When we got down at the Hua Hin Railway Station our guide Joey told us, “you have 15 minutes to spend here. I replied, “you give me an hour at a place where I wish to spend 15 minutes and now you are giving me 15 minutes where I would wish to spend an hour!” He said, “OK let us bargain, you can have 25 minutes!” Such is life! Here I was at a quaint and beautiful place and yet I had only 25 minutes to spend there! Hua Hin Railway Station is a major tourist attraction. It has the feel of the small stations we have on Kalka Shimla Railway Line.
The railway line to Hua Hin was built in 1920s. Around the same time King Rama VI built his summer palace in Hua Hin. It was named Klai Kang Won which means ‘far from worries’. Hua Hin is a functional railway station, you can easily catch a train to Bangkok. Or if you fancy going the other way, the trains would take you to Sungai Kolok on Thailand-Malaysia border. Unfortunately, I could catch no trains from this beautiful station. The structure on the left hand side is the Royal Waiting Room. I am not sure if the royals visit it anymore but it looks royal indeed.
Even tough I could not catch a train, I saw a train arriving on the station which I was told was Bangkok bound. Trains used to hold such a fascination in our childhood. My elder nephew wanted to be an engine driver when he was young, it is another matter that he became an engineer when he grew up! Maybe it was a small part of that childhood fascination that made me run to the front of the train so that I could click the entire train!
I liked the train all the more because it was not packed, it actually looked inviting with so many empty seats, but then I had 25 minutes in all to spend at the station! I would have loved to hop in and get down at the next station, at least!
The waiting area was clean and once again quite empty after the train left. It exactly looked like a place where I would love to sit down with a novel and wait for the next train! I remember seeing a cafe at the station as well, but once again that 25 minute deadline was still there and I was already on its last minutes.
I was quite fascinated with the station bell as there was a picture of it in my hotel room. The picture in my room was quite beautiful. So I had to click it myself. Now of course my picture is no where as beautiful as the one that was there in the hotel room but still I kind of like it.
By the time I was clicking this picture I could see Joey hanging in the far horizon. I thought it to be prudent to make a move so that he would not have to come to the near horizon to drag me away from the scene!
PS. I was invited to Thailand by TAT New Delhi
There is not much to write about Gurgaon Railway Station. It is a small, nondescript place with just two platforms. To enter the station one has to jostle with the autos and rickshaws. The ticket counter and the adjoining waiting area always look dusty. The people sitting in the waiting area have a patient look about them.
I use it because all Rajasthan bound trains have a two minutes halt at Gurgaon. This means we don’t have to go to Delhi to catch the train or to get down. It is a substantial saving on the taxi fare as well as time. I have also seem Ahmadabad Rajdhani Express making a halt at Gurgaon, which makes me believe that Gujarat bound trains also stop here. The Ajmer Shatabdi goes from platform no.1 and comes back at platform no. 2. I am usually there to catch this train. Of course local trains ply on this route too.
This time when I was catching the Ajmer Shatabdi on a hot summer morning in May, I noticed the Amaltas in full bloom at the Gurgaon Railway Station. It added a dash of color to an otherwise bleak scenario. There is not a bit of color otherwise to be seen.
And while I was noticing flowers, I saw the huge banyan tree on platform two for the first time, even though I have been to Gurgaon Railway Station at least a dozen of times!
I am wondering if a tree planting drive would make this station a cooler place. I would love to be a part of such a drive but then the mere thought of talking to government authorities gives me shivers. I have seen railway stations like Barog which have lovely flowers and a few trees right at the station. Gurgaon could go the same way, but I have no clue how to initiate such a dialogue.
Thought of doing a series on the railway stations I have clicked within India. Mostly we are either in a hurry to get onto a train or to get out of the station to reach somewhere. But sometimes I do manage to click pictures. For example in January this year I was catching a train back to Delhi from Jaisalmer. I saw Palace on Wheels at the station. So I dumped my luggage in the assigned coach, we were in a group so others could watch it. And then I ran to click pictures!
I quite like Kalka Railway Station, it is small and beautiful and it means you are near the hills.
Then there is this cute mascot (Appu is it?) at Kalka railway Station.
This is just after the entrance to the New Delhi Railway Station, from the Ajmeri Gate side.
This is a cute engine that you can see in front of the Dehradoon Railway Station.
These rock garden style images can be seen at the main entrance to Chandigarh Railway Station
This is the small Balugaon Railway Station in Odisha, quite close to Barkul the getaway to Chilika Lake.
The last image for today is of the Bharatpur Railway Station, my latest trip of 2012. Took this one from my mobile phone. I bought the mobile because of the 5 megapixel camera!
But the best station that I have stayed at is Barog at Himachal Pradesh.
Barog Railway Station is a beautiful spot on the Kalka Shimla toy train route. The toy train route is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. We learned that it is possible to rent a room on the railway station itself and stay there!
So my two nephews Dilip, Sunil (also known as Brat 1 and 2) and I headed out to Barog. We reached Kalka by the Kalka Mail. We then took the local toy train up to Barog.
At Barog we asked the station master for a room. He was utterly confused about us and asked me for an identity proof. Only after that he gave me Shivalik Cottage which is huge but not well maintained. For breakfast we had the famous cutlets of the Barog Railway Station.
Cutlets at the Barog Railway Station
We happily stayed at the railway station for 3 nights. My nephews told me if I was not there they would have stayed at the platform itself!
The station looks like it came out of a picture postcard with its white and blue buildings and beautiful flowers. We could watch all the toy trains passing by.
In the evenings we would go walking up to the next station Solan. There were plenty of birds around the railway station. Food was at a nearby Dhaba.
There are many tunnels at the Kalka Shimla route. The Barog Tunnel is the longest (1144 meters/3752 feet) on the route. An English engineer by the name of Barog was in charge of its construction. However, the tunnel built by him is at a distance of 1 km. The two ends of that tunnel didn’t meet. He was fined Rupee 1 (.02 cents or so) for this mistake and due to shame he committed suicide. The current tunnel was built by H.S. Harrington with the blessings from local hermit Malku between 1900 and 1903.
On the second day while Sunil was fast asleep, Dilip and I were walking around the station. We asked a station employee if there were any more trains coming? When he answered in the negative we told him we were going to cross the tunnel on foot.
So off we went inside the tunnel and soon it became dark. I switched on the light on my cell phone. Dilip with his super sensitive ears soon said to me, “Bua I can hear a train coming.” I rubbished him initially but he persisted. I moved the light around and saw an arch right at our hand. We stood inside it. And sure enough a train crossed us!
Dilip vehemently refused to walk any further. So, we headed back and went to the tea shop at the railway station. Three other people started talking to us. One of them asked me, “so what happened ma’am?” And I repeated the above story to him!
He said the station master was extremely upset about our being inside the tunnel with a train arrival scheduled. The tea shop owner said we could let the train go by if we stood flat against the wall! The tourists were of the view that it would result in an accident! Dilip and I were in anyway no mood to check out which version is true! But then every small child in 5 km of Barog must have crossed that tunnel!
So next time if you wish to stay at a railway station you know that you have to go to Barog. But be very careful if you wish to cross the Barog tunnel!