The Annual Rail Pilgrimage: Part 1: The Planning

The Annual Rail Pilgrimage

Jerusalem, Mecca, Dwarka, Bodh Gaya etc. are some of the holiest places in the world visited by millions and millions of people from around the globe. For some, it’s a ritual that makes them visit these places year after year while for some, these holy places hold spiritual significance. For some, it’s a way of connecting with God while for some it’s just a way to find peace and solitude from this maddening world.

However, for the four of us (names to follow soon), we have a different line of thought. We may or may not undertake annual pilgrimages to the above-mentioned places but one thing that we don’t forget year after year is our “Annual Rail Pilgrimage”.

The “Annual Rail Pilgrimage” as the name suggests, is an annual trip taken by Chechu Mama, Ganesh Iyer, and yours truly to explore some of the remote and inferior lines in the vast network of Indian Railways. And by inferior and remote I mean, the meter-gauge and narrow-gauge lines that still exist in some corners of India almost on the verge of extinction but still proudly uniting India.

So like last year, where we only explored the Mavli meter-gauge section of NWR, this year we happened to travel to a lot of new places in UP, MP, and Rajasthan exploring some of the hidden gems the railways has on offer. From free lounge experiences to my first ever ride on the Delhi Metro to traveling on India’s oldest and first Shatabdi Express to enjoying like a kid onboard the Mathura railbus, our pilgrimage was no less than an adventure.

So, without wasting much time, let’s start as I take you through our pilgrimage story without any more deviations.

Once Ganesh, Rajeev, and I were home from our Rajasthan ride in August 2017, we started checking the calendar for a long weekend in Aug/Sep 2018 and the routes to cover. Whatsapp came to our rescue and a group was quickly formed. However, this time, we had a new member – V. Sheshadriji whom we affectionately call Chechu mama. We all thought about exploring the lines in Kutch and Saurashtra, the North-east, and even Kashmir but nothing fell into place.

A lot of itineraries were planned only to be dumped later. Days and months passed by but somehow, we were not able to zero in on our plans.

However, after much deliberation, planning, and a round of discussions, the following itinerary was decided and approved by the youngest member of our group – Chechu mama. 

13th Sep 2018: Bangalore – New Delhi (By 6E 2988)

14th Sep 2018: New Delhi – Mathura (By 12002 Habibganj Shatabdi)

Take a ride on the Mathura – Vrindavan -Mathura meter-gauge railbus.

Take 11078 Jhelum Exp. from Mathura to Dholpur and then a ride on the Bari – Dholpur narrow-gauge passenger.

Take 12190 Mahakaushal Exp. from Dholpur to Gwalior and overnight stay.

15th Sep 2018: Take an early morning ride between Gwalior – Motijheel – Gwalior on 52175 Gwalior – Sheopur Kalan narrow-gauge passenger. 

Take India’s fastest train 12049 Gatimaan Exp. to New Delhi and then take a red-eye flight back to Bangalore.

Ganesh Iyer and I were to fly to New Delhi from Bangalore. Chechu mama was taking a train all the way from Chennai to New Delhi via Katpadi and Rajeev Nair (from Mumbai) was suppose to join us the next day (14th Sep) at Mathura. 

While I took the responsibility of booking the flight tickets and the hotels, our river man, GI, took the onus of booking the train tickets. Everything done and dusted, we started the countdown clock for 13th September, an auspicious day owing to Ganesh Chaturthi.

While last year, it was the green carpet in Rajasthan and an amazing tunnel experience, what does Ganpatiji have in store for us this time around? Let’s read in the next 3 parts which will be coming up very soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a small teaser for you all – 

The Annual Rail Pilgrimage

Comments, Feedback, Suggestions are welcome 🙂 

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