Monday, 24 September 2012

Pune to Mumbai on Train

23 September 2012

All the Mumbaikars and Punekars who are born between 1900- 1980 have a special place for the train journey between Mumbai and Pune in their hearts. A Marathi song written about the train Deccan Queen summarises it all, the excitement during the journey and the love which passengers have for this route.
The route used to pass through marshlands near the creeks of Mumbai, paddy fields near Karjat, the mountain pass called Bor Ghat in the Sahyadri range, the hill stations of Khandala and Lonavala, flat terrains on the backdrop of hills near Talegaon and crossed the rivers near Pune. Apart from these exciting natural features covered in short period of only three and half hours, there was some other fun to be had on the route. After getting away from crowds of Mumbai, first major stop was Karjat where people came out to buy spicy Batatawada which they used eat in the train while it passed through the majestic mountains. If it was a rainy season then there was additional pleasure to be had for the eyes because of presence of waterfalls. After coming up the pass, there was cool and refreshing air to be had at Khandala with the additional fun of having to pass through clouds in case it was rainy season. As the train moved more towards Pune afterwards, dry hard rocks, grassy plains, Sorghum fields, small houses and simple temples built in traditional style became prominent.
This change itself was bringing the excitement. The train was linking two different cultures, money making Mumbai to academic, historical Pune. Each station in between had its own identity.
Yesterday I made this journey after so many days to realise that majority of the towns on the route are now lost in concrete and dust. The Batatawada at Karjat and Chikki at Lonavala are no longer their own speciality but can be found at any place on the route. The major site at the hill pass is the mega highway which tries to belittle rocky mountain peaks. 
Lost is the identity as well as beauty of the route. It has became another mundane journey like some local train in Pune or Mumbai. The excitement on the route is long gone and so is the song of Deccan Queen.
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