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Blog Entry# 2066155
Posted: Nov 20 2016 (17:04)

32 Responses
Last Response: Aug 14 (04:09)
Nov 20 2016 (17:04)   KGVL/Kadagaravalli (1 PFs) | UBL/WDG-4/12050

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Entry# 2066155            Tags   Past Edits
A trip from another lifetime!
"South Western Railway". Not really the zone that one would think of, when discussing about high speed railway or double routes or anything that makes train travel fanciful. To the hyper-active author of this travelogue however, it offered the chance of a lifetime to visit one of the most beautiful routes on Indian railways. Here is a 5 year old travelogue of my hike along one of SWR's famous duo of ghat routes, shortly before such adventures were stopped ( temporarily I hope) by the railway authorities.
The town of Sakleshpur lies 220km west of Bangalore. It is a rather quite hill town, sitting on the edge of the Western ghats. To the tourist, the region has several beautiful valleys, luscious forests and coffee plantations and even an ancient fort that offers a panorama of the valley. Further up the road towards Mangalore, the route passes through the Bisele ghats. And this route is sufficient to make one feel like he is walking in the lower ranges of the Himalayas. But that's for another travelogue. :)
To the rail fan however, it is more than just a tourist spot. The town may spell the end of the Deccan plateau, but for the railway, it is the beginning of a twisting, turning, breakneck journey down the western ghats. Popularly known as the 'Green trek', the winding tracks between the towns of Sakleshpur and Subhramanya road, offer some of the most beautiful views of trains and nature in India.
Our trip began late on a friday night as we got into a cab headed towards Sakleshpur. Earlier that day, I was talking to the station master at Whitefield about places to visit in SWR. I was already aware of the Braganza ghats, thanks to IRFCA, but didn't have much idea about the other less traveled ghat route in SWR. The SM's description was enough to get a bunch of lazy interns all excited and pumped up to do a 20 km hike along the railway tracks, in the middle of nowhere!
We reached Sakleshpur at 4:30 AM on a very rainy morning, and upon inquiry at the station, we were told that there was no official permit required for the hike, and that we were free to do it at our own risk. A coffee and a short drive later, we got down at a small station called Donigal about 8 km out from SKLR. This is quite close to the core part of the SKLR-SBHR section and looked like the ideal spot to start the hike.
The route here goes down on a continuous gradient. The gradient is quite apparent in many sections while walking as well and the hike is definitely not for the weak-hearted.
The most amazing aspect of this route compared to the other ghat routes is the sheer amount of fear it can inspire in a casual observer. The tracks run at the edge of valley most of the time, and bridges hanging precariously on the edges of hills can make even the most experienced Loco pilot question the judgement of the people who decided to construct this route.
10 kms out from Donigal, we reach the abandoned station of Kadagaravalli. No passenger operations are carried out here any more and other than a station master, a pointsman and a few people to do brake tests, the station was completely abandoned. This could definitely qualify as one of the most secluded stations in IR. It was raining cats and dogs by now and the station, surrounded by dense forest, with a valley on one side and a steep hill on the other, truly looked like a picture out of God's own book! It was a sight enough to bring a smile to the most depressed of people.
Shortly after the station, the rails enter the 2nd longest tunnel in the section. From here on, it's a roller coaster ride through tunnels and deep gorges. The tallest bridge on this section is sandwiched between 2 tunnels and at 200 feet tall, is a sight to behold, with the water frothing heavily at the bottom, and the base of the bridge lost in the mist.
A couple of hours later ( we had walked almost 18 km by now), and we had almost completed the main section of the route as we reached the outskirts of the abandoned station at Yedakumari. By now, the rain had worsened and the gangmen we encountered advised us to turn back as the route further up through the forest ( Our plan was to walk through the forest for 5 km and reach the national highway where our cab would pick us up) was flooded and was unsafe with elephants moving around.
The gangman was kind enough to talk to the LP of a freight going uphill, who consented to drop us back at Donigal.
I have to say, standing outside an ALCO, leaning on the rails, while racing through tunnels, bridges and valleys, in heavy rain, is an experience of a life time.
We reached Donigal in about an hour, owing to the speed restrictions in place due to the rain ( but no one was complaining :) ). And it took another hour for the tired adventurers to reach their cab and start their journey home, physically exhausted, but mentally refreshed and raring to go!! All in all, we had hiked for about 36 km for the day!!
The trip in pictures. :)
1.) Crack of dawn, ready for take off. :)
2.) Curving towards the hills
3.) Bridge number:1. Tunnel number 1 would follow soon!
4.) Tunnel number 1. Tunnel:1 and 2 were placed quite close together.
5.) One of the several scary bridges to follow.
6.) The abandoned station of Kadagaravalli
7 and 8.) UBL WDG4 12108 and 12133 leading a BTPN rake up the ghats.
9) UBL WDG4 12050 ( MU'ed with 12087) banking the freight rake up the gradient. We footplated in the same loco later during our return ( The loco had completed an up-down trip in this time).
10,11,12) The lonely backdrop and beautiful tunnels at the end of KGVL station. These tunnels were constructed in 1971/72. Waiting in the tunnels for the rain to subside.
13, 14) Breath-taking, dangerous viaducts. A big salute to the gangmen who patrol these dangerous routes in the dead of the night to ensure a safe passage for the passengers.
15) Rain lashing out, while we wait for our loco to get the clearance to go uphill.
15) Loco pic for 12050 WDG4
16) The beautiful landscape around tunnel 3 after the rains! On the way back home!
Hope I managed to present a good picture of this beautiful route. I wanted to post many more pics, but I was afraid my post ws already too long!! If possible, do visit this route in the day time. The YPR-Karwar day time train passes through this route thrice a week. Take the train, get down at each station when the train halts for a brake check. Enjoy the unique combination of nature and trains, each enhancing the beauty of the other, leaving an indelible mark on your minds!! :) :)

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