Tamil Nadu MG Trip Report
by Karthik M.V.
This has been pending for long!
May 2003 , I went on a two day pilgrimage from bangalore to Palani ( Karthikeyan temple ) & Madurai .
It all started with my father suggesting that we should go on a pilgrimage down south for some thanks giving. He told me we should go by bus , but I blackmailed that we should go by train only ,otherwise I wo'nt come! He agreed & let me do the entire planning. The route was SBC-Coimbatore-Pollachi-Palani-Madurai-Bangalore
The SBC-PLN train route is longer by about 100kms , but it is more comfortable & relaxed as you avoid a 10hrs rickety bus journey.
So here is the trip report (quite long!),
We caught a taxi & reached BNC by 6:15am. The stn plfrm was packed to capacity as over 1000 people were waiting for the MAS bound Lalbagh exp & CBE bound 2677 intercity. At 6:30am our train 2677 arrived behind an ED WDM2. We got into our EX 1 coach (15th). Rake length was 17! I have heard that 2677 occupancy was poor but on this day it was the opposite. By the time we left Hosur, even the doorways got blocked & the TTE was helpless.
SBC-Salem route has plenty of sharp curves & with speeds rarely crossing 80kmph (a plethora of speed limits!), the scenery combined with train is a real treat for railfan. Also fortunately, the weather was cloudy despite being peak summer. So, I really enjoyed it. Meanwhile the Pantry kept my stomach happy :-)
At sivadi our train stopped for crossing with 1014. Always late running & due to it lost abt 15 mins here. After the formalities, our train headed for the ghat section with a long application of the melodious D2 horn. No tunnels here, but plenty of sharp curves & down gradient. Two brake testing halts included! At this section we are actually coming down from the deccan plateau & heading towards the plains of TN. The speed is hardly 50kmph. Speed improves to 100kmph after salem. I was armed with SBC WTT. From which I was explaining all the happenings to my dad!!
Before Erode we passed through a station called Cauvery. Just after, we passed over river cauvery & some really nice green fields along its banks. As we entered ED, I spotted the electric loco shed, WAP4s galore!
At Erode, 50% of the crowd got down. By now we were 30mins late. (for no major reasons at all!). Erode being "Clean Train Station" 15mins rake cleaning was done here.
We finally reached CBE one hour late . Our rake immediately leaves to MAS as Kovai exp. All the name plates were appropriately changed with dedication! & the train left within 15mins!
I went to the tkt counter & purchased tkts for CBE-Palani. This was a CBE-MDU passr train, 8 coach MG,dep 3PM. We had a quick lunch a boarded a general coach, thankfully a few seats were vacant. At sharp 3pm the golden rock YDM4 blew its unique horn & we were on our way. I was on MG after some 10 years! The sound was so mesmerising & so much different from BG. The YDM4 went "burr-burr-burr…", & the pleasant swaying started.
CBE-podanur, right side is MG & left is BG (single lines). I must say that the podanur bypass is a very busy one. In a span of about 20 mins I spotted 2 goods trains & one exp coming from kerala! We were so tiny in front of them.
Podanur - Pollachi is kind of a 'defunct' line!! There is grass all over. Some places even sleeper cannot be seen! Anyway with speed of around 60kmph we trundled through a wildlife sanctuary (no animals seen!). Around 4:15pm we reached POL. Nice, small & green town.
Here we waited for our other half! From Palghat one 8 coach passr gets coupled to our train & goes upto MDU. The train arrived within some 10 mins. Our train was then reversed & switched tracks & coupled to the other train. Job done by our loco! The whole process takes some massive 45 mins!! Meanwhile a TTE arrived & checked all our tkts.
At around 5pm, our 16coach train left POL hauled by the PGT's YDM4. Speeds are quite slow hardly 60. From here the scenery is exquisite right through. The train actually goes along the flat foot hills of the East-cum-western ghats combo. Onto the right at about 10kms away is this long chain of huge mountains. Really beautiful. Greenery every where. As we headed towards PLN, speed picked upto 75kmph. The power of YDM4 was in full display,amidst some light drizzle! coach was like a large cradle! Swaying in all directions!
We reached PLN around 7:30PM. The holy hill is visible from train itself. We immediately took an auto & went to our guest house. We had some contacts with a priest over there & all arrangements were done & ready! We had a nice comfy room with AC,etc…
We then visited the hill top temple. To reach the top one has to climb up the 600 steps or take the Cable-cum-Rail car!! This is a small track abt 40cms width. Laid at an approx angle of 45 to 60 deg along the hill surface. A giant motor at the top of the hill pulls the two-coupled-cars up, using a steel cable. Journey is about 10mins at a speed of few cms/sec.
Each 'train' has a capacity of 30 & like this there are 3 of 'em going up & down from 4am to 11pm. The ride is somewhat similar to roller coaster up the ramp! But god save you if the thin cable cuts!! No alternative safety mechanisms, only a torturous plunge awaits you! To be honest, personally it was quite scary the first time. The seating position is not 'funicular', it is similar to a space launch vehicle!!
Anyway we had a great darshan & returned to our room by 11pm.
We again did a quick early morning darshan & visited one temple below. After a quick breakfast we reached PLN stn by 10:15AM. Around 11:40AM our CBE-MDU-RMM fast passr arrived. Late arrivals are common on this route due to single line, token,etc.
We left at 11:45am. Yesterday's scenery continued…! Now since there was bright sunlight, those kodaikanal hills appeared in full splendor. I stood near the door right through. The speed was also amazing. Since, driver was trying to make up time, he was going at MPS 75kmph. We passed over many culverts & the sound was superb! We blasted through many tiny stations, sad that no one was there to see us! Halted at oddan-chatram stn (famous for butter). Also halted at Dindugul for 10 mins. From here BG & MG run parallel upto MDU. Our high speed run continued, the shaking was at times quite wild & at the back of mind I was quite worried. At one point I calculated a speed of 77kmph!! Synonymous with our train no.777 super fast!! DG-MDU is a down gradient & our pal was making full use of it! Every stn we passed through we were making up time & all clear every where.
I must say that MDU-DG BG line is mega traffic jam! I spotted 3 passr trains & 1 goods train all heading towards DG in a span of 1hr!
To my pleasant surprise we were bang on time at MDU, reached at 2PM. So 120kms in approx. 2hrs, with an avg speed of 60kmph!! Fantastic!
We went over to a relatives house & later in the evening visited the huge Meenakshi temple.
At 7PM I bid adieu to our family. They were to continue further south for one more week. I was to come back to SBC to attend work! I was to catch 6732 Tuticorin-SBC exp. At MDU plfrm no.1, I spotted the prestigious MDU-MAS Pandian exp. It has got a fantastic rake hauled by WDP2.
My train arrived behind an ED D2. I had got an S.U.B seat due to late booking. I was quite surprised to see my coach with 50% hindi speakers! Might be they were from business community.
My SUB seat was of no use for me, so I was looking to desperately get my seat exchanged with a RAC!!
I found one RAC aunty ji & told her "aunty ji, mujhe rath ko teek therah say neendh nahi athi, kyap aap seat exchange karenge!". She was very happy with my social service!!
I spent the entire night sitting RAC. But somehow the slow spirit of the D2 & previous days activity put me to sleep! We reached ED around 1am, late by 1hr. Here, I woke up & watched a ED WAP4 being coupled to our train.
Immediately, with the traditional loud horn we departed ED with a new spirit! Driver drove at MPS 100-105kmph right through. The ghat section at Bommidi was done in terrific style. At JTJ bypass I fell asleep. In the morning by 5:30am we arrived at KJM!! I got off & reached my house by auto, with some real happy memories from this whirlwind trip.
Thanks for reading!