Extracts from Murray's Handbook of the Madras Presidency

Extracts from "Murray's Handbook of Madras Presidency: With a Notice of the Overland Route to India", by E. B. Eastwick, 2nd edn., 1879

Made available by the Internet Archive.
Link: http://www.archive.org/details/handbookmadrasp00firgoog
Source: Library of the University of Michigan; digitized by Google Archive.

Selected and edited with comments by R Sivaramakrishnan, November, 2009.

Between 1879 and 1883, John Murray of London brought out the second editions of four handbooks on the Madras, the Bombay and the Bengal presidencies and on the provinces of North-western India, all of them authored by E. B. Eastwick. These were stupendous undertakings, recording the history, economy, religions, the people, their languages, social customs and manners, culture, administration and, most importantly for us, travel details through the presidency/provinces. Descriptions of the landmarks in the various cities and towns, as well as geographical details, intersperse the travel itineraries. These, therefore, constitute invaluable records of that age one hundred and thirty year ago.

The first editions had been brought out in the 1850s when the railways were in their infancy and most of the travels described were by road. The second editions of 1879-83 were published when the major railway lines had become operational and so are described in some detail. What is particularly interesting is that these handbooks contain somewhat detailed timetables of the trains on the various routes, the oldest such accessible. Not all the trains are listed, and those listed are given in one direction only, but the information is sufficient for one to get a broad understanding of the passenger traffic in that early age.

In this posting, I present extracts of the railway content from E. B. Eastwick, "Handbook of the Madras Presidency: With a Notice of the Overland Route to India", John Murray, London, 1879.

I have supplemented these extracts with notes and references to other sources of information.

Distances are usually listed in the Handbook in multiples of 1/4 mile but are rounded off here and shown before the names of the stations. The train timings, listed in the Handbook in h. and m. A. M. and P. M., are here given in standard time which came into vogue later.

Fares: 1st class, 8 pies per mile; 2nd class, 3 pies per mile; 3rd class, 2 pies per mile.

[12 pies = 4 paise = 1 anna; 16 annas = 1 rupee, equivalent to 1 sh. 7 1/2 d. in 1879 (p. 67)]

p. 158: "The South of India Company cannot guarantee the times printed in its timetables being kept under all circumstances, nor do they hold themselves responsible for delay....[1]"

p. 159: MADRAS TO PORTO NOVO (Metre Gauge) by South Indian Railway [2]

Names of stations are written in English and Tamil.

Madrasd 0730 d 1800
6 Saidaped 0749 d 1819
8 St. Thomas Mountd 0800 d 1830
12 Pallavaramd 0816 d 1855
19 Vandalurd 0847 d 1927
23 Guduvancherid 0904 d 1944
30 Singaperumal Kovild 0934 d 2015
35 Chingalputd 1010 a 2035
41 Kolatturd 1043-
50 Madurantagamd 1123-
59 Acharavakd 1200-
66 Olakkurd 1242-
76 Tindivanamd 1321-
81 Mailamd 1346-
91 Vikravandid 1432-
98 Villupuramd 1505-
111 Panrutti.d 1607-
119 Nellikuppamd 1643-
125 Gudalur New Townd 1717-
128 Gudalur Old Townd 1740-
136 Alapakkamd 1815-
145 Porto Novoa 1853-

"At 39 ch. S of Porto Novo the Penar is crossed by a bridge of 4 spans each of 150 ft...... Beyond this the Kolidun (Coleroon) r. is crossed by a bridge of 4 spans each of 150 ft. This bridge is 155 m. 52 ch. S of Madras"

[1] "In 1862 the Indian Tramway Company was formed for building short lines around Madras, with a 20-year subsidy. This suffered losses later, was reorganized to become the Carnatic Railway and finally was taken over by the South Indian Railway. In 1874, the Great Southern of India Railway Company (see above) and the Carnatic Railway Company were amalgamated to form the South Indian Railway Company. Railway construction continued unabated. A considerable number of additional lines were opened in the following decade, including the line between Cuddalore and Thanjavur via Chennai. In 1891, the South Indian Railway Company's contract expired and the state purchased all the lines."


[2] Poto Novo, a former Dutch colony on the estuary of R. Vellar; now known by the Tamil name Parangipettai, is more of historical importance though it houses a marine biology research station, and once had a blast furnace smelting iron ore brought from Kanja Malai near Salem.

Why did not the author take us by the train further down to Chidambaram, the famous town, the temples of which he describes in detail in pp. 210-213, situated just 9 miles S of Porto Novo?

In pp. 209/210 of the Handbook:

"Although Chedambaram is only 9 miles from Porto Novo, the journey is hardly practicable. No horses are procurable, the road is a bad one, not suited for wheeled traffic, and it is sometimes difficult to pass the Vellar R., as there is no bridge. Carts, however, are always procurable at the rate of 1 Re. 4 as. for the trip, and those who enjoy roughing it, may make the experiment. For those who prefer to travel comfortably, it will be best to go from Tanjur by the South Indian Rly., as follows [up to Anakarai Chattram]...."

Therefore, it is apparent that the "main line" of SIR from Madras via Villupuram and Mayavaram, was not constructed continuously up to Tanjore (Thanjavur) on the Tiruchirapalli - Nagapattinam line; as of 1879, the line terminated at Porto Novo, there being a 11-mile hiatus in the line between Porto Novo, N. of R. Vellar and Anaikarai Chattram, just S. of R. Coleroon, as these two rivers took time to bridge. But a 1882 railway map, accessible at


shows the main line to be continuous from Madras to Tanjore. So, sometime after the publication of the Handbook in 1879, the gap was closed. It should have been in anticipation of the imminent completion of the main line that the details about the two bridges were included in the Remarks column of the above timetable; but the remarks contain errors: (i) the river crossed D. of Porto Novo is Vellar and not "Penar" [Pennar] which had already been crossed before entering Cuddalore; (ii) R. Kolidun is much wider and a 4 x 150 ft. bridge would not suffice.

It is interesting that the very same two rivers are now responsible for the delay in the gauge conversion of the Villupuram - Mayavaram (Mayiladuthurai) section of the line.

See the postings in the IR Southern Zone Discussion Fourm:



Timings of only one train is given.

Arkonam Jn.d 1715
9 Palurd 1755
11 Chengal Rai Naik's Chaultryd 1815
19 Kanchiverama 1845

"The narrow gauge line from Arconum to Kanchiveram was made by Lea Hair...... The Embankment from Kanchiveram to Chengalpat is made , and the line is to be constructed. Very few Europeans go to Kanchiveram, and when they go they generally take a special train.

[3] Originally built by Indian Tramways Co. in 1866 on 3' 6" gauge.

p. 187. YIROD to TIRUCHINAPALLI (MG) (SIR) [4] [5]

No detailed timings given.

"Train [singular, therefore, one train daily] leaves Yirod [on the SW line of the Madras Railway] at 1805 and arrives at Tiruchinapalli Junction at 2228."

There were 10 stations in between:

.. Yirod Jn., 13 Panasur, 22 Anjalur, 25 Kudumudi, 32 Pugazhur, 40 Karur, 51 Katate, 59 Lalapeta, 65 Kalitale, 79 Kilamasamur, 87 Tiruchinapalli Fort, 90 Tiruchinapalli Jn.

[4] "The Great Southern of India Railway Company was incorporated in Britain in 1858. The company received a guarantee from the Secretary of State for India for a 5% return on 500,000 which was to be used to construct a railway line from Nagapattinam (formerly Negapatam) to Tiruchirapalli (formerly Trichinopoly), along with several branch lines. The company's guarantee was given amidst political controversy. Lord Stanley took over from Sir Charles Wood as Secretary of State for India, whereupon he reversed his predecessor's policy, and starting granting guarantees to the smaller branch line railway companies. The Great Southern of India Railway Company was one of the first companies to benefit. Construction began on the line shortly after the company's incorporation, and by 1860, the Nagapattinam to Tiruchirapalli line was nearing completion."


[5] Incepted as the Great Southern of India Railway, on broad gauge, this line from Negapatam westward to Trichinopoly Fort was opened in 1862, extended to Karur in 1866 and up to Erode in 1868 to meet the SW mainlined of Madras Railway. In Dec. 1873 the GSIR was amalgamated with the Carnatic Railway Company which was engaged in making the line from Tanjore to Madras, and renamed the South Indian Railway with hqrs. at Trichinopoly. In 1875 the metre-gauge line from Trichinopoly to Madura was opened and in that year the section of the older line from Negapatam to Trichinopoly was also converted to the metre gauge. The Trichinopoly - Erode section of this line was converted to the same gauge in 1879:



Trichinapalli Jn.d 0655d 1315
6 Tiruverumburd 0715d 1332
20 Budalurd 0807d 1419
31 Tanjur Jna 0840a 1455


Tanjur Jn.d 0915d 1510
9 Saliyamangalamd 0954d 1541
13 Ammapetad 1009d 1554
19 Nidamangalamd 1052d 1618
24 Koradacherid 1118d 1637
30 Kulikarid 1142d 1650
34 Triwalurd 1220d 1710
41 Kivalurd 1245d 1740
45 Sikild 1300d 1754
48 Nagapatnama 1312a 1805


Tanjur Jn.d 0930d 1515
6 Thittaid 0950d 1541
11 Aiyampetd 1015d 1602
15 Papasinashamd 1030d 1620
19 Sundaraperumalkovild 1056d 1644
24 Kumbhakonamd 1130d 1715
29 Tiruvadumarudhurd 1150d 1744
34 Narasingenpetd 1215d 1809
38 Kuttalamd 1237d 1830
43 Mayavaramd 1307d 1905
52 Vaidhishveram Kovild 1355d 1944
55 Shiyalid 1405d 2000
61 Anaikarai Chattrama 1432a 2024

pp. 212-213: "The morning train from Anakarai Chattram leaves at 4 A.M. and reaches Mayavaram at 5:28 and Kumbakonam at 7:15. The 9:20 A.M. train [from Anakarai Chattram] arrives at Mayavaram at 10:48 and reaches Kumbakonam at 12:30." It appears that there were just these two passenger services each way on this route in 1879.

[6] As mentioned in [1], R. Coleroon, just north of Anakarai Chattram (now known as Kollidam) and R. Vellar, just south of Porto Novo (Parangipattai) were bridged sometime after 1879. Right in the middle of this gap of 11 miles lay the temple city of Chidambaram. Till this gap was filled, enabling through train service to be operated between Trichinopoly/Tanjore and Madras, officials from the SIR hq. in Trichinopoly, wanting to travel through to Madras, would have to proceed to Erode whence take a Madras Railway train.


Trichinapalli Jn. d 1135
12 Kolattur d 1213
23 Manarparai d 1252
31 Vaiyampatti d 1329
42 Aiyalur d 1414
48 Vadamadurai d 1438
58 Dindigal d 1545
72 Ammaiyanayakkanur d 1643
83 Sholavandan d 1735
89 Samianallur d 1800
96 Madura a 1830

[7] There must have been more trains on this important route, though only one is listed in the Handbook. Ammayanayakkanur station, the gateway to the salubrious Kodaikanal in the Palni Hills, was later renamed Kodaikanal Road.


Madura d 0605
4 Tirupparangundram d 0637
11 Tirumangalam d 0708
20 Kallikudi d 0747
27 Virudupatti d 0821
38 Tulukkapatti d 0907
44 Sattur d 0936
57 Kovilpatti d 1033
64 Kumarapuram d 1102
71 Kadambur d 1132
81 Maniyachi Jn. a 1212, d 1240
91 Tinnevelli a 1400

[8] Again only one train listed on this route which should have had considerable traffic.


Maniyachi Jn. a 1212, d 1300
23 Tutikorin a 1340

"Small schooners sail twice or thrice a week from Tutikorin to Ceylon...."

[9] This branch was opened in 1876. This train is from Madura, apparently bifurcated at Maniyachi Jn. A regular steamship service was established between Tuticorin and Colombo in 1898 and was used to transport of indentured labourers from to work in the tea estates of Ceylon

pp. 171/276/311. MADRAS - POTHANUR - KOIMBATUR / BEYPUR (B. G.) by the Madras Railway [10]

MADRAS d 1800 d 0700--
6 Perambur d 1815 d 0715--
13 Avadi d 1833 d 0742--
16 Tinnanur - d 0755--
26 Trivelur d 1910 d 0818--
30 Kadambatur - d 0828--
36 Chinampet - d 0845--
43 Arkonam Jn. a 1950 a 0905--
  d 2015 d 0925--
55 Sholingarh - d 1002--
65 Arcot d 2108 d 1029--
73 Tiruvelam - d 1052--
81 Velur a 2144 a 1113--
  d 2154 d 1123--
89 Virinjipuram - d 1143--
96 Guriattam d 2229 d 1210--
106 Melpatti - d 1234--
113 Ambur - d 1255--
124 Vaniambadi - d 1324--
132 Jolarpet a 0000 a 1350--
 d 0020 d 1410--
136 Tirupattur d 0033 d 1425--
152 Somalpatti - d 1514--
166 Morapur d 0147 d 1604--
188 Mallapatnam d 0215 d 1700--
192 Shivarai Hills d 0245 d 1740--
207 Salem a 0320 a 1830--
 d 0340 d 1845--
220 McDonald's Chaultrid 0440 d 1928--
231 Shankari Durg - d 2010--
243 Yirod Jn. a 0510 a 2050-
 d 0525 -d 1410 d 1716
252 Perundurai d 0555 -d 1455 d 1743
267 Watkali d 0630 -d 1550 d 1821
275 Tirupur d 0656 -d 1650 d 1841
280 Mangalam - - - -
286 Somanur d 0725 -d 1727 d 1910
292 Sulur - - - -
287 Shinganallur - - - -
302 Pothanur Jn. a 0805 -a ? a ?
 d 0825 d 0945 d 1815 d 1950
306 Koimbatur - - a 1840 a 2020
308 Maddikare - d 1007--
317 Waliar - d 1041--
324 Kanjikod d 0944 d 1114--
332 Palghat a 1004 a 1153--
 d 1014 d 1200--
338 Parle - d 1219--
347 Lakadi - d 1253--
352 Wutapalliam d 1059 d 1315--
359 Shoranur d 1124 d 1346--
366 Pattambi d 1156 d 1415--
378 Kutipuram - d 1454--
387 Tirur d 1243 d 1545--
392 Tanur - d 1605--
397 Perpengadid 1310 d 1625--
406 Bepur a 1330 a 1650--

Fares: up to Yirod: First class, Rs. 23-0; Second class, Rs. 9-0; Third class, Rs. 3-13

From Madras up to Bepur: First class, Rs. 38; Second class, Rs. 15.

p. 171: "There is also a third class train that leaves Madras at 0815, but stops at Jolarpet where it arrives at 0740 [1930?] and also a 1st, 2nd and 3rd class train which leaves Madras at 1330 and stops at Velur arriving there at 1910, but no European would go by either of these trains."

[10] Beypore, on the estuary of R. Chaliyar, 6 miles S of Calicut (Kozhikode) has the superior roadstead. The river was bridged only in 1890 for the railway to reach Calicut The train which left Madras at 1800 was the forerunner to #1 Madras-Mangalore Mail. That train too did not touch Coimbatore.

"65 Arcot": Arcot is actually 9 miles away to the SW past R. Palar; this railway station was later renamed Wallajah Road Jn. with a branch to Ranipet on the nearer bank of Palar.

Similarly, "81 Velur": Vellore Town and Cantt. too are 6 miles to the S, past R. Palar; this station was later rechristened Katpadi,

"192 Shivarai Hills": The fast train stopped at the dead of the night, presumably for Europeans to access the 4,000+ feet high hills which lay just to the E. The location of this station corresponds to present Danishpet, which is right at the foot of the Shevroy Hills, as seen from the AMS topographic map,


with a road which climbs almost straight up ESE to Nagalur in the hills. Danishpet is not marked in the AMS map. Salem, the railhead for Yercaud in the Shevroy Hills, is to the SSW.

The British who came to administer India found the heat of the summer in the plains torrid and one of the first ventures of an administrator, on taking over control of a new slice of territory, would be to go on an expedition up the hills therein and find a location, at least 4,000 ft. above the mean sea level, with a salubrious climate, from where they could operate during the summer. Almost every hill-station in the sub-continent thus owes its founding to a Company administrator. The British also raised coffee or tea in the hills and founded residential schools where their children could study in cooler, placid surroundings. British troops, after a tiring stint of duty in the hot plains, were sent up to recuperate in sanatoria located in some such hill-stations. Coffee was introduced from Africa into Yercaud (4,800 ft) in 1820 by the then collector, Mr. Cockburn. The famous schools of Yercaud came up much after the Handbook was written.


The Handbook (p. 184-185) is all praise for the Wutz [Wootz] steel manufactured by native smelters in Salem district using an antique but ingenious process from locally available iron ore and charcoal produced from the wood of selected species of trees.


Koimbatur d 0820
8 Tudialur -
11 Gudalur -
17 Karandi -
22 Metapalliam a 0930

"At Metapalliam, the station is exposed to the pitiless heat of the sun without the shelter of a single tree. It is however provided with a pankhah, as are most of the stations in D. India."

[11] Again only one train is listed in the Handbook and there must have been another which stopped at the intermediate stations. It would be a 14 mile climb by carriage and then by pony to Coonoor in the Nilgiris. Though the Nilgiri Hills were "discovered" by the British in the 1810's, it was Mr. Sullivan, the Collector of Koimbatur in the late 1860's who realized its worth as a sanatorium even as the Hills were carved into a separate district (p. 181).

p. 233: JOLARPET - BENGALUR (BG) [12]

Jolarpet Jn. d 0050 d 1410
22 Kuppam d 0230 d 1540
43 Kolar Road d 0340 d 1641
60 Mallur d 0447 d 1734
72 Kadgudi d 0527 d 1810
84 Bengalur a 0615 a 1845

[12] Obviously the fast train arriving from Madras at midnight was bifurcated at Jolarpet, one part being sent to Bangalore, the forerunner of the present Madras - Bangalore Mail.


Madras d 0600
3 Perambur d 0610
13 Avadi d 0633
18 Tinnanur -
26 Trivellore d 0705
29 Kudambatur -
36 Chinamapet d -
48 Arkonam d 0800
50 Tiruttani d 0821
59 Naggari d -
69 Putur d 0911
78 Pudi -
83 Tirupati (Tripetty) d 1030
100 Kudur d 1145
111 Reddipalli d 1219
129 Rajampeta d 1240
136 Nandalur d 1310
147 Wontimetta -
161 Kadapa (Cuddapah) d 1425
176 Kamalapur d 1505
185 Yerraguntla d 1530
195 Mudanur. d 1555
215 Kondipuram d 1645
227 Tadpatri d 1732
241 Rayalcheru d 1815
257 Gutti d 1845
273 Gundakal Jn, d 1935

p. 342: "The names of the stations along this route are all written in English and not in any Indian character."

"Before reaching Tadpatri pass [Pinakini] river by low bridge without parapet. Height from bed of river 50 ft."

[13] It is unfortunate that the Handbook does not mention the name of this train nor its destination. It is obviously an express as it does not stop at some of the stations. This cannot be the same train which leaves Guntakal at 0750, that is, 12 hours later, for Gulbergah (Bombay?). The latter should have been the Madras - Bombay Mail (or its forerunner) which should have left Madras around 1800 hours.

It may be noted that Renigunta was initially named Tirupati as it served the temple, "one of the most celebrated in South India" [p. 342], but that required proceeding 6 miles by road to Lower Tiupati and then 8 miles up across hill ranges to reach the temple.

p. 346: GUNDAKAL JN. - BELLARI by Madras Railway [14]

Gundakal Jn. d 0810 d 1715
18 Viripur d 0904 d 1815
32 Ballaria 0945 a 1900

[14] The gauge of this branch is not mentioned but is known to have been initially built on the broad, to be turned to metre when the Goa - Hubli- Guntakal - Guntur - Vijayawada line was laid. Of course, every line is broad over there now. The abundance of iron and copper ores around Bellary is mentioned. The Handbook recommends a trip to Bejanagar ruins (Vijayanagar/Hampi near Hospet) by a rather bad road (34 miles) employing a relay of bullock, but that would require nine days from Guntakal and back. An extra three for visiting from Bellary the hill-station of Ramandurg in the native state of Sandur.

The Handbook does not fail to mention the occurrence of copper and iron ores, the latter in large quantities, around Ballari [p. 347], now being mined on a large scale, both legally and illegally, much being exported.


Gundakal Jn. d 0750
8 Nancherla d 0812
21 Auspri d 0851
34 Adoni d 0934
51 Kosgi d 1021
60 Tungabadra d 1045
66 Matmarri d 1101
77 Raichur a 1130
 d 1210
87 Chikalgur d 1242
93 Krishna d 1307
105 Saidpur d 1345
119 Yadgir d 1427
134 Nalwar d 1511
143 Wadi Jn. d 1533
150 Shahabad a 1551
 d 1601
166 Kalbergah (Gulbergah) a 1443

"At Adoni are refreshment rooms."

"[60: Tungabadra] The river here is 700 yds. broad"

"143: Wadi Jn. Here is the junction with the Haidarabad line and the Nizam's State Railway begins"

[15] 60 m. Tungabadra station has been renamed as Mantralaya Road station, serving the final resting place of the Hindu saint of the madhva sect, Sree Raghavendra (1595-1671), about 10 miles to the E along the river.

The Nizam's territory was entered after crossing R. Tungabadra; Raichur, Yadgir, Wadi, Shahabad and Gulberga lay in his domains. The map from the Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909 edition , can be accessed at


The Handbook makes no mention of the crossing of R. Krishna at the mile 93.

Kalbergah's monuments are described in vivid detail (pp. 358 - 361).


Kalbergah (Gulbergah) d 0813
16 Shahabad a 0854
 d 1000
23 Wadi Jn. d 1025
32 Chitapur d 1100
46 Siram d 1148
56 Illahpur d 1225
66 Tandur d 1258
80 Darur d 1346
93 Illampalli d 1447
110 Rattapur d 1554
123 Lingampalli d 1644
138 Haidarabad a 1735

[16] The Nizam's territory gets a handsome treatment in the Handbook, but there is not more on his railways, which were yet to materialize beyond Haidarabad. There are details of the journey from Haidarabad to Bidar by Palki (palanquin) - 78 miles; Bidar to Aurangabad - 233 miles by palki or on horseback; Aurangabad - Dalutabad - Rozah - 14 miles on horseback for Elura caves. The Buddhist murals in these caves, as well as those at Ajanta, all lying in the Nizam's domains, are described in detail. Ajanta could also be accessed from Pachora station on the G. I. P. Railway by a cart on a 30 mile track which would require 15 hours.

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2008.
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