My first visit to Pandharpur – Part 1

My primary purpose of this trip was to explore the Kurduvadi – Pandharpur line (secondary purpose being darshan at the famous Vitthal Temple:D). I could not get reservation in the direct train to Pandharpur(51027 CSTM-PVR fast passenger) because of the weekend rush, so I instead chose to book a ticket to KWV for Saturday May 13 in 22139 CSTM-SUR superfast (which used to be 11305 CSTM-SUR express and slower by a full 2.5 hours not so long ago!:D), which would depart from Dadar at 21 37 and reach KWV the next early morning at 04 03; from where I would take the unreserved 11309 SUR-Miraj express to PVR(converted recently to a regular train from a holiday special:D). This train would depart KWV at 8 am and reach PVR in less than an hour’s time. On 13th, I left my home by 20 20 and took an auto to Vikhroli. There I saw 12289 CSTM-NGP Duronto express ripping past with Ajni WAP7 30266  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOVk64CjBc4, followed by 17411 CSTM-KOP Mahalaxmi express cruising past with a KYN WCAM3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeW7jGdABa8.

At Dadar there was more action, as 12533 LJN-CSTM Pushpak express arrived on Platform 6 with offlink SRC WAP4 25042. 12107 Mumbai Latur superfast (running combined with the newly introduced tri-weekly 12143 Mumbai Bidar superfast) came to PF 4 behind KYN WDM3D 11359. Later, my train came on PF 5 led by Pune WDG3A 14814 (covered with dust and grime as is common for Pune diesels:p). My coach B2 seemed to be one of the coaches manufactured in the last few years – it had a red carpet passage, bio-toilets, plug points for charging in all bays and maroon brown rexine cushions that were rather pleasing to the eyes:). I climbed to my UB, and slept soon after my tickets were checked. I had set an alarm to wake me up at 03 30, but felt too sleepy then and napped again for a while after resetting the alarm to 03 45. Then finally I got up and brushed my teeth before sitting on the vacant coach attendant’s seat near the door. We reached KWV (PF 2) at 04 16, 13 mins late, and I got down along with a family.

I then made my way to the General waiting room in order to catch up on some lost sleep. I observed 22139 depart at 04 22, and then 12701 CSTM-HYB Hussainsagar express pull in 7 mins later on the same platform behind KYN WDM3D 11471. I tried various positions while sitting, and finally managed a broken sleep of about 2 hours(putting pressure on my left elbow in the process:D). 11309 arrived on PF 1 at 07 23(32 mins early) behind Pune WDM3D 11384 (LHF).

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Meanwhile, I took the FOB towards the exit, in order to reach the ticket counter and buy a General 2nd class express ticket to PVR. There were two queues, and I stood in the one on the right. Soon, chaos descended on the scene; just as announcements for 12158 SUR-Pune Hutatma express were made. People madly broke queue and screamed at the poor clerk to issue them tickets for Hutatma express. Behind me, there were people waiting patiently in the queue as usual; and ahead of me there were people barging in from all directions in their desperation to get tickets!:eek: A few people, after getting their tickets, madly rushed in the direction of the platforms; and brushed against me in the process- I pushed them a bit forcefully, peeved as I was by their refusal to stand in a proper queue and also to brush past people as though they were the Lords!:mad: I was also dragged into an argument by an elderly passenger behind me. He was complaining about my bag being in the way, to which I angrily replied that he could tell those passengers in front to form a proper queue. He retorted back that I could just throw them out. Anyway, I ignored him and finally managed to get a ticket – was really keen to escape this mad place ASAP!

I then headed to PF 1, where 11309 was waiting; and easily got a side window seat (similar to side berth except that there was a luggage rack instead of a berth above:D) facing the track side, in the 3rd coach from the loco. At 08 01, the WDM3D sounded a long toot of its HT horn (‘praam’). Then departure bells were sounded, followed by the traditional ALCO style LT horn (‘baaam’) which was sheer music to the ears:). We finally pulled out at 08 02, after a long halt of 39 mins. We curved to the left, away from the line towards Daund.

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Our loco started notching up, as we curved further to the left.

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The HT horn and then LT horn were sounded as the WDM3D started chugging furiously and accelerating – the LT horn and chugging were a real treat to the ears:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mX2sWtBsJQ. I could hear some flat wheel sounds mildly as well. The surroundings were mostly dry, but we did pass a variety of fields. There were a lot of cow sheds, cattle grazing, huts and cottages, under-bridges over roads, huge piles of hay; and huge wells for irrigation. There were also a lot of curves. I noticed that a ‘chis-chis-chis-chis’ sound was coming from the tracks when we were at full speed – I have observed this phenomenon in a few other routes (notably the RU-AJJ section) as well, but have not understood the cause for it. We passed Laul – it was a ghost station with only 1 line, and then pulled into Modnimb at 08 22 for a scheduled halt. Here a passenger arrived behind Pune WDM3D 11360. Quite a few people boarded here – mainly ladies with kids. To my delight, the classic LT horn was sounded, followed by the HT horn, and then again the LT horn;); as we pulled out after a halt of 3 minutes.

We passed Ashti, which was yet again a ghost station with a single line. By now we were moving at a rapid pace, and the ‘chis-chis-chis-chis’ sound was accompanied by oscillations. There were more cow sheds, cattle and wells for irrigation. There were also rows of small trees, and coconut trees in the distant background on the right. We passed a green canal, before Babhulgaon; which was predictably a ghost station with a single line:D. Then there was a grove of dry teak trees (mostly with leaves having fallen) and a signal at ‘Caution’ before a TSR of 80 kmph. This was followed by the Willingdon bridge (now simply ‘Bhima bridge’) over the perennial Bhima river, which was truly a wonderful sight:).

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The typical ‘dhadak-dhadak’ sound over the bridge was also music to the ears. Then there was another TSR of 80 kmph, followed by a lot of huts and settlements. Then there were some shrubs and drainage/sewage before the Telenor office on the right marked the arrival of Pandharpur at 08 50, 5 mins early. From Modnimb to Pandharpur, we had covered 31 km in 25 mins – at an average of around 74 kmph :). There was a huge crowd here.

Here are some pics of the picturesque Pandharpur station!

Hard work by staff (as shown by this man in pic ;)) to keep the station spotlessly clean!

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You can see the station’s altitude (463.3 m above MSL) as well as the fire buckets to complete the look!

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The temple-like structure at the top of the station was impressive.

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The next 3 pics were taken in the evening.
Have a look at the almost completely deserted station, taken from Platform 2

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Bird’s eye view of the station, taken from the FOB. The trees and the absence of catenary structures combine to make it very scenic!:)

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The huge banyan tree not only provides shelter from the sun but also enhances the beauty of the station :). There is also a big ground where boys play cricket, in the top left.

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Will cover Part 2 later. Thanks in advance for reading patiently so far!;)

Technical Abbreviations

LHF – Long Hood (of the diesel engine) Forward

FOB – Foot Over Bridge

HT – High Tone

LT – Low Tone

ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and a class of diesel engines of the 1960s)

TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction

MSL – Mean Sea Level

Station Codes
CSTM – Mumbai CST
PVR – Pandharpur
KWV – Kurduvadi
SUR – Solapur
NGP – Nagpur
KOP – Kolhapur
KYN – Kalyan
SRC – Santragachchi
HYB – Hyderabad
RU – Renigunta
AJJ – Arakkonam

LJN – Lucknow Junction (North Eastern Railway)

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