by 21st Century Technology, in the form of an unforgettable saga of the 'Gita - 3D cum Light and Sound Show', in the Iskcon Temple. This was the touch of the Understandings and Self Realizations emphasized by the detailed illustrations of the Hindu Shastras. Simply enchanted by the atmospheric show, we called it a day, after being dropped of at C.R.Park by 06:30 PM.
Dinner was taken early that night, and we slept long, before waking up the next day to visit some of our Old Fiends and families, whom we had parted off 16 years back. A visit to the Cambridge school, at Srinivaspuri, which had nurtured my childhood days, and a visit to the Lajpat Nagar area, where I had spent most of my young days, till before settling in Kolkata, way back in 1990. During the evening time, it was time to pay a grateful visit to Dr. P.D.Gulati, Nephrologist, who had played a Key role in making me stand, where I am today, and helping me recover from the rather tough struggles of my childhood. I am truly thankful to the Almighty to have helped me in the form of him, to see this day, and stand proud to explore the world around me.
Day Ten: Back to Pavilion:
After a week packed with activities, it was time to bid adieu to Delhi, for the second time, and again head back to me regular life at Kolkata. We had booked the tickets by the New Delhi - Sealdah Rajdhani Express and this was a special journey to me by the Air Conditioned First Class (1A) of a Rajdhani, which is supposed to be the highest level of comfort in Passenger Traffic, by Indian Railways.
We were at the station quite early compared to the scheduled departure at 16:45 Hrs from the Platform No. - 5.The Cost per person from NDLS to SDAH- is Rs. 4255/- only, for the 1457 Km journey, by 2314 DN. We had the Coupe No. - F, serving us. The train left on time, behind a WAP - 7 - 30209 from Ghaziabad, doing the honors.
A long chain of Tanker rakes followed by a Gonda based Jumbo, WDM 2B - 17833, at Sahebabad, was the only spotting, I could concentrate, outside the scope of ultimate luxury and hospitality, by the IRCTC and the Train Staff. The only problem being the ICF Rakes, that gave a voluminous amount of jerk, all through, but except that everything else was just perfect and quite above standards. The Red Velvet cover on the Seats added show, compared to the regular 1A Seats in other Mail/Express trains. The Train Manager - Mr. Tarun Karmakar (I had asked him about mentioning his name in my write up and he most readily obliged), was a wonderful person, with a polite and responsible head on his shoulders. The Travelling Ticket Examiner, Mr. Balaram Biswas, was also a nice person, and did not scratch my Tickets, upon request. But ultimately, I had to part off with it, and deposit the same in hope of the Refund of Excess fare, that was levied before 1st April, when from, the fare of 1A and 2A had gone down by a considerable margin.
Soon the series of Royal food was started to be served. The Evening snacks included a Club Sandwich, with a Non-Veg Samosa, a Packet of Dry Fruits, a Perk and a pot of simmering Tea. Half and hour later, a Tetra Pack of Juice was served, to keep the mouth ticking. The order for dinner was taken just after this, and we opted for Non-Veg. Soon it was dark outside, and I chose to climb up on the Second Tier and settle for a short siesta, before the Soup and Bread Sticks were served at 07:45 PM, sharp.
The Dinner was something more than sufficient, for us. Resonably well cooked, compared to the regular service, and served in Special Porcelain Cutlery, the Supper consisted of a Bowl of Rice each, followed with Three Hand Made 'Chhapathis', a Bowl of Dal Fry, Alu Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower) Masala, and a well cooked Chicken Curry. I had ordered for a breast piece, and got a couple of them, almost making me run out of space, after completing the series. A well deserved Butter Scotch Cup Ice-Cream, was the final item, before the Pantry Car Staff, wished us a Good Night, with a couple of mouth fresheners.
As usual, the Morning Tea, was served quite early at 06:30 AM. I was sleeping deep by then, and my Mom took two pots, to settle for the early start. I had to wake up, with the Corn Flakes and Milk served at 07:30 AM. I went for a cup of tea, rather than the Corn Flakes, which I never had liked much.
Soon it was time for the Breakfast to be served. As regular, the Staff placed the Tables inside the Coupe first, and then served the tray full of morning starters. Three Slices of Sizeable Bread, a Good Omelette, some French fries and the second pot of Tea, were served. I was eager to get back to a short span of sleep, in this imperial Comfort. Having had done with the Breakfast, a brush up on the day's headlines, with the Times of India, I went straight on to have a second round of sleep.
Soon, the Train Manager, arrived for our feedback, and shared quite some time, with various experiences, from his tenure. We appreciated the staff's performance, and just as we were going into a series of discussions, an announcement of a Passenger loosing her hand bag, was made, which made him hurry towards that coach. He also mentioned that last night, a Passenger had fallen seriously sick, and he made the train stop for an emergency, and called the Doctors to give him treatment. It was just appreciable!!
The Last Glass of Cold Drink was served some time later, marking the end of a wonderful journey, packed with diet, all through. We reached Sealdah at 11:15 AM, a bit late, which I would have loved to stretch a bit longer..;-) A snap of the WAP7, and shaking hands, with the Train Manager, we parted off to head for the Pre-Paid Taxi Booth. After a payment of Rs. 130/-, we were through with the cab, to take us back within 45 minutes, across the regular hurdles of the morning traffic.
The Ecstasy of Rewari, Ghaziabad, along with the memories of my Childhood days, made the nostalgia of this 'Del'hi'cious Fusion', turn out into a successful and happening trip altogether.
Sincere Thanks to:
Subhabrata Chattopadhyay - For his excellent and enthusiastic Company Siddhartha Ganesh - For being a vibrant Rail Fan. Rajeev Srivastav - For whom the Trip saw the lights of this day.