Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Trippingg on the Trains – Konkan Railways and the Marvellous & Mystical Monsoons

In the monsoons, the Konkan Railways track meanders over gushing rivers and gurgling streams; flits in and and out of drenched tunnels, wraps itself around hills covered in misty clouds, loses itself in thick dewy forests to the accompaniment of cascading waterfalls, soars over soaked green paddy fields, and passes through little railway stations with no waiting passengers. Konkan Railways in monsoons is the stuff of dreamy mystical rail journeys that you always knew would find you eventually. To experience heaven on earth, the Madgaon to Mangalore Konkan railway route is a must on every train lover’s itinerary. 


Konkan Railways in the Monsoons- A Magical Journey

You have been wishing to travel the Konkan railway in the monsoons for so long and when it happens, the experience is so extraordinary that within days you are taking the train back for one more sortie across the Western Ghats. A reprise is natural.


Such unbelievable sights will keep you spellbound in Konkan

Here in Western Ghats, the train is the audience as it floats above the stage made of rivers, fields and forests where the monsoons provide their annual breathtaking performance. The spectacular performance is not only visual. It is an all-sensory delectable treat. The eyes are treated to the colours of ever changing landscape, skies and waters. The raindrops dance just beyond the windows and the water streaks create moving patterns on the glasspanes. You stand at the doorways and reach out to feel the rain on your hand and face. The smells have their own effect - the dampness in air just before it rains, the smell of rain and the smell of refreshed air after the rain - and are so distinct. The entire performance builds into an orgasmic delight.

The post is a photo journey of the astonishing route that takes you from Madgaon in Goa to Mangalore at the deep south-western tip of Karnataka and covers the 440 km journey of unadulterated interplay of railways, monsoons and the Western Ghats that has to be experienced to be believed.

The photo journey combines the two journeys on Konkan Railways. First was aboard the 56641 Madgaon Mangalore Central Passenger train. Here you had travelled from Madgaon to Udupi and then took the bus to Mangalore. And the second was the 22636 Madgaon Express from Mangalore Central to Madgaon.

Hop on and enjoy the Journey!

Goa has two major railway stations - Madgaon & Vasco. Madgaon station retains its old world charm even after all these years when you would visit Goa from Mumbai in late 1990s

Goa's own Mario adorns the Benjoe Restaurant with his characters - the food is pretty good and you pick your packed lunch here

Konkan Railways invites you to discover the Western Ghats - Madgaon Station

You have booked yourself in a second class bogie. It is surprising that a passenger train actually has a reserved coach! Except for a few other fellow backpackers the bogie is empty. The rest of the train seems to have few passengers. This is what you like about the trains down south. It is as if you have the entire train to yourself.

You have the bogie to yourself

Here we go - Balli the first station - now try comparing this station to one in UP!

Within minutes the train picks up pace and you seem to be floating among misty hills

Canacona Railway Station


One instance you are among hills, the next, above rivers flowing into the Arabian Sea - Konkan Railways brings surprises every minute

Lolieum is the last station in Goa before the train enters Karnataka

Leaving Goa!

Konkan Railway with hundreds of tunnels cutting through the Western Ghats and bridges spanning streams and rivers is an engineering marvel. For the first time Goa and Mangalore were connected directly.

Here the train emerges out of yet another tunnel as it leaves Goa to enter Karnataka.

Kali River before Karwar




Incredible Vistas aboard Konkan Railways

The stretch as the train travels from Asnoti towards Karwar is the most scenic. It seems the train floats over the sea with water stretching on both sides.

Karwar is a major Naval base on the western coast. You had planned to get down here but changed the plan. Now you will get down in Udupi









The train sways in the breeze. The sultry heat of Madgaon has melted away. The bogie feels pleasant. Assorted smells tickle the nose - the freshness of forests, the salty sea and the fried food carried by the vendors. You want to close your eyes and just lose yourself in this incredible landscape. But nap is not a choice. The picture frames keep coming and you need to collect them for an entire life's worth.

Stations keep coming and we are again on our way - Ankola Station



You remember last year when you drove to Gokarna from Hubli to enjoy a sunblessed day on the beautiful beaches


The rear bogies provide the best views especially on bends when you can see the entire worm like train





Hi Kid! We are going a-travelling. To find a stretch of ocean, a field, hillside or clouds and trees and maybe some lichens. Just a simple way to remember how to see and how to breathe.

There are two categories of rail passengers who enjoy the journeys - there are these few itinerant ones like yours truly and then there are these kids looking at the world wide eyed through the windows. You see these kids everywhere; in Delhi's Metro or here in Konkan. The kids with their unending fascination for new sights teach us adults how to stay alive every moment no matter how humdrum our daily lives or commutes become.


One thing that is constant in your travels is the motion

I dig you baby but I got to keep movin'...on - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

All through the Konkan travels your camera has been sporadically acting up. But sometimes even the unintentional blurred images tell their own story.  Another learning - even not so perfect moments of our lives have their own beauty; we just need to know where to look.



The rains are always around. The train runs into a patch of moisture laden low dark clouds. Windows are pulled down as streaks run on the glass. Few minutes later, last few rain drops hug the window bars. Konkan magic at its best. And so it goes on. 

RO RO Service of Konkan Railways at Madgaon


RO RO Service of Konkan Railways at Bhatkal Station

So far you have seen trains loaded with tractors or army trucks and tanks. But here on the western coast right from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to Mangalore you are seeing these trains loaded with commercial trucks. Apparently the loaded trucks are loaded on the train at Kolad near Mumbai to be hauled upto Mangalore and back. This Konkan section is the only route where commercial trucks ride piggy back on trains. This is called RO-RO or Roll-on Roll-off service. The loaded trucks drive up from one end even as the crew sits in their individual trucks. The ticket ranges from Rs 15000 to Rs 25000 depending on the truck size. You are sure this is a far better way ecologically than having hundreds of trucks belching smoke in the the fragile environment of Western Ghats.

Kumta Station


Green Paddy Fields interspersed with hills and rivers and forests

Honnavar Railway Station on Konkan Railways


A tanker train coming in

You are green to go

The giant Shiv idol and the temple gopurum can be seen towering over the sea - Murudeshwar
Bhatkal - we are halfway to Mangalore!

Dog Day Afternoon in Bhatkal



Entire route is punctuated with rivers flowing into the Arabian Sea



Kundapura Station

Udupi where you have a wonderful time in the old town, Karkala and Kodi Bengare

Kids don't try this without expert supervision!

Selfie at Padubidri Station on Konkan Railways

Surathkal Station

The 22636 Madgaon Express at Mangalore Central station

Konkan Railways - The Reprise

The pink Mangalore Railway Station on an early rainy morning

The remarkable journey finishes at Udupi and then again begins at Mangalore. The train and Konkan beauty beckon and in a couple of days you again take to the clouds and the hills and the sea and the rain. The Konkan Railway is the ride in the amusement park that you would keep wanting to get on.

Coming from Delhi where it seems the only seasons left are the scorching summers stretching from March to October and couple of months of frigid winters; the bountiful monsoons, verdant vistas and almost four hundred kms of nature paradise of Konkan is truly heavenly. Konkan is the perfect antidote to the seared soul.


Train Timetables

Train Number
Train Name
From Station
Destination Station
Runs From Source On
56641
MAO MAQ PASS
MADGAON
MANGALORE CNTL
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN

SNo
Station Code
Station Name
Route Number
Arrival Time
Departure Time
Halt Time(In minutes)
Distance
Day
1
MAO
MADGAON
1
--
13:00
--
0
1
2
BLLI
BALLI
1
13:17
13:18
01:00
23
1
3
CNO
CANCONA
1
13:51
13:52
01:00
46
1
4
LOL
LOLIEM
1
14:11
14:12
01:00
60
1
5
AT
ASNOTI
1
14:29
14:30
01:00
72
1
6
KAWR
KARWAR
1
14:57
14:58
01:00
82
1
7
HAA
HARWADA
1
15:11
15:12
01:00
102
1
8
ANKL
ANKOLA
1
15:24
15:25
01:00
122
1
9
GOK
GOKARNA ROAD
1
15:35
15:37
02:00
133
1
10
KT
KUMTA
1
15:50
15:51
01:00
159
1
11
HNA
HONNAVAR
1
16:10
16:11
01:00
179
1
12
MANK
MANKI
1
16:27
16:28
01:00
204
1
13
MRDW
MURDESHWAR
1
16:37
16:38
01:00
216
1
14
CTTP
CHITRAPUR (H)
1
16:45
16:46
01:00
227
1
15
BTJL
BHATKAL
1
17:00
17:01
01:00
236
1
16
SHMI
SHIROOR
1
17:10
17:12
02:00
247
1
17
BYNR
MOOKAMBIKA ROAD
1
17:23
17:24
01:00
258
1
18
BIJR
BIJOOR
1
17:35
17:36
01:00
266
1
19
SEN
SENAPURA
1
17:53
17:55
02:00
286
1
20
KUDA
KUNDAPURA
1
18:10
18:11
01:00
305
1
21
BKJ
BARKUR
1
18:23
18:24
01:00
327
1
22
UD
UDUPI
1
18:40
18:41
01:00
350
1
23
INJ
INNANJE
1
18:51
18:52
01:00
363
1
24
PDD
PADUBIDRI
1
19:01
19:02
01:00
373
1
25
NAND
NANDIKOOR
1
19:11
19:12
01:00
385
1
26
MULK
MULKI
1
19:21
19:22
01:00
396
1
27
SL
SURATHKAL
1
19:31
19:32
01:00
408
1
28
TOK
THOKUR
1
19:54
19:55
01:00
415
1
29
MAJN
MANGALORE JN
1
20:24
20:25
01:00
431
1
30
MAQ
MANGALORE CNTL
1
20:55
--
--
437
1



Train Number
Train Name
From Station
Destination Station
Runs From Source On
22636
MADGAON EXP
MANGALORE CNTL
MADGAON
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN

SNo
Station Code
Station Name
Route Number
Arrival Time
Departure Time
Halt Time(In minutes)
Distance
Day
1
MAQ
MANGALORE CNTL
1
--
08:15
--
0
1
2
SL
SURATHKAL
1
09:06
09:07
01:00
29
1
3
UD
UDUPI
1
09:53
09:54
01:00
87
1
4
KUDA
KUNDAPURA
1
10:17
10:18
01:00
132
1
5
BYNR
MOOKAMBIKA ROAD
1
10:45
10:46
01:00
179
1
6
BTJL
BHATKAL
1
11:07
11:08
01:00
201
1
7
KT
KUMTA
1
12:07
12:08
01:00
278
1
8
KAWR
KARWAR
1
12:51
12:52
01:00
355
1
9
CNO
CANCONA
1
13:15
13:16
01:00
391
1
10
MAO
MADGAON
1
14:00
--
--
437
1


Travel Tips
The scenic Konkan route can be extended from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to Madgaon and then to Mangalore.

The trains travel practically empty during the monsoon months so you can travel general class buying tickets from the stations and getting down wherever and catching the train again the next day. 

References
The blog by the indomitable & itinerant Neeraj Jat started it all:

3 comments:

  1. Boogeing in Indian bogies ....never thought was a groovy move but boy are you keepin the railways alive or are you Stayin Alive....beacause of these journeys?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aparna,

      Hahaha - yes the boogeing in the railway bogies is keeping my alive at the moment. Its time you ditched the boogeing in plane aisles and tried some bogie boogeing yourself!

      Delete
  2. Boogeing in Indian bogies ....never thought was a groovy move but boy are you keepin the railways alive or are you Stayin Alive....beacause of these journeys?

    ReplyDelete