Saturday, January 10, 2009

The engine that pushes

This is first of a two part series on a trip to Ooty (Udhagamandalam) in Tamil Nadu.

From my place to the Satellite bus stand is going over to another corner of the city. My bus broke down in the middle of nowhere after starting from Shivaji Nagar bus stand. On top of it, we [Mother and I] had boarded the wrong bus!! The bus conductor, however, was the best I have ever met. Had it not been for his presence of mind the Ooty trip might not as well have happened. He stopped a bus passing by and requested the driver to drop us at a particular signal [he didn't give us the name of the signal]. From the signal we finally [after over 45 mins since the bus broke down] got an autorickshaw.

Poor Vish was in as much jitters as we were. I kept praying that other members of our team should not have to suffer on my account and requested Vish to carry on if we did not make it on time to the bus stand. But we did!! :-) Just 5 mins before the bus was to leave we reached. Vish had the presence of mind [everyone except me seems to have had tons of it!!] to get coupons for two cups of coffee for Mamma and I [We so badly needed that coffee!! Thank you Vish]. All of us boarded the bus and settled in.


The stopover in Coimbatur was a very short one. We just walked over to the central bus stand to catch the bus for Mettupalayam. There are buses to Mettupalayam every 5 to 10 mins. The buses are in decent condition and the bus driver and conductor were very helpful people. The journey was completed in 1 hour 30 mins. It was some festival that day and lots of women dressed in red saree were seen everywhere. But they got down much before Mettupalayam.


From Mettupalayam bus stand to the railway station is a 5 mins walk. You just follow the straight road. Sights and smells of the morning could be seen and felt everywhere.

Our tickets were still waitlisted. We pleaded that we be let in the train. After all we had come to Mettupalayam for the Toy Train experience. The railway police and the guard were very helpful. They suggested that we wait for sometime till the other passengers are all seated. After a 15 [ loooooooooooong ] minute wait they suggested they can accomodate us but it would be in the compartment right next to the engine. Which is just what we wanted!! We couldn't wait to see the smoke billowing out of the engine and hear the whistle of the engine and of course all the whoosh that goes with it!!! A British couple were already seated in the compartment [ we later found that they had come packed for a long trek in Ooty ].

The engine that pushes the train

This is the engine that pushes the train! As most of the journey is uphill the engine is situated at the end of the train instead of the usual front of the train. The rythemic khat-khata-khat--khat-khata-khat--khat-khata-khat is mesmerising. Starting at 7:00 a.m. from Mettupalayam, the train reaches Ooty around 12:00 p.m. The cost of 8 people for a 5 hour [one of a lifetime journeys ride] works out to a whopping Rs.264!!!! [Yes, that is right ;-) ].

The "Toy Train" [as the Nilgiri Passenger is fondly known] stops every 45 mins to fill water for the steam engine. We had started clicking in the moving train. Some of the photos are proof to that :-) Every time the train stopped people came out and started taking photos. Often times, we had to be chided into the train by the guard who threatened smilingly he would leave us there if we did not scoot for the train. Half-heartely we moved into the train and started clicking rightaway!!

Twice the train stops near a bridge. Once, there is a brook flowing down below. The scenery here is amazing. Very dramatic. Our British couple decided to get some romantic advantage of the surroundings [ That which we Indians are willing to see in a movie, we are not ready to see in real life!! ].

There are hills, brooks, flowers, trees growing in the strangest of manners, bridges, tunnels and tons of smoke all through the way!! It is a journey of a life time. Don't miss it. Whatever your age do take the toy train once. Experience the ethereal moments that cannot be explained in words. The moments have to be felt, lived.

Toy train Bio-data

Till the moment we touched Ooty it was heaven... and then we were thrust down on earth to face the brutalities of a popular hill station.

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1 comment:

Stone said...

I'm feeling jealous now :-(