Vizag – Araku Train
Vizag – Araku Train
~ Broad Gauge Mountain Railway ~
As our Kirandul Fast Passenger made its way through the numerous tunnels and bridges I made a desperate attempt to capture the train meandering train on my camera. Sadly my SLR camera (Vivitar v3600s) was too big to pass through the grilled window of the train.
Suddenly I noticed my wife clicking photos with her newly purchased point and shoot digital camera (Olympus Fe310). I grabbed the camera and it easily passed out of the window grill and captured the Kirandul Fast Passenger making a huge loop with the lush green Eastern Ghats in the background.
Our journey to the lush green Araku Valley started a couple of hours early from the Vizag station. We have taken the rail cum bus tour of the Araku Valley conducted by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Definitely the highlight of the journey is the remarkable train journey between Vizag and Araku.
In India most of the mountain railway runs on narrow and meter gauge. But the Vizag – Araku train exception and also has the distinction of housing the highest broad guage train station in India.
Located North West of Vizag the beautiful valley is connected by a 150 km long rail track. An engineering marvel the rail tracks meanders through the Eastern Ghats passing through 58 tunnels and 84 bridges.
The train follows the Chenni – Howrah line till Kottavalas from where it takes a left diversion towards the Eastern Ghats. After about two hours of journey through the lush green coastal plains merges into the even greener Eastern Ghats, marking the starting points of tunnels and bridges. The line meanders past lush green valleys, towering cliffs and thundering water falls, passing through several tunnels some couple of meters long while several others stretching over 100 meters. The longest tunnel has length of 520 meters.
Through out the hill region of this line patrolling staffs of Indian Railway give clearance to all passing by trains as they continuously monitor the track for any land slide, tree falling or any other type of damages. The train also passes Bora Caves and a small plaque located inside the Bora Caves shows the exact point through which the rail line pass.
Most of the time valley falls in right side of the train while going towards Araku from Vizag and waterfalls remain at left side. We were lucky to get a seat on the right side thus had a opportunity of having great views of the lush green valleys but missed out on the waterfalls.
Just before reaching Araku the train stops at the Shimiliguda Station, located at a height of 996.32 feet it is the highest station on the Vizag – Araku route and formally the highest broad gauge rail station in India. I was aware of the fact and was out at the door to have a snap of the Shimiliguda station. Luckly out coach stopped straight in front of the Shimiliguda station board which not only had the station name but also the height 996.3 mts above Mean Sea Level (MSL). This time also my wife’s point and shoot digital camera came handy. We were soon in Araku station ending a memorial train journey.
Note: Now the highest broad gauge railway station in India happens to be Qazigund (1722) meters on the Jammu – Srinagar railway.
For more information read my Vizag Araku Travelogue