Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tale behind Railway track

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 15; the fifteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

After giving some thought on what should I write for BAT 15, I decided to go by a photo blog. A blog on rail tracks. Not sure if the rules of blogaton allow this, but there are a few words of experience along with the photos.

It was a famous trekking spot of Karnataka - Sakleshpura railway track trek. I say "was" because this is no longer a trekking spot. It was when the track was being built\enhanced to broad-guage. Now, the trains run here and trekking is not allowed.

We walked along the tracks through the trek from one abandoned station to another yet to be constructed station. The track was in the hilly regions of Malnad and hence there were several tunnels and small waterfalls all along the track.

Laying of tracks is a huge effort. Lorries need to carry stones, track material and other heavy stuff in terrains which difficult even to walk. At one place, one lorry had to go in reverse direction for around 1km to let the other lorry pass by. The skills of these drivers are really amazing. It looks like a daredevil act.
The tunnels are drilled right through the hills. Just imagining the effort that goes on to do this is mind blowing.

Inside the tunnels is a scary experience. They are home to bats. Long patches of darkness in broad daylight adds to the scary characteristics. You can check the stone walls of these tunnels cut to allow the train to pass through. People work here like miners and lay the tracks after making the land flat. The tunnels are not always straight, the bends add to the difficult engineering.

It’s an amazing feeling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You feel like running to it, but the darkness holds you back and you continue to walk instead.

Finally the tunnel exit is bliss. This experience of tunnels happens several times in this trek and each one is as exciting as the previous ones.

There are modern tunnels as-well. The ones made from concrete and steel. The intermediate openings (as seen in the picture) are like watch points. But I am not sure of the technical reasoning behind it.
One of the older tunnels was built in 1977, but the workers gave an impression that this tunnel will not be used. The tunnel can accommodate only meter gauge trains and cannot be expanded to broad gauge.  What a waste of effort!
There are several bridges along this track. As it is a hilly region, the tracks are laid in the valleys after elevation. There are no railings or fence around these tracks on the bridges. Walking on the tracks on the bridges gives a giddy feeling. People sat on the tracks to rest and avoid falling. Friends crawled on four limbs to cross such bridges. Building such concrete bridges in deep jungles is another engineering adventure.
The hilly region adds more complexity. Mud slides can block tracks anytime. This is also a region which gets a good amount of rain fall. To prevent these, the potentially dangerous slopes are covered with mesh (plastic and metallic ones). It is interesting to see how effective these have been now. During this monsoon we had the track closed for some days due to land slides.

In some places where the workers building the tracks walk frequently, there were iron planks laid out in the center between 2 tracks. This is the walking track within the railway track.

We saw some real good innovation there. Who said that its only trains run on railway tracks? Watch these images. These are mode of transport for the employees involved in the construction of tracks in these remote regions. There is an inspection van. The Sumo with the carriage behind it, is the tool + people transportation means. The modified lorry is the mass transport medium.

Finally we caught some really cute kids there. These are the kids of the workers who toil day and night in the treacherous conditions to build us the rail track. They are denied education. Small kids are parenting their younger siblings when their parents are busy in making the rail tracks.
Just sit back and think – So much time, effort, lives, knowledge, money goes into building such innumerable tracks here in India. And it takes a stupid mind and some insane thoughts to blow it up and harm people. I hope some of those destroyers think in a more constructive manner and  appreciate the efforts put in by the people who build the tracks.

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Amity said...

Well, your take serves the purpose you wanted to convey...

any edifice built has its own story, grim or happy ones!

good way also to share your insights and all the photos!

all the best!

Lost in thoughts said...

@Amity - Thanks!
Yeah! Any destruction hurts somebody and helps nobody...

The Fool said...

I am very sad after reading your post, man. I had always wanted to do this trek for so many years but never got about it. And now I can never do it.

Lost in thoughts said...

@fool-it was a very different trek..its not about rocky hills and trees..I managed the trek just before the traffic opened..2006..but memories have stayed.

Md. Muddassir Shah said...

I have been to Sakleshwarapura track.
Thanks for bringing those memories back :)

Lost in thoughts said...

@Muddassir- you are welcome.

Cherry Blossom said...

A picturesque voyage through the Sakleshwarapura track. A different take on the image and a very convincing one, especially for the apt descriptions. All the best.

Zainab Urooj said...

Hey!!.. Thats a nice take.. It was nice to see you share your experience with us. I'm just wondering is it ok for BAT 15?

Zainab Urooj said...

And All the Best for BAT

Lost in thoughts said...

@Cherry Blossom - thanks for your wishes...God that you found it convincing.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Zainub - There are stations and tracks...But i am not sure if this is an allowed entry.

Anu...:) said...

Very different and thought-provoking post :)

Lost in thoughts said...

@Anu - Thanks

Sidra Sayeed said...

The individuality stands out. I love talking about the little treasures that surround me and this one is just another one of those treasures. It's not the Taj Mahal but it is worthy nonetheless. Kudos for creativity.

Lost in thoughts said...

Thanks Sidra. We sometimes miss out on seeming small stuff, because its routine.

Brijender Singh said...

There is absolutely nothing that is routine about what you have written-it is an absolutely original and brilliant take on the topic and I for one really enjoyed savoring every word and each picture.
Thanks for the same.
Btw,i am sure you would have already read up on it but just in case you havent, do take a look at the construction of the Kalka-Shimla rail track, esp the story of the Barog tunnel-it might be worth your while.

Lost in thoughts said...

@Brijender - Thank you for the encouraging words.
I have heard about the Kalka-Shimla rail track, but have not read the details. I will do so. Thanks for this hint.