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India 2012 - 9: Metre Gauge to Udaipur (50 p.)

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19 Mar 2007
Vienna, Austria

The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 8: Jaisalmer - Desert Dreams (50 p.)

The accompanying video:

9. 2. 2012

My acquaintances from Udaipur had purchased an overnight bus ticket Jaisalmer - Udaipur for me, now I only had to endure the ride. Originally I had planned to take the overnight train to Jodhpur and travel on to the metre gauge railway from Marwar, however, I would have lost plenty of time that way. A tuk-tuk took me to the "bus station", a dusty field and a few shacks next to a roundabout. A few girls from Spain waited for the same bus, also a desperate German who did not get a berth anymore and was not allowed to ride over night. The interior consisted of regular seating rows for people travelling shorter distances - the bus stopped at every corner to take someone on - and above, where usually luggage racks can be found, the bunks, single to the left, double to the right. Larger pieces of luggage had to be stored in the dusty boot of the bus. I tried to get comfortable on my single berth when I noticed the problem: the bunk had sliding windows on both sides, towards the corridor and towards the outside, so you could open the sides completely. Of course without proper insulation, already the first acceleration produced a draft. Only now it had 25 degrees with sunshine outside, in the night it would cool down to six degrees. I prepared as well as I could, I had taken warm clothes to put on. The window gaps I filled with tissue packages and plastic bags, the outside window constantly sliding open was wedged in with an empty plastic bottle. Naturally it was no smooth ride, some roads were better, others worse, but you always had those speed bumps in Indian villages and constant daring overtaking attempts. You never had your quiet.

10. 2. 2012

At night we stopped at Jodhpur, then we continued south to Udaipur. Close to Udaipur roads are good but mountainous. Shortly before arrival at 6:30 a.m. it was the coldest, hardly to bear, but what don't you suffer for more good photo opportunities. Additionally I had to endure a certain pressure, at least a stop at 3:00 a.m. brought some relief. Still, I made it and was thrown out at Udaipur as swiftly as all other passengers. I received my backpack in extremely dusty condition, I could hardly recognize it. At the pavement I cleaned it throughly then waited for my local guide Harish who was about to pick me up.
Harish came by Jeep with young driver and welcomed me heartily. He had already been here once at 5 a.m. as one bus driver had told him that was when the bus usually arrived. Harish turned out to be very caring, he had already made several phone calls to my Jaisalmer hotel the day before to make sure everything was alright for me. First we warmed up with chai from a street stall, then continued to a hotel were I met the German tour organizer Heinrich Hubbert, who had helped me with the photo permit and preparations and would accompany us for the next two days. I freshened up shortly at his room, then we drove on to the metre gauge line from Ahmedabad ending now here but formerly part of an extensive network. As first train we expected the 19944 "Ahmedabad - Udaipur Express", one of the last metre gauge overnight express trains. We passed the first station outside Udaipur, Umra, already in beautiful hilly landscape. However, more and more new buildings were being constructed here. We continued and approached a conglomeration of farms, my companions claimed that there would be a nice view from the neighbouring hill.

Road at the first photo spot.

I walked ahead alone and came across a field with farmer, lined by stone walls with thorny shrubs on top as deterrent. Gates to fields always consisted of tightly woven branches you had to bend to the side. Further uphill I encountered a shrine where coconuts had been sacrificed. Now I had to cope with vegetation similar to Mediterranean to get to the top of the panoramic hill. Heinrich told me he had never encountered any snakes or other dangerous animals here, only once he had seen a leopard from afar. We had plenty of time, due to derailments in the recent past speed restrictions of 20-30 kph had been imposed. Because of that the express was supposed to arrive one hour late at nine o'clock. And so it turned out to be, long before passing our spot you could admire the beautiful rake snaking through the mountains which it had previously traversed by tunnel.


1	ADI	Ahmedabad Jn	First	23:00		WR	0	1	 
2	ASV	Asarva Jn	23:11	23:13	2	WR	2	1	 
3	SDGM	Sardargram	23:22	23:24	2	WR	7	1	 
4	HMT	Himmatnagar	01:35	01:50	15	WR	88	2	 
5	DNRP	Dungarpur	04:14	04:16	2	NWR	183	2	 
6	JYM	Jai Samand Road	05:47	05:49	2	NWR	235	2	 
7	ZW	Zawar		06:25	06:27	2	NWR	258	2	 
8	UDZ	Udaipur City	08:05	Last Stn	NWR	298	2

The train passing through the Aravalli Mountains, at the southern slopes of which Udaipur is situated.

Past the farm.

You had to get used to the purple of Sabarmati YDM-4 6299, an ALCO derivate built in March 1972, chugging by with its neat maroon train including sleeper coaches.

My friends, the thorns.

A view back at Umra could also easily be managed, as you can see the city was spreading that far, new plots of land were already being prepared.

Afterwards we returned to the car and looked for a spot close to the southern Umra home signal, as often standing a little to the side on a hill. Now we had to wait, and wait, as the passenger from Udaipur was delayed.

At 11 a.m. it was finally happening, YDM-4 6720 accelerated nicely smoking with its 52927 Udaipur - Ahmedabad fast passenger.

Umra home signal.

Framed by a potpourri of plants.

At 585.45 m the highest point of the metre gauge line was located here, Udaipur was not at a much lower altitude thus providing convenient climate for Europeans in winter.

We could not follow the line but had to change valleys. There we came across a well-deserved toll road. The road surface was good which did not mean the we had no usual Indian obstacles such as various vehicles, people and animals to overcome. After a fourty minutes drive we reached the well known Ord Viaduct, much photographed already during the steam era. It crossed a body of water with buffalos, monkeys and nice water birds inhabiting the surroundings I tried to include all in my pictures. The monkeys were regularly shooed back into the woods by neighbouring residents.

Last water reserves during the dry season, only replenished by a small brook.

The train, with creek and monkeys on the ground.

Wide angle version.

The panorama including all kinds of fauna and flora.

We continued to Devpura village where we turned onto a dirt road to Padla River Bridge. Here we had to cross the water by ford, then passed green fields and very basic farm buildings. Only the constant chugging of the pump and hoses for irrigation reminded of modern times. Women we encountered were once more dressed colourfully, men rather in Western fashion, one was wearing a Puma t-shirt.

Next the train passed us a final time, through a beautiful panorama stretching from dry mountains in the background to green fields and palm trees in the foreground.

The train departed Padla station with a delay of 1:20 h.


The bridge across the river with adjacent temple.

The panorama, I had fought my path up to this position alone through various clingy shrubs.


A final view with local vegetation.

Now, at 1 p.m., we had our lunch break and waited for the train into the other direction from Ahmedabad. It was supposed to arrive at 3 p.m. but was expected more probably after 4 p.m. due to the delay of the passenger from Udaipur. Harish was constantly looking after us and had brought delicious meals from home, chapati bread and alu, a main course made primarily from potatoes. It tasted especially good as I did not manage to have a proper meal the day before. Afterwards I took a short nap.

During waiting time I could witness work at the farm nearby, for example chopping off branches from a tree top down up in the crown.


Greenery was only possible through irrigation in this arid landscape, I only saw women at work on the fields.

The family living on the neighbouring farm.

During breaks between trains - only two pairs a day - the bridge was used by pedestrians as everywhere in India.

Later a group of girls and a groaning old man emerged from the forest carrying wood on their heads.

At 16:30 finally it was time, a horn in the distance announced the train.


Sabarmati YDM-4 6258 crossing the river hauling 52928 Ahmedabad - Udaipur "Mewar" fast passenger.

Farm view.

Inserted with wood carriers.

The not-so-purple YDM-4, at first I mistook it for having a brown livery. We would find out the reason for the discolouration soon enough.

Wood carrying girl and train.

After a short break the branches were transported on.

We finally raced back to Ord Viaduct.


Monkey below the huge bridge.

Real Thyssen steel.

The others climbed further up, I decided to take the backlit tele shot which proved to be an excellent choice.

Faded info board about the viaduct.

The YDM-4 was now providing an ALCO smoking spectacle which was without equal.

Smoking out of the mountains...


Daily routine for the driver.

View along the metre gauge local, nine coaches in length.

You could only hold on.

The train disappeared into the mountains. That was it regarding train chasing for the day, we would not be able to catch it again in light.

A local shrine as it could be found everywhere.

Instead I wanted to reach my lakeside hotel to capture some of the evening mood. We did not manage the sunset due to heavy Udaipur evening rush hour, but the sky showed plenty of colours as I arrived at Gangaur Ghat (in that case "ghat" refers to a bathing spot at the shore).


Lake Pichola evening mood.

I quickly checked in, said goodbye to my companions until the next day and sprinted to the rooftop terrace restaurant after a short stop at my room. You are invited to enjoy the following views next time together with me... :)
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