|28th May 2012, 21:13||#1|
Join Date: 19 Mar 2007
Location: Vienna, Austria
India 2012 - 16: Pune - I have been to Monkey Hill! (50 p.)
The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 15: Pune - Deccan Queen (50 p.)
The accompanying video:
February 15 2012
We continue at the Mumbai end of Lonavla station, where there already had accumulated a jam of two WAG-7 banker trios.
The next uphill express immediately followed.
Dual current WCAM-3 21891 approaching on the last uphill metres.
11025 Manmad - Pune Express, which had taken the same route as me the day before but with an early departure from Manmad.
Enough time for joking until such an express had passed.
This train was helped by two class WAG-5s, older models than WAG-7s. WAG-5A 23206, built in the 80s, had a similar body to a class WAM-4.
Some sidings still consisted of antique rails with bullhead profile.
A unit of WAG-7s started its descent to Karjat, only the front loco had lifted its pantograph.
Lonavla Central - 622 m above sea level.
You’ll Never Walk Alone - in India...
Cleaning on the roof of the disabled toilet.
Caught in mid-jump! - in the meantime the express continued to Pune.
The tuk-tuk stand in front of the station.
The national sport could not fall short even in such airy heights.
Ashish now had to leave us due to a business meeting, Apurva, Lalam and I took the old National Highway to Khandala where we turned into a small side road at a panoramic spot.
The original crossing of these mountains could only be managed by using switchbacks. A reversing station can be seen here, the old railway embankment still was used by the side road, next to it the old National Highway, below the motorway. Since the first half of the 20th century the railway used a tunnel through the mountain and saw the light of day again in the background to the right. To the far left you can spot Monkey Hill where we were about to drive via a bumpy dirt road, also along the abandoned railway line. The historical image originates from the late 1800s or early 1900s.
One of the best known roads in India, Mumbai - Pune Expressway, curved up the mountain to Khandala coming from Mumbai in not at all motorway-like serpentines with 30 kph restriction. At first we slightly got lost and ended up at the serpentine down to the right. But finally we found the inconspicuous start of the dirt road to Monkey Hill, past a transformer station, but not the driveway to it.
Despite tiny 12" wheels Tata Nanos have proper ground clearance, so offroading was no problem. We reached Monkey Hill Cabin (MHC) without bigger hassle. Apurva checked in at the cabin, then we walked along the tracks away from Monkey Hill and climbed the catch sidings on the counter slope. From there we reached a barren part of the hillside featuring a great view.
The lines split up here, on the additional one leading to Mumbai the other way around the mountain a Kalyan WDG-3A pair of bankers rolled downhill. To the left you can spot the two catch sidings, the view to the right towards the west and seaside.
The next downhill train stopped for a brake test in front of the cabin. In the background to the left spectacular Duke's Nose peeked out, in front to the right Monkey Hill.
Krishnarajapuram (KJM) WDP-4B 40066 with 11014 Coimbatore - Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai) Express entered the tunnel below us.
Once you turned left the viaduct which we had seen from the side in the morning came into view.
The quota maintenance vehicle - pushed by WAG-7 27289 and 27102!
WAG-5 23547 and 23490 rolled downhill.
Regular passenger trains took a lunch break, but we still encountered plenty of action: WAG-5 23809 pulled a freight plus class WDG-4 uphill, the latter would take over on diesel lines from Pune.
A panoramic view of this spectacular landscape. Next to the tree on the summit in front you can spot an object which the Pune railfans already had noticed on century-old images. Once they had climbed up, and it turned out to be a marker indicating the border between districts.
The long snake of freightcars was pushed by our old acquaintances WAG-5 23206 and 23418 towards the midday sun.
A closer view at the catch sidings: partly they still comprised Great Indian Peninsular Railway rails dating from down to 1911. Apurva told me that there had been 4 occasions within the last century when the catch sidings had to be used.
The next downhill units from a steep rail perspective.
Now the sun had moved so we could position ourselves for uphill trains.
06512 Jaipur - Yesvantpur Garib Rath Special came by, "Garib Rath" means something like "poor man's chariot" and is a type of full AC train for people who cannot afford to ride the more expensive top class trains.
More about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garib_Rath
With Hubli (actually) freight loco WDG-4 12052 I promise that this will be the last "backside" of a GM loco for the rest of the trip, and there still are a few EMDs to come!
Two ladies had shortly before walked past us as if it was a park and not a lonely mountainside.
Pushed by a well-known trio with speed and sparks flying, uphill there was no reason to stop here. Some did not seem to be very moved by the tempo.
Along came one of the very sparse local trains of the Ghat section - only one by day - , 51318 Pune - Karjat passenger.
Guntakal WDM-3A 18906R in my favourite Indian livery passed industrious track workers, busy since we had arrived.
A youthful loco crew entering the tunnel, my friends thought that it should have taken the third line.
Once more friendly passengers.
The good old pair was back soon afterwards taking the third line, you can see the difference between class WAG-5 bodies well.
High visibility vest! - And a commuter who did not want to take his shoppings from Lonavla home on a crammed passenger train, or had missed it...
Not that you think Monkey Hill was only called that, it boasted a sizeable monkey population, only on the counter slope you were safe in a monkey-free zone. But I was warned not to leave anything lying around on the ground unguarded, otherwise it could disappear within seconds.
Still the King of the Hill!
A freight actually hauled by three WAG-7s followed, a rarity.
But from the other direction 16339 Mumbai CST - Nagercoil Express thundered upwards at the same time.
Erode WDM-3D 11222, the most recent ALCO version, for example built on GM bogies. Some of the details you could capture while it was passing by: for example the speedometer needle at just above 50 kph, or the fact the it had been built in November 2007 by Diesel Loco Works at Varanasi.
Some were less impressed by the express rushing past.
Now it was time to leave for the evening location, on the way to MHC we met WCAM-3 21944 hauling 11026 Pune - Manmad Express which we already had spotted going into the other direction earlier that day.
To the left the third line "up", following good old British tradition towards the railway headquarters in Mumbai, branched off. As you can see a difference in distance compared to the mainline of 118 to 120 kms resulted from the diversion.
Airy travelling pan shot.
Back to MHC at the foot of windy Monkey Hill, definitely a more convenient post than humid, sweltering Mumbai, even if it had more than 30 degrees C here. More bankers rolled downhill, but we moved on to another well-known location - more soon!