Bhavnagar Terminus - Mahuva (NG 109km)

by R Sivaramakrishnan


(Posted to IRFCA on 2006-09-27.)

As the ruler of a progressive native state, the Maharaja of Bhavnagar had formed in 1880 one of the earliest native state railways in India after Baroda and Hyderabad - a 166-km. metre gauge line to Wadhwan in the adjoining state. The 1 : 4 million Bartholomew map of India (1cm = 40km) paints the entire Saurashtra coast green for up to 20km inland that would give the impression that everything therein lies below 328 feet above mean sea level. But low hills and ridges, some rising to 600 feet or more, often abound this coast. Though, for almost all its course, the line runs within 10-20km of the Gulf of Cambay, the ground realities of the terrain traversed by the Bhavnagar - Mahuva line belie any expectation of a smooth progress: it has to snake its way through in gullies and depressions between low mounds, twisting this way and that, and ascending and descending over gradients of 1 in 100 and, often, 1 in 75, every few hundred metres.

I do not know when exactly the Bhavnagar - Mahuva line was laid - it was not listed among the networks operating as in June 1905, in the "Imperial Gazatteer of India", 1909. A road ran very close to the railway all the way from the outskirts of Bhavnagar to Talaja (58km), like an unseparated Siamese twin, sharing some bridges. The road also served as the "platform" in small stations, with a tiny shed for office on the other side of the road. The road must have existed much earlier, perhaps just metalled, connecting important towns to the S. of Bhavnagar to the capital and also serving feeder roads to small ports. The railway was obviously laid later at its edge, and in the narrow gauge, to minimize the cost of its construction over a frequently undulating terrain, accounting for the sudden appearance of a narrow gauge line in the "heart", rather a fringe, of a metric domain. Another point worthy of note was that almost all the level-crossings were unmanned. Since the line deviated from the road between Talaja and Mahuva, this section might have been a subsequent extension on an independent alignment. I had noted down 48 curves, most of them sharp or steady, in the first 58km up to Talaja, one per 1.2km - it must be borne in mind that each curve itself extends over quite some distance - and 17 in the 50km from Talaja to Mahuva, almost all of them sharp or steady, one every 3 kilometres: there were fewer curves on the latter section, but the terrain was equally unsteady as before, traversed in the latter section by using more cuttings and embankments on an alignment independent from that of the pre-existing road. Certainly there were no lofty hills nor deep ravines, no viaducts nor dense greenery, but the way the line was built to traverse the terrain was a remarkable feat of engineering. In its own humble way, it could hold up a candle to the much-vaunted Konkan railway that was constructed decades later with all advanced technologies.

The railway was closed, I again do not know exactly when, but, most likely, subsequent to the Report of the Railways reforms Committee in 1983 which had recommended that "forty unviable lines where adequate, alternative road facilities were available …… should be closed down." (The Financial Express, Net edition, 26 Feb., 2006).

My friend was visiting me from Australia. We embarked on a tour that took us, from Madras, via Secunderabad, Manmad, Bhusaval, Surat, on some of the WR NG lines to its N, to Ahmedabad, then on MG lines of Saurashtra. We had reached Bhavnagar Terminus the previous evening from Palitana after climbing the adjacent Satrunjaya (1977'), the holy mountain of the Jains, to see some of its over 800 spotless temples, the earliest of them dating back to the 11th century.

Bhavnagar, a town of relatively recent origins, lies on the East coast of Saurashtra peninsula with Broach across the Gulf of Cambay. There are extensive tidal creeks and swamps to the N, where salt is manufactured. There is a shallow harbour with lock gates, to the NW of the town, serving to export cotton goods. But we did not go there, nor to a small hill which was said to afford a sweeping view of the Gulf of Cambay. Finding accommodation in the retiring room, we were glad to stay put there, except for a stroll in the evening to have supper in the town just to the S.

Bhavnagar - Trapaj

…Bhavnagar Terminus (14.00m) the station had a very long (>500m) main platform, aligned SW/NE, serving the MG line from Surendranagar, with a solid row of offices on the SWn end and a bay for two NG lines at the other. There was a shorter island opposite the block of offices, past which were sidings. d. 0505. Our NG mixed had a W class (0-6-2) engine with 3 carriages in all, first a eight-wheeler GS and two four-wheeler ELR's.[1] Ran NE past a long tin goods shed on the other side of the MG lines, then curved right past a dark (cotton?) mill. Turned left, crossing above the m .g. lines (bound for the port?). 1-0/2 steady right curve, more factories and mills, first on the left, then on the right. Caught a brief glimpse of the sea line, curved left, running on 1' high embankment; a few neat houses, more factories, an unmanned level-crossing with a tarred road, more spaced-out houses. 3-0: In a low cutting with the flat top of a mound on both sides. Scattered houses, another unmanned level-cross, then on a low embankment.

(4) Manekwadi. a 0518, d 0519. A 150m long, low level platform at right (W), with rock-walled office, electric posts in front and a large waiting hall. Large, new and neat houses on both sides of the station. Two unmanned level-crossings, more houses. 4-10: Land opened out, level. 5-1: unmanned level-cross. 5-2/4 left curve; houses on slight elevation to the right, then huts, as the tarred road that was to keep us company all the way to Talaja (58km), closed in on the right to run parallel.

(6) Takteshwar a 0529, d 0530. No loop or siding. Long platform at right (W), usual rock office, road just outside, houses beyond. Just out of the station, held up for 10 mins. by red signal. More neat, large houses on both sides. 6-0: Unmanned level-cross of tarred road. More bungalows. 6-8: 200 up/1600 dn. Some scattered houses on level terrain with a few thorn trees around.

6-14 Krishnanagar (50.27m) a 0535, d 0551, watering station. Crossed an opposite number.waiting on the main track to the left, ourselves received on the loop with a long but low-level platform. Two more loops to the left past the main track, with small a goods shed. More houses to fore-right (SW). 7-0: Weathered rocky subsoil, terrain slightly rough, with a gentle decline to the left (E). Road closed in on the left; crossed R. Kansara by 12 × 20′ girder bridge on rock pillars, with road bridge just to the right; road then veered away a little. 7-17 (= 8-0) gentle left curve. Across slightly rough terrain, hedges of thorn; to fore-right (SW), 10km away, a low but steady ridge ran, past undulating terrain. Then leveller, with open bare fields. Some houses in a depression to the right (E). Chugging our way at a steady 30km/h.

10-0 Adhevada, a 0559, d (?) - No loop or siding. Unpaved platform at right with a small tin office. 10-2/7: steady, quite sharp right curve; ascended on a 20' embankment across a pock-marked shallow depression with the road on a 2' embankment and a causeway, 100 metres to the right. 10-7/8, crossed R. Adhevada by 10 × 20′ girder bridge on rock pillars, above a dry, grassy bed. 10-14/11-1: steady left curve, putting us on a nearly SSWly course. 11-2: 125 up / L. Across the En edge of a 5km wide, shallow depression, absolutely open, slightly undulating with bare, thin fields, very sparesly treed. Tarred road closed in on the right, beyond which the depression was lush green and, 8km away, low ridge lines. 12-0: Some hedged, grassy fields on both sides; otherwisw very few trees, 12-10/12 curved left, to do nearly S. Then curved slightly to the right to enter

13-9 Budhel (62.60m) a 0610, d 0612. Lantern posts, small, tiled office-cum-waiting hall on low-level platform serving a loop. 0611: sunrise. Ran S-SSW, with a lush green, shallow depression to the right, past a dense cluster of tiled houses. To the left, thinner, bare fields. 13-13 Another cluster of railway-tiled houses, the tarred road joined at right, within grazing distance; 14-3: curved right, 14-6 curved left, with the road doggedly clinging to our track. 14-11 citrus trees, pomegranates, then cactii. 15-0/2, steady right curve to run W-SSW, across thin, bare, open fields. Low ridge 5km away to fore-right. 15-10 terrain more undulating; open, poorer fields, with cactus hedges. 15-11/12 slight right curve to run SW across a shallow depression with a little maize. 16-10/12 steady left curve, descending the shallow depression. The road inseparable from us at right. 17-0, 17-5 left curves across the depression with low ridges on its rim 3km away to our fore-right. 17-14, slight right curve, across bare, open fields with grey/light brown topsoil. 18-11/12 left curve; bare fields with occasional citrus gardens; 19-7/8: sharp right curve. The ridge 4km to fore-right, with bare, brown, folded scarp face. 20-0. Leveller fields, brick houses on both sides. 20-5/6 curved left, then slightly right.

20-7. Kobdi (98.30m) a 0629, d 0630. Low level platform at left; no loop or siding. Some houses around. 21-2: gentle right curve across pockmarked land with bare fields. 21-7: 100 up/75 up with a narrow stream closing in on the left. 22-1: open, bare, light grey fields . 22-9: 75 up/100 dn. past left curve, clearing a brief chain of low hillocks to the right. The tarred road still clinging on to us at the right, though not much of a traffic was seen passing in either direction. Leveller fields; 22-14/15, 23-6/7: right curves, land dipping ahead. 23-14/25-5: gentle left curve. Slightly leveller, better fields on both sides, but bare and open. 24-7: sharp right curve to cross at 24-9, R. Bhedi by 1 × 40′ girder bridge, 24-10, left curve, running nearly S. Cactii-hedged, open, thin fields. 25-5: a couple of huts near a large banyan tree. A low, discontinuous ridge appeared close to the right, beyond which the steadier ridge was closing in ahead. Across corrugated undulations, 25- 14: right curve, ascended a 20' embankment to cross at 26-0/1 R. Bhandarya by 3 × 40′ girder bridge. 26-4: 100 dn/75 up, land then levelled up. Pomegranate gardens. Old houses on both sides. 26-7: 75 up/400 dn. More houses.

26-9 Bhadi Bhandariya a 0644, d 0645. …… [Some distraction] …….. Low ridge ahead; to the left (E) a treed, shallow dip. 27-8: slight left curve; open, leveller fields, bare with grey topsoil. 28-0: 200 up/500 up. Low ridge to the fore-right, declining ahead in height and getting closer. 28-15: some young maize crops at left (E) beyond which gentle, rough dip. 29-2: Ran SSW across absolutely open, barren, grey land with occasional pretensions of being fields. 30-0: low mounds to fore-left and fore-right.. 30-7/8 sharp left curve. 30-9: crossed a dry stream by a 20' girder bridge. The low ridge to the right, 3km away, seemingly parallel. To the right lower, discontinuous ridge, much closer. 32-2: more of undulations, tarred road still at right like a leech. 33-0: some maize; 33-1: 75 up/ (?). 33-9/11 sharp right curve to cross, at 33-12, R. Bhakheda, 3 × 20′ girder. 33-11 yet another right curve, to do W-SSW. 34-1: the road on the right level-crossed (unmanned) over to the left, to continue running close.

34-6. Tanasa (120.55m) d 0701, after a 30 sec halt. No platform, the tar road at the left itself serving as one, running between the main track and a small rock office-cum- waiting hall.[2] Some rly. quarters to the right past a loop. Then with the road at our left, tiled houses on both sides. 34-12 sharp left curve, then sharp right curve; 34-13 the tarred road level-crossed over to the right, with a couple of state transport buses waiting at the unmanned level-crossing hemmed in between houses. Across leveller terain, with the road just at our right, beyond which open undulations up to the low ridge 4km away. Fields again with grey topsoil, but bare. 36-10: Crossed a dry stream by 20' girder bridge. More open undulations, the ridge on the right further away. 37-7: 100 up/L, crossing another dry stream by 20' girder bridge. Running S. 37-12: L/75 dn; 38-1: L/100 up, 39-0: 100 up/75 dn. The ridge to the right was 39-9: slight left curve; some trees around, otherwise op en, not very level, bare fields petering out in distance. The tarred road, as ever, faithfully at our right. 40-3, 40-6: dry streams crossed by 20' girder bridges. 40-7: L /(?), 41-0: 75 dn/75 up, shallow, open dips on both sides; a few houses. Making way between a mound at left and a low, brief ridge at the right, passed

41-10. Trapaj Bungalow (99.04m), non-stop at 0715. A low platform, at left with a tiny tin office. No loop or siding. More of undulating, open wasteland with occasional, grey topsoiled fields, bare. 41-11: 400 up/75 up; 41-13: 100 up/75 dn., curved right across a shallow dip, with bare, cactii-hedged fields. Land sloping down to the right. 43-14: 100 up/75 dn. Road clutching at right. 44-5. Trapaj (83.97m), a 0720. Quite a long waiting hall adjoining a small office, all walled with corrugated tin sheets on low-level, unpaved platform, aligned NNE/SSW, serving a loop at left; the loop extended as a brief siding with a medium-sized goods shed, also of tin sheets. The line curved sharply to the right just past the station, the road at its right, also curving with it. Some buildings past some petty shops lining the road; low mounds around bare, open, thin fields. Though nothing much to write about, the place impacted us with a peculiar charm in the morning light. Desiring to travel on the only rail motor car then operating on this line, and due to arrive shortly at Trapaj for Bhavnagar, we got off. We would be journeying back 30km to Budhel on the RMC, thence take the mixed from Bhavnagar to complete our journey to Mahuva, though it meant doing the Budhel - Trapaj section thrice. We waited along with some local people and the chain-drive RMC arrived at 0856, 35 mins. behind time.

Trapaj - Budhel by RMC

44-5. Trapaj d 0812. Could see the rim of the plateau some 30km inland to W in the clearer daylight. 41-10 Trapaj Bungalow, non-stop at 0819. 38-2 Dihor, non-stop at 0927. Had missed seeing this inconspicuous halt on the downtrip. Had no loop or siding 34-15 Tanasa (120.55m), a 0835 d 0838. The whining RMC was decidedly slower, having taken 25 mins. for the 9.3km non-stop from Trapaj to Tanasa, thus averaging 22.3km/h, whereas the steam-hauled mixed had taken just 19 mins, at an average of 29.4km/h. Could the fact that Tanasa lay 37m higher in altitude might have accounted for the difference, as the mean gradient works out to 1 in 251 down from Tanasa to Trapaj. However, such a direct comparison might not be apt, since the RMC and the W-engine would differ in power and had different loads to haul. 26-9. Bhadi Bhandariya a 0852, d 0853. The RMC got quite crowded with commuters. 13-9 Budhel (62.6m) a 0920. Got of here, took tea and ate some groundnuts. The RMC had taken 42 mins. for the 58m descent from Tanasa to Budhel over 21.5km, whereas the steam mixed had taken 49 mins. in the ascent, averaging 1 in 371.Both had stopped in two stations in between for less than 1 min. at each; The RMC had done a gallopping average of 30.7km/h, wheras the steam had struggled at 26.3. So the difference could be attributed mainly to the gradients.

Budhel - Trapaj - Mahuva by W class steam-hauled mixed

13-9 Budhel. The Mahuva bound mixed arrived 1012, departed 1017. It was crowded with standees, but many milkwomen with empty brass cans had stretched themselves on the benches. We had to push our ways in and and cajole two of the women to sit up for our getting seats. As the light was brighter, we could glimpse the sea some 6km to the E past open undulations. 20-7 Kobdi a 1035 d 1039. Many village women were waiting with vessels on the platform to collect water from the engine tender. …. Bhadi (118.58m) d 1049 after a 45 sec. stop. Had missed seeing this station, passed non-stop by the two previous trains. Small tin shed on short, unpaved platform at right (W). 26.9 Bhadi Bhandariya a 1056, d 1103. Almost all the milkwomen got down, but others got in, so the train was full again. 38-2 Dihor a 1131, d. after 30 sec. Small tin office, just across the road, which served as the platform 44-5 Trapaj a 1145

44-5 Trapaj (83.97m) a 1145 d 1153. Steady right curve to run W-SSW, the road also curving with us, past a school built of rock; then houses lined along the other side of the road.. 44-11, very gentle left curve, more houses; 44-13: across slightly unsteady fields, bare and open; 45-0: 75 dn/ (?) ; sharp left curve. 45-1: the line suddenly curved right, crossing over to the other (right) edge of the road [3] and again twisted back to its left edge, within 50 metres; at once, the line together with the road at the right crossed a stream by a 20' girder bridge; 45-11/12: quite sharp left curve, then across a low, open mound, with bare fields, grey top-soiled. fields. 46-7/10 Leveller terrain. 47-1/3 sharp right curve, ascending a low mound with a dip to the right (N-WNW) beyond which were seen the tops of a few nearby hillocks and then could be clearly seen, over 25km away, Satrunjaya, near Palitana, which we had visited only the day before. More low mounds on all sides w ith shallow dips in between. 49-9: 20' girder across Shetrunji canal. 49-12/14: right curve, a sharp hillock to fore-left (S) with a wide, shallow dip ahead. 51-4: most of the low ridges to the right passed. 51-9: 75 dn/100dn. 51-10/11, a sharp left curve, crossed a 10' irrigation canal. 51-12/13, sharp right curve; corrugated undulations with heavily top-soiled fields, bare and open. Passed a few tiled houses.

52-4 Velavadar, a 1210, d 1212. The road at right again serving as the platform, beyond which a small tin office. 52-6: road level-crossed over to the left. 52-7/10, steady right curve, ascending on a 8' embankment, with the road below. A conical hillock past the shallow dip on the left. 53-13: crossed R. Bhalariya by 5 × 20′ girder bridge, curved at once to the left. 54-4 another left curve, crossing a river by 3 × 20′ girder bridge, the road on the left crossing it on a causeway, with a new bridge for it under construction 20 m away. 54-12: The road up at left, the railway moved to its middle, and crossed R. Shetrunji by an 8 × 40′ (50') bridge - the dry river bed a light grey. E. There were gates at either end of the rail-cum-road bridge to block road traffic when trains passed. And, for once, these were manned. A few vehicles were parked at either end as our train passed but not many buses. There were quite a few pedestrains and cyclists on the bridge - these could not obv iously stopped by the gatemen. Many of them were waving their hands exuberantly at those in the trains The road swerved away 60 metres to the left. 55-9/13, steady left curve towards the sharp hillock to the fore-left, joining the road again. Very open, bare undulations. Passed a large farm with a building to the right. 56-10: level-crossed (unmanned) a tarred road going into the NW.[4] 56-13: steady right curve, across an unsteady terrain with a scattering of thorn trees and some bare fields. 57-x(?): crossed R. Talaji by a 3 × 40′ girder rail-cum-road bridge, passing the hillock with Jain temples near the top [5] - the hill had a cave halfway up.

58-2. Talaja (42.67m), a 1226, d 1306 - a 40 minute stop. Watering station. A wide and long (200 m), but unpaved, low-level platform aligned NNE/SSW, at left, with shady banyan trees; outside the station were well spread-out houses on a slight rise, with the hillock with the Jain temples to their N. Three loops to the right, then a siding with a small goods shed, extending to a triangle, past which were undulating open spaces, with a low ridge 3km away, slightly green with some trees; and to slightly hind right, to the NW rose the Satrunjaya. An opposite number, also W-hauled, arrived 1255, to depart after we did. 58-11/12 continued to run SSW, in a cutting across a rocky mound; emerging, saw the low ridge to the right declining. The outskirts of the town were passed, with the road, for the first time, no longer in our immediate vicinity; it was possibly at some distance to the left (ESE). Then across levellish fields, mango trees in a shallow dip to the left. Corrugated und ulations ahead. 59-9: Terrain barer and fields fewer and thinner. 60-1/10 through a 6-10' cutting in weathered rock, the mound having shallow depressions on both sides. 60-10: open, bare fields on leveller terrain, parellel corrugations with another low ridge 3km to the right. 61-7 As the land dipped ahead, on 6-8' embankment, with open, bare, grey-brown topsoiled fields on both sides.

61-16 Pavthi (103.05 FT.), a 1318, d after 30 sec. Small, tin office on low platform at left; no loop or siding. Then leveller, open, bare fields on both sides, with occasional green crops. 63-5, crossed a 10' irrigation canal by a culvert; land dipping slightly ahead. 64-12 in a shallow trough cleared a low mound, then land dipped again ahead. More green crops, some huts. 65-7/12, steady left curve. 65-15 acacias on both sides 66-3 Phulsar (140. 05 FT.) a 1326, d 1328. Layout identical to Pavthi. Surrounded by thorn shrubs. 66-11 The road closed to within 50m to the left. 66-15/67-1 curved to the right, 67-1 crossed R. Navli by 5 × 20′ girder bridge; 67-4/9 steady left curve, clearing the patch of thorn shrubs and emerging on open terrain, to run SSE. 68-3 open wasteland on both sides, then thin fields; the road 60m to the left. 68-10 Gopnath Road (42.67m) a 1334, d 1338. Medium-sized, rock-walled and red-painted GI roofed office with waiting space separated by an exit, on a fairly long (160m) and wide (10m), but low, unpaved platform at left; no electricity, but lantern posts, fenced with barbed wire. A short, bare goods platform to the right, but the loop there had been pulled out. Hard times.6 Some open, grey fields to the right, greener to the left, but shrubland beyond to fore-right in a shallow dip with a cluster of tiled houses on a mound, 1km away. 68-15 Level-crossed, unmanned, a feeder road taking off from the main road on the left, which was veering away amidst shrubs. Then across a shallow dip on an rembankment with a culvert at 69-4. More open, bare, grey fields. 69-10/70-3: smooth, stready right curve, amidst shrubland up to 69-13; passed a cluster of houses on the left at 69-14, surrounded by open, bare fields. Shallow wide depression to the right with a low ridge rising at its rim 3km away, beyond which Satrunjay dominating though at a distance. Then across a low mound by a cutting, not very rocky, its walls rising from 6 to 20' in height, then declining; 71-4 Emerged from the cutting on overall-level terrain, with a low ridge 10km to fore-left. 71-6: Stopped 1345-54, the engine supplying water to villagers. Surrounded by shallow depressions with some open, bare fields, low ridges rising at their rims, 3km to the right (with Satrunjay beyond) and 10km to the fore-left. 72-2/12 across a mound in a cutting whose walls rose to 15' at 72-6, and the road crossing by overbridge into the right at 72-10. Shallow dip to the right (NW), with a lower hill to the S of Satrunjay.

73-9 Mangela (43.46m), a1359, d 1401. Medium-sized, tin waiting hall, but no enclosed office, on a short low level platform at left with a 15' high mound just outside. No loop or siding. 73-10: crossed R. Mangela by 3 × 20′ girder bridge. Thorn shrubs on its banks. 74-5: crossed R. Kharo, with thorn-shrubbed banks, by 3 × 20′ girder bridge. Past a dry tank to the left, levellish, open bare fields, land dipping gently to both the left and the right. 75-1 Grey topsoiled fields, bare and open. The summit of a lone rock protruded above the rim of the dip to the right. 76-0: across another thorny waste, a few bare fields. A small cluster of houses to the right nearly 2km away past a treeline. Low ridge rose above rim of dip to fore-right. 79-8: level-crossed (unmanned) a tarred road running into the right (NW). Having cleared the thorny waste, young crops on a few fields. A chain of low mounds closing into the fore-right. 80-9: Open, bare fields as the land dipped ahead. 80-12/14: smooth right curve; thorn shrubs amidst bare fields. 81-8/12: another steady right curve, hitting the chain of low mounds earlier seen to the fore-right (W). 81-12/82-1, through a rock cutting with 25' walls, on to undulating slopes with bare, thin fields to the left (SSW) and undulating, open waste to the right. 82-9, steady, quite sharp, left curve away from the rocky slopes of the mounds. 82-14: crossed R. Bagall by 6 × 40′ girder bridge on rock pillars, grey, grainy bed, rock-embedded and dry. 83-4/8: steady left curve.

84-0 Lilvan (53.8m), a 1428, d 1429. Just our track, ENE/WSW; a low-level platform at left with a tin office and shade-giving trees. Absolutely open, levellish fields with some groundnut crops, otherwise bare. A mound to the right. A shallow dip arcing ahead. 84-11/14, steady right curve; on 6-8' embankment overlooking undulating, open, bare fields to the left and chain of low mounds to the right. 85-7: across R. Kavalia by 4 × 20′ girder bridge, dry, thorny bed. 85-10/12: steady right curve - some peaks rising beyond the rim to the right. Open, bare fields, grey topsoil. 86-9: a patch of houses to the right. 86-14: the rim subsided, exposing to the right low hills over 15km away.

87-1 Longdi (62m) a 1438, 1441. Rock-walled, tin-roofed office-cum-waiting space on low level platform at right. Bare goods platform on left, but the loop pulled out. The distant ridge to the right (NNW) presented a steady scarp at that stage; a slightly reddish mound to the left. Open, bare, grey topsoiled fields around. 88-6: the tarred road closed in on the right, 88-11 level-crossed (unmanned) into fore-left. Then cut through a low mound, clearing which at 89-3, on leveller open terrain, bare fields with light brown-red soil. Chain of low mounds closing in on to fore-right; 89-12: thorn shrubs to the left beyond which thin fields. 90-6. Thorn shriubs on both sides with occasional clearings.

91-6 Otha Road (64.36m) a 1451, d 1453. Layout identical to Longdi, including the scrapped loop. No electricity here either. Passed a low mound at right, open, bare fields with brown-red soil, occasional grey topsoil. 92-11/93-1 Steady left curve across an undulating wasteland of thorn shrubs. Running into SW. 93-10: across a low mound covered with thorn shrubs. 93-15: the road was seen running parallel 800 metres away to the left (SE). 94-9 More thorny waste, occasional clearings, but bare. 94-12: some young crops on clearings as thorns receded in the fore-left towards a low rim. 96-0 some maize, but 96-8 thorny waste closed in on the left. 97-0/6: right curve to cross at 97-10 R. Bhadrodi, 5 × 40′ girder on rock pillars, grainy, light grey, dry bed. Then some level fields. 97-14/98-1: steady, smooth left curve, to resume running into SW. 98-2 unmanned level-crossing for an earth road. Open, bare fields with thorn shrubs intruding.

98-5 Bhadrod (49.07m) a 1507, d 1510. Again identical in lay-out to the previous two stations; loop scrapped. Some fields to the right (NW) past the bare goods platform, beyond which a wide, shallow dip, above the rim of which Satrunjaya, over 40km away, clearly visible in the bright sunshine through a gap in nearer chain of hills. Across more open, undulating, bare fields. A wide, shallow dip ahead, and to fore-left, beyond a palm belt, a lighthouse was just visible. 100-8 crossed R. Butia by 3 × 40′ girder bridge on concrete pilars, dry bed. Land dipped slightly ahed. Some large sand dunes made their appearance to the left (SE) past a depression - some coconut trees there. 101-6, crossed R. Sukva by 3 × 20′ girder, on rock pillars. 101-11/15, steady left curve, towards the coco-belt, 101-15, crossed R. Rupava, 2 × 40′ girders. Sea breeze hit us, though the sea itself was invisible. 102-7/8 right curve, across gently undulating, open, bare, brown topsoiled fields.

103-0. Talagajarda (44.07m) a 1519, d 1520. Oddly, the name of the station read Spanish to me. Low-level, unpaved platform with small shed for office at left; no loop or siding. Gently undulating, open, bare fields on all sides. 103-3, unmanned level-crossing of an earth road. Then slightly up, the coco belt 2km away to the left, closing in ahead. 103-14 Coconut groves on open, bare fields. 104-13 steady left curve amidst some thorn shrubs. Up on an ambankment, 105-8/10, crossed R. Malana by 9 × 40′ girder bridge. Steady left curve, passing an old, large water tank. Slightly rough, otherwise level, open, bare fields. 106-6. Some barracks-like houses to the right. Dense belt of coconut trees 400 metres to the left, but to the right level wasteland with some sheds. Held up briefly at the outer. Then an old, rock-walled, tiled houses to the right, 107-12, curved to the right to enter

108-2 Mahuva (40.69m) a 1534 in a bay on the NEn side of the only platform, with three NG lines ending before the block of offices. The long Sn. side of the platform served the main MG track, beyond which lay two long loops and a shorter one, a siding taking off from the second loop and proceeding S (to the port?)

Our stay at Mahuva was very brief. There was nothing much to see - it was a minor port which traded in onions; and had traditional wooden furniture and toy industry. Within 15 mins. we took an HPS-hauled MG passenger train to Dhasa.

The mixed train that we had first started on at Bhavnagar had run almost vacant till we left it at Trapaj, but the second one that we took at Budhel was quite full throughout. The RMC we travelled on briefly in between was also well-occupied. Since we did not see much road traffic, at least in 1975, the railway was fairly well patronized, but obviously it had been considered unviable, leading to its closure. Many of the metre gauge lines along the Saurashtra coast have, in the recent years, been converted into the broad. Perhaps a broad gauge line between Bhavnagar and Mahuva may be laid in the future, but on the original alignment of the erstwhile NG, it would infringe heavily on the existing road. And whether a new b.g. line will pay for itself considering the existence of the road, now probably with frequent buses running, is highly doubtful.


1 The All-India Rly. Timetable eff. Nov. 1975 reads differently: the first train, Bhavnagar Term., d 0410 would be a rail motor, to be followed by a steam-hauled mixed, d 0850. Whereas only one railcar ran in May at the time of our trip, the November timetable listed two, crossing each other. Perhaps, the second was undergoing repairs in May, and a revision of the time table ensued in November.

2 I did not know it then, but a road took off from Tanasa SE to the coast, to what was a minor port, 14km away. Now Alang is one of world's largest ship-breaking yards, very much in the news. Labourers hired by contractors, break up decommissioned ships of different nations to salvage valuable components and are exposed all sorts of toxic and carcinogenic wastes.

3 A map shows a road to Alang port, 10km to E. It perhaps took off from the main road when it had briefly crossed over to the left between 45-1 and 45-2. It was possibly to dispense with a level-crossing for the latter road that the railway line briefly moved across to its other side.

4 To Palitana, about 40km away.

5 besides Jain temples, Talaja has Buddhist caves; the Gujarathi saint, Narsinh Mehta, whose " Vaishnav Jana to …." was Mahatma Gandhi's favourite hymn, was born here.

6 Gopnath beach, 10km to the SE, with its limestone cliffs, had been the summer residence of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar.

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