Posts Tagged ‘Trains’

Guwahati to Patna

My ride back to Patna was via a different route- The Goalpara- Alipurduar- Hasimara- Siliguri line. As I discovered, this was a beautiful route, near the Bhutan border, crossing through wildlife sancturies, and dense forests, with many rivulets, and major rivers like the Mahananda and Teesta. For this particular part of the journey, I could just gaze out of the window, feeling the beauty that I could see, taking pictures and feeling lucky. Beautiful hill streams descended down, it was the monsoons and I was just thinking that the enxt time I come here, I would go further up these streams, to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.

The train reached New Jalpaiguri via Siliguri, and proceeded towards Patna. I chatted with a young boy from Katihar, and when he knew I was a doctor, he told about himself, he was an intelligent guy, a sincere one too. Was appearing for various exams for paramilitary forces, bank clerk etc, but everywhere, there are few posts, and lakhs of applicants. There are many like him, who deserve much better, but the country fails to harness their potential. On the other hand, the crowd in the cities has never got the opportunity to face these circumstances. There are few opportunities in the states of Bihar and eastern UP, and the huge population, which can be a big asset, has nothing to do, nowhere to go. Grossly under employed, grossly dis-satisfied. Still, putting a brave face and fighting the competition.

The train reached Patna early morning, and my friend’s brother came to receive me.

Guwahati- Mon Nagaland

On seeing Assam, Gandhiji said, This is a land of magnificient vegetation, of mighty river Brahmaputra, As Gujarat is in the west of India and to the south of the Vindhyas, Assam is in the extreme east and north of the country. It is the northeast corner of India.

Assam is indeed green and a visit during the monsoons was indeed lucky for me. On reaching Simaluguri, there was my brother-in-law’s(jiju) driver waiting there, since the previous night, to take me to Mon, about 100 km from here. My jiju is the District Magistrate of Mon, which was the reason that I was visiting this remote but pristine place. My way to Nagaland was through a narrow road, and it took me three hours to reach, without getting sick, which was an achievement, as the road has steep curves, bends and bumps. All the way, I was talking to the driver, chatting carelessly. I knew that this region was the site of a bloody insurgency few years back, with frequent ambush on government vehicles. Now, Nagaland is at peace, and there is continuous dialogue going on with the insurgents.

There were few tea gardens on the way, and bridges made of wood, over which even trucks passed. After 3 hours, we drove into the DM’s residense, where my sister welcomed me. I was happy, and ready to hit the bed. After a refreshing bath, had lunch.

Mon is a beautiful town, with a population of 25000. It is a district headquarter, but the remotest district of Nagalad, on Arunachal border. There is just one road to reach here, from which i came. One bus comes here early morning, from Sonari. There are few other buses, but this is the most suitable route. Accomodation is available at ADC guest House, on request beforehand. Mon is hardly visited by Tourists, and is among the few places which lie untouched from the tourism point, still pristine and calm.

Howrah- Guwahati

I woke up to see blue hills, rising high, at a distance, with fluffy woolly clouds. I sensed that New jalpaiguri (NJP) was near. In half an hour, the train reached NJP, and there were Chinese goods all around, cheap plastic goods, electronics, etc. I brought binoculars, thinking that I may need them in this trip, and used them, but they lacked quality. My tip- do not buy anything from here, if you want to buy, be prepared to dump it if it doesn’t work later. And bargain. The binoculars cost me Rs 200, while the initial price was Rs 1800..

As we passed through the doars- the tarai plains of Bengal, I clicked few of the most beautiful pictures of my trip, of paddy fields with water from the recent bountiful rains, snow white clouds,lines of coconut like trees, which were actually betel nut trees, much of it can not be described.

Doars in Bengal

I did not mind getting late for Guwahati, and the train entered Assam. Crossing the Brahmaputra is an experience worth recollecting. Later, someone told me that once you cross this river, you cross it six times. I think I’ve crossed it 4 more times already.

On reaching Guwahati at 7 pm, there was nothing much to do, as the sun had set, which happens early in this part of the country. My next train was after 4 hours. On coming out of the station, there was a heavy police and paramilitary presence. I thought it was better to stay at the station, and this was later confirmed by a boy whom I saw wearing a t-shirt of Guwahati Medical College, and chatted with him.

My next destination was Mon, Nagaland, and my train would take me to Simaluguri in Upper Assam.

Pune- Howrah

Starting the journey is a high point, with all the uncertainities, excitement and fear ahead. Azad Hind Express- the train that would take me to Howrah, runs late by 8 hours everyday, after the naxal attack on Jnaneshwari Express. It was the last week of August, like any other August night, when, at 2 am, I boarded the train, and started my journey.

I was lucky in many aspects. There were people with whom I could stay at my destination, the tickets got confirmed, a miracle, as I had booked them 4 days back.

The next day, I was travelling through Maharashtra, the whole day, passing through the state I knew through and through. I prefer to keep quiet, and think, drifting in my thoughts. Captured many photos of the August sky, full of misty clouds. There was a peculiar hill, tapered at its top, appearing like a phallus high up in the sky. The sun was setting as my train chugged into Nagpur, the centre of India. This was to be a long journey, the longest in this trip.

The next day, I was in Orissa. Saw the rolling hills of eastern ghats for the first time, the whole region is rich is mineral wealth, and there were many wagons loaded with coal and iron ore; then came the steel city of Rourkela, and then Kharagpur, the longest platform of India, nothing mush to admire actually. Meanwhile, I started a conversation with a fellow ppassenger, from Assam, who was doing his PhD from Pune, and asked me to go through his thesis, for a proof reading. The next 2-3 hours were spent correcting spelling and grammatical mistakes in his thesis, as i gained knowledge about the topic- about Vaishnavism in Assam- Barapeta district.

The state had changed, so had the surroundings, and the language. All this happens gradually in a train journey, almost imperceptibly, until one wakes up to find different people , speaking another language, around himself.

The train reached Howrah in the evening. I deposited my luggage at the cloak room, which was to be a difficult task in the days to come, as my backpack could not be locked. A tip of Rs 20 did the work. Now, much lighter, I had fish curry at Jan aahar counter at the station, horrible in taste, costing only 20 bucks, this was my first experience of Bengali fish curry.

I moved out of the station, to experience the city of Joy, in the middle of a downpour.