6 Indian Railway Stations With Stories to Tell. Must Visit places for all the Curious Travelers

UNESCO World Heritage Structures, Spectacular Architectures, Colonial Landmarks, Stunning Art Works, Beautiful Gardens, Haunted Hill Top Station, Largest Station Complex of India, Oldest Operational Station, …. Each Station has its own story. Must visit places for a curious traveler.

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai. Photo: Joe Ravi via Wikimedia Commons

1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Maharashtra

Without a doubt CST is Mumbai city’s busiest railway station. But the metropolitan city’s transport hub is also a UNESCO World Heritage structure and one of the best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in India. Gargoyles jut out of the high walls of this 19th-century masterpiece; they often spout water from their mouths during the monsoon. A high-arched ceiling painted with golden stars covers the ticket counter, while statues and carvings of peacocks, tigers, and other wildlife cover walls and crevices. An octagonal ribbed dome atop the structure is its crowning glory. Known as Victoria Terminus until 1996, CST is an arterial city station, one which took almost a decade to build.

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Charbagh Railway Station, Lucknow. Photo: Mohit via Wikimedia Commons

2. Charbagh Railway Station, Uttar Pradesh

The city of nawabs welcomes passengers in style at the splendid red-and-white Charbagh Railway Station. Built in 1914, the sprawling structure blends Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and overlooks a huge garden located outside its front entrance. It was here, under the station’s cupola-studded structure, that Jawaharlal Nehru is said to have first met Mahatma Gandhi in 1916. In aerial views, the structure with its small and large domes resembles a chessboard laid out with pieces.

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Painted by the artists of Ranthambore School of Art, Sawai Modhapur, Rajasthan. Photo: The Better India

3. Sawai Madhopur Railway Station, Rajasthan

When passengers alight at Sawai Madhopur station, gateway to Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park, they’re struck by the bright murals that adorn its walls. There is a giant painting of a banyan tree that covers the entire ceiling of a central hall. It is modelled after a real tree inside the national park, one of the largest in India. A number of forest dwellers inhabit its branches. Paintings of tigers, flocks of birds, and sloth bears cover platform walls and pillars of the small station, offering a colourful peek into life in the jungle. Painted by the artists from the Ranthambore School of Art, the spectacular murals capture the hearts of all who visit this National Tourism Award-winning station.

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The Beautiful Barog Railway Station. Photo: Mridula Dwivedi via Travel Tales from India

4. Barog Railway Station, Himachal Pradesh

This little railway station on the Kalka Shimla Railway, part of a UNESCO World Heritage list, has a colourful history. Built in 1903 by a Colonel Barog, it has Scottish-style gabled roofs and is surrounded by stunning mountain views. The station lies at the mouth of a tunnel which the army man had also commissioned. He went about it in an unusual way, starting excavations at both ends with the intention of meeting in the middle. A miscalculation prevented that from happening, and the disappointed colonel shot himself inside the incomplete tunnel and was buried near it. Not surprisingly, tales of ghosts have haunted the station ever since. A new tunnel was later completed with the help of a local holy man called Baba Bhalku. Today, the station and the tunnel are popular stops on this heritage route.

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Started in June 1865, Royapuram Sation is the oldest operational railway station in India. Photo: RailNews

5. Royapuram Railway Station, Tamil Nadu

The very first train to run in South India rolled out of Chennai’s Royapuram station in the monsoon of 1856 and travelled to the town of Arcot in Vellore district. Royapuram was southern India’s first station, in what was then known as the Madras Presidency. The original structure still stands today, making it the oldest functional railway station in the country. The simple red-and white colonial building with grand Corinthian pillars is a heritage structure. The station underwent extensive restoration in 2005.

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With 23 platforms, Howrah Junction Railway Station is the Largest Railway Complex of India. Photo: Lovedimpy via Wikimedia Commons

6. Howrah Junction, West Bengal

With a mind boggling 23 platforms, this is one of the busiest stations in India. A melee of bookshops, tea stalls, and fastfood stands provide succour to passengers. This is one of the oldest stations in India, and the first train from Howrah ran on 15 August 1854, to Hooghly. It was the proverbial feather in the cap for British engineers, representing a new era in the colonial dream of expansion. Located on the banks of the Hooghly River, with the Howrah bridge leading up to its cherry-red facade, the station has starred in many a poster shot promoting the state. Its architecture is a mix of Romanesque and traditional Bengali styles, very much in sync with its surroundings.

Total 274 passenger trains Start/End/Pass through Howrah Railway Station. Total 1219 Stations are directly connected to Howrah Railway Station via these 274 passenger trains. Its twenty-three platforms handle over six hundred trains each day, serving more than a million passengers, making it the one of the busiest railway platforms in India . It is served by two zones of the Indian Railways: Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway.

– Natgeotraveller India (Appeared in October 2016 as “Whistle Stop”.)

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Rural Tourism – Myths and Reality

In the last one year that we have been working in Rural Tourism, we have come across many questions from our travelers that makes me understand the need to answer them on a public forum. Rural Tourism is still a new concept in India, and, as expected there are many questions around it. Here are answers to come common questions or rather myths –

1. Rural tourism is unsafe: If someone was destined to get mugged, it can happen in a flashy metropolitan as well. Over the last two years since I have been traveling to villages, I have found them safer than the cities. I have grown up in Delhi and can clearly see the difference in safety, hospitality, warmth and a sense of community in a city and in a village. We have had solo female travelers, couples, children and families who have felt safer in villages.

It also depends on the organization you are traveling with and the amount of ground work they have done with locals before sending you. Usually, it takes months if not years to train locals in tourism and its aspects.

Tip: Check the authenticity and professionalism of the organization you are traveling with. Look for their sustainability and training practices.

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Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

jungle-walks-rural-travelIndians also prefer it in large numbers and find it safe

2. Rural tourism = Discomfort: Rural does not always mean a dilapidated shack where you will have to sleep on the floor under the light of an oil lamp. In the last point I spoke about training. A responsible organization will always train locals on sanitation. Emphasis will be given on clean beds and washrooms. Rural tourism is a great way to give sustainable living to locals. And cleanliness is one of the basic requirements that any responsible Rural Travel company will take into account.

Tip: Check the facilities and photographs and ask your questions freely

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Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

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I find such places more peaceful and clean to stay at rather than a hotel

3. Rural tourism costs nothing, so why charge for it: What I mentioned in last point about sustaining local communities brings me to the next point on charging. Most of the Rural population is currently being trained under western education system on learning computers and English and moving to cities. As a result cities are over burdened and villages are getting empty. Rural tourism is not different from any other form of tourism where you pay. The only difference is, your money goes directly to a local family and immediate community. A responsible community based tourism initiative will always give entrepreneurial opportunities to locals so that they do not have to migrate to cities. As a result, many art forms, languages, music, dances, and cultures are preserved. Rural tourism has the power to make these aspects an asset rather than a burden.

4. World is moving towards urbanization, why villages?: We are not against urbanization. It is just that we see the impacts of it in the form of cut-throat competition which leads to increasing crime, struggle for limited resources, degrading levels of cleanliness, impacts on our health and stress levels and a constant question in everyone’s mind as to who they really are. After having lost connection to our roots, we are neither completely western nor Indian. Moreover, we are loosing warmth and sensitivity towards our people, trust, love and responsibility towards our environment. Mahatma Gandhi once said – “The future of India lies in its villages”. This does not mean we remain backward, uneducated or poor. Everyone has the right to live a beautiful life. But only till the time that lifestyle does not begin to take a toll on those very humans it was meant for.

Rural Tourism is a tool to create a balance between urbanization and Rural lifestyle. This is very important for us to sustain.

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Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

5. The food and water will be below standard and unhygienic: Really? These days we are putting water purifiers in our homes and depending on mineral water because our rivers are too dirty to supply clean drinking water. Fruits and vegetables supplied in market are rubbed with oil to make them shine and injected with artificial colors to make them look beautiful. Our children are getting dependent of medications at an early age. Cancer has become as common as headache. The air we breathe in cities is so poisonous that many species of birds that once thrived have now either migrated or become extinct. Our children fall ill if they are left to play on a street. With each passing day, they are getting dependent on air-conditioned homes only.

On the other hand, I have seen 60 year old women climb a mountain daily and still manage to stay fit without any medicine. They do not need cosmetics to look beautiful or to prevent their skin from sagging. I don’t suggest that we should leave our homes and all migrate to villages. The point is, we are living in a myth. I have had some of the best organic food in villages cooked in homemade spices and butter. I have drank water from rivers and waterfalls and have never fallen ill. And I have played in mud and it only increased my immunity.

Rural Tourism is a way to bridge this gap. We do not want you to leave cities. We want you to become sensitive towards environment, our impacts on it and on how we can become responsible.

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Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

6. What is the difference between you and a Travel Agent: No difference except that – we give our heart and soul in making this country a better place to live using travel as a medium. We design training for villagers to enable them to earn a living from their own skill. For us, building relationships is more important than just getting a cheque from a customer. And that most of us left our plush corporate jobs to do this work.

Author: GAURAV BATNAGAR  

Reblogged from: THE FOLK TALES

 

Diary of a Traveller — Discover

“He measures time by the difficulty of the terrain, the wind, and the mood of the weather.” Diary of a Traveller is the site of Zahariz Khuzaimah, a nomadic Malaysian adventurer, photographer, and filmmaker.

via Diary of a Traveller — Discover