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India 2012 - 14: Thums Up for Ankai Killa! (50 p.)

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19 Mar 2007
Vienna, Austria

The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 13: Metre Gauge across Narmada River (50 p.)

The accompanying video:

* "Thums Up" (= "Thumbs Up") is an Indian Coca-Cola version:

February 13 2012

We continue with my second secret service interview within two days:
Inside Khandwa station master's office I was met by a gentleman of "Central Railway Intelligence". He was friendly, but acted in typical intelligence service manner as if nobody could see through him, although everything was quite obvious. At first we talked about India, then what Indian Railways could learn from ÖBB, then he wanted to see my photos, later those from India and especially around Khandwa. Now I had enough and told him I was tired and wanted to get more rest until departure. He said, yes, sure, take a rest, probably relieved I did not plan to take more pictures on his turf. The problem with those bureaucrats was that they never wanted to take any responsibility, which made it sometimes difficult even with photo permit. I could have told him that his job had become obsolete with the advent of Google Earth, mobile phone cameras and Wikipedia, but as he left me alone I remained diplomatic. The funniest thing he claimed was that there were no Indian railway enthusiasts, as Indians were far too busy to have hobbies. The friends I met soon afterwards were highly amused about that, especially since there were plenty of organized railfans living not too far away, dozens alone in Pune. I packed and returned the retiring room key to the duty manager's office where a shift change had taken place. Still, I was awaited with a friendly "there he is!", people wanted to see my photos and I took some portraits.

The new duty station master in (fictional) action.




I liked these slogans best - also found them in other stations spelled correctly.

Finally I said goodbye and sat down inside the AC waiting room. After a short period of time I had enough and walked to the end of the platform to catch at least a little broad gauge action.

Soon an express hauled by Itarsi WAP-4 22885 approached from the Mumbai side.

The drivers greeted me with full headlights, showing the victory sign as they were passing by.

From the other direction an imposing WAG-7 hauled freight crept into the siding.


Kazipet WAG-7 twins 27746 and 27744 surrounded by various aspects of Indian society.

I got what I wanted and returned to the waiting room as my train, 12150 Patna - Pune Superfast coming a long way from Bihar, was supposed to be 40 minutes delayed. Actually we departed one hour late on my only AC III tier ride of the journey. I had a family in my compartment but it still was quite comfortable, at nine o'clock we turned down the berths, six plus two along the corridor. At Bhusaval Jn. we had accumulated a delay of 1 1/2 hours, but there probably was enough slack time planned until Manmad es we arrived there only 50 minutes late shortly before midnight. I fought my way to the exit, one half of the station square was completely full of people sleeping on the ground, I have not seen this since. I took a tuk-tuk to my hotel which was supposed to be in walking distance, but that way I reached it quickly and could catch a short night rest.

February 14 2012

Half time of the journey is over - from now on you will only get broad gauge action and breathtaking landscapes - promised! :)

At 5 a.m. I had to get up as I was meeting Sachin, railfan from nearby Nashik, for a photo session near Manmad. Shortly before 5:30 I was called that he waited for me in the lobby. I went down and also met a friend of him, Anish. It turned out that Sachin had come in his car, so I could take all luggage with me. We packed everything into his Maruti Suzuki and hit the road to a top spot just a few kilometres away. We encountered plenty of speedbumps which proved to be fatal as suddenly we had a flat in the rear left tyre. Sachin drove to the side, luckily he had all utensils and spare wheel in the trunk. We pottered around a bit, then the railway adventure could continue. The magical place was called Ankai Killa - "Killa" meaning fort, in this case a hill (also without artificial fortifications) - , between a group of table mountains two lines leaving Manmad into opposite directions were joined again. One line was continuing towards Aurangabad, the other to Daund. The latter was in the process of being electrified up to the pilgrimage town of Shirdi, catenary masts were standing but the wires not up yet. We quickly visited Ankai Killa station master, who once again wanted to get rid of responsibility and called a few higher ranks, but then it worked quickly and we could move on. Morning was breaking and we drove to the foot of the panorama hill to climb it. In the meantime the sun started rising and illuminated the mighty fort of Ankai like a halo. Towards Manmad more mountains were becoming visible including "Thums up"-hill, a really fitting name.

The location can be found here:
The station called "Ankai" here actually is Ankai Killa, Ankai station is situated a few kilometres south. Behind it the lines separate again (visible in satellite mode).

Already during the climb we encountered the first train coming from Manmad before sunrise at 6:50. The headlights can be seen in the distance, "Thums Up"-hill to the left.

The signals of Ankai Killa still shone red, next to it state highway 10 - we had now returned to Maharashtra state, where I had started from.

The train approached on the loop leaving Manmad westwards.

A WDM-2 "Jumbo" was in charge of traction, this rarer design variation was specified by a low short hood.


The panorama including the distinctive silhouette of Ankai Killa.

We had made the climb - Thums Up! :)

One of the top trains of the day was approaching, 12072 "Janshatabdi Express", a daytime train between the centres of Aurangabad and Mumbai, covering 374 kilometres in 4:55 h.


Passing Ankai Killa station.



The train took the eastern loop into Manmad to be able to leave west towards Mumbai.



I shortly climbed a little higher to catch the first sunrays.

Sunshine on "Thums Up".


The next spectacle was provided by WDM-2 twins with proper freight thundering up the grade from Manmad (see video from 1h:09:55).


Freight traffic by rail and road.

Sunrise panorama with freight.


A few wild dogs passing by.

Freight train through Ankai Killa station.

And the next express.


Passenger traffic by rail and road.

Overtaking on the state highway, the huge pillar was part of a wind turbine.

Now you had a clearer view towards "Thums Up"-hill and beyond - it was intriguing, you could even make out the nail! ;)

A final view at the train on the eastern line.

We hiked back down to the lines, as soon as we had reached the bottom we needed to run to catch the next trains: southbound Guntakal WDG-3A 14656 meeting WDG-4 twins with freight towards Manmad.

Sachin's proven vehicle near the bridge across the railway.

Mast impressions with Ankai Killa.

The next express was delayed so we took a breakfast break at one of many highway reststops. We had omelettes with chili pieces and some kind of potato cake. Afterwards we took a bumpy field road to Ankai station, situated about four kilometres south of Ankai Killa and one kilometre east of the road. Here the station master was more cooperative and we prepared for 11078 "Jhelum Express".

The Guard entering the stage.

We covinced the guard to pose as model and soon Guntakal WDG-3A 13068 named "Shakti" flew towards us hauling a long rake.

11078 "Jhelum Express" Jammu Tawi - Pune in front of Ankai Killa broad side.

The train had accumulated almost a two hour delay on its 1900 kilometres journey from way up north.

The conductor finishing his piece.

Now we had to return to Manmad as my train to Kalyan and later on to Pune via Thull and Bhor Ghats was about to depart at 11:30. More about the mountain routes can be seen in the next parts.
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