Meter gauge to the land of tigers

posted in: Bashing, India, Locomotives, Train Journeys | 0

November 29th, 2017

For the previous post from Mailani Junction click here

After the trip from Pilibhit the Germans decided they were tired of interacting with all the constantly inquisitive and selfie-snapping Indians so decided we should ride in the SLR baggage compartment. This further confused the locals and local RPF but even he didn’t try to stop us, just wrote us off as crazy foreigners. In sharp contrast to the Mailani to Philibit segment, we made incredibly slow progress as we headed north of Mailani no doubt due to track conditions as our train swayed back and forth. After the thrilling high speed run the slow progress made us all quite bored and we decided to stop at Palia Kalan to shoot the counterpart train and get a hotel before later going to the Sharda river bridge to photograph the two evening services. Looking back with hindsight we should have continued on to Nanpara or Bahraich but there’s a reason they say hindight is 20/20…

Palia Kalan is the gateway to the Dudhwa national park so it is more touristy than the surrounding countryside. There’s still not much of a choice in hotels but the Landmark Hotel was quite good although the wifi was basically nonexistent except in the stairwells and restaurant.

The station building at Palia Kalan has an interesting loco featuring a YDM4, strangely the painter chose 6535 which has been in Malaysia for years! (left)

(Below) Mailani bound train 52254 passes the bracket mast semaphore at the end of south end of Palia Kalan. It will be a long slow journey on the bad track to Mailani. 

However upon walking back outside around 1500 to photograph the evening trains we were dismayed to find that there was hardly any sun at all, the thick smog-fog combo made everything look dull and colorless, we instead tried to use the conditions to our advantage and shoot a silhouette of the train passing the home semaphore signal. While waiting the signaller walked down to refill the oil lamps to illuminate the signals in the approaching dusk, a rather incredible sight in 2017. After filling the lamps he beckoned us over to the small switchland and opened the reflector panel to reveal the small oil flame burning inside. 

Thomas had had enough by that point but I decided to make full use of my Indrail pass and take a short ride up to Dudhwa where the train would meet its counterpart. Much to my surprise the train accelerated quickly out of Palia Kalan and into the forest, defying all sense the section in the protected forest is good for 50-60 kph while the section through the open sugar cane planes south of Palia is done at crawling speed. Dudwa is a unique station, located deep within the national forest it can only be reached by rail or forest jeep trail. The protected area around Dudwa is the sole reason for this lines survival as the railway has been unable to recieve permission to convert the line to broad gauge, infact the forest department would like to see the railway removed all together. Almost every arrival is greeted by a group of ladies carrying bundles of illegally cut firewood from the forest, it appears most times the railway turns a blind eye to them.

Then it was back to Palia Kalan where I joined Thomas and Robin, once again it would be a stupidly early morning the next day.

For a video of the days journey click here: 



We stayed two nights at the Landmark Hotel in Palia Kalan, the rooms were clean and the resteraunt offered a good selection of both veg and non veg food. Other than this the only option are more expensive wildlife resort hotels, Palia Kalan is a good base for exploring the metre gauge as well as safari’s in the Dudwa park. The hotel can be booked on below, if planning to visit please consider using the link below as I recieve a small commision at no expense to you

Click here to book

Continue to part 2 (coming soon)