“such a river of life as nowhere else exists in all the world … the backbone of all Hind.”
This week’s gripping news is that, in response to the Trans-Siberian site discovered last week, I’ve made an accurate map of the entire route.
Click on “view larger map“, the whole route is on several pages. Click on “view in Google earth” and pick which train you want to view, I recommend Jammu-Udhampur. That’s the southerly section of the Kashmir railway which is attached to the main network. When this line is complete it’s going to be pretty gobsmacking. But don’t hold your breath, it’s years off. The whole GCIRC route takes several days to view at a resolution where you can at least see the path of the track.
It’s become apparent, looking at the accurate map, that our “stick to the sides” ruling, see “About”, has gone west, or in this case south, for our northern section from Jammu to the “neck of Assam” at Jalpaiguri. However, it turns out we’ll be covering a good 500 miles within waving distance of the famous Grand Trunk Road. GT forms part of the Golden Quadrilateral, of which we’ll be doing the south eastern side in it’s entirety from Kolkata to Chennai.
We will be passing ever so near to the Taj, a mere 20 klicks from the line, but you’ll have to throw yourself from a moving train if you want to get off at Tundla, our nearest station to Agra which is one of the GT’s famous cities. Another famous Grand Trunk Road city we’ll be passing through, but not getting off at, is Varanasi. Banares is known as the “The City of Temples”, as is Madurai which we’ll also pass through. It is also probably the oldest continually inhabited city in India . So if you are looking for a sub section of the tour to do, you could jump on or off at Mughal Sarai Junction on the south bank of the great river just outside town. We also pass through another temple laden city in Amritsar at the western end of the GT within India, where we actually get to have a proper look about. And of course we have a morning in Kolkata, at the eastern end of the GT (officially the GT ran from Peshawar in Pakistan to Calcutta)
In other developments, we’ve just discovered Tata Jagrity Yatra, which is a wonderful project run by Tata with a theme not too dissimilar to ours. They’ve got a massive company behind them and a network to boot, but we’ll be doing half as much mileage again in two-thirds of the time. It usually runs a few weeks before we will be setting off. It’s interestingly disturbing that, despite hiring their own train, (TATA is of course India”s Number 1 Company) it was 5 hours late turning up at Mumbai Central for them. This doesn’t bode well for our scheduled services, but my running stats of late are remarkably encouraging, or suspiciously optimistic, depending on how cynical you want to be.
If you like modern Indian pop music TJY have got a nice jig called Jagrity Yatra Geet . Alternatively you can listen to the KLF if you’re looking for some early 90s retro train oriented nonsense.