Rajasthan is the very essence of India. It’s impregnable forts and magnificent palaces, rise up imperiously from the desert landscape like fairy-tale mirages of a bygone era. And as enchanting as that maybe , there is more to Rajasthan than its seemingly timeless wonders. For thru it runs one of the last few meter gauge railway lines left in India. Frozen in time till gauge conversion relegates it to the history books forever …..
Rajasthan lies to the North West of India , bordering Pakistan. The majority of it’s railway network in the 1990s was meter gauge, but most of these lines have since been converted to the 5 ft 6 inch Broad Gauge. The line between jaipur and churu is one of the last surviving meter gauge routes left in this region.
An extensive photo gallery can be viewed here…
Below is a video on YouTube….
Our journey begins in the Pink City of Jaipur, with it’s numerous forts and palaces …
The meter gauge tracks have been relegated to the north west corner of Jaipur station. All that is left are a couple of stabling lines and an island platform
The trains are well patronized and a sizable number of passengers use them daily…
It was of course very different in the 1990s when Jaipur was a meter gauge junction and most trains were steam hauled.
The station of Ringus was once a bustling meter gauge junction. Subsequent gauge conversion of the line between Phulera and Rewari resulted in a dual gauge junction with two broad gauge and three meter gauge tracks.
A dual gauge diamond crossing to the south west of the station forms the route from Jaipur to Sikar.
The station can get quite busy at times with arrivals and departures on both the meter and broad gauge lines.
The next station after Ringus was Baori Thikria. Many trains do not stop here and the token exchange then takes place on the fly…
The home shed to all the locomotives was Phulera but after gauge conversion and the subsequent isolation of the line, the small diesel shed at Sikar is now home for the 12 locomotives running on the line.
The fort of Laxmangarh lies 30kms north west of Sikar. It was built in 1862 and is unique in the world of fort architecture as it is built on scattered pieces of rock.
A cutting outside Laxmangarh, provides a nice spot to view the trains and i chanced upon a light loco heading west …
It returned about an hour later with a dead loco and it’s load which had obviously broken down somewhere further up the line.
The town of Fathepur Shekhawati lies further up the line and was the location of the 1985 movie – Ghulami. Many scenes with YP locomotives were shot here.
Moving further north west one comes up on the town of Ramgarh Shekhawati.
We are now in the middle of the Shekhawati region which is known for it’s fresco painting’s on the havelis (mansions) of the businessmen of this region.
Many Chhatris also dot the town. Chhatris are built on the cremation sites of wealthy or distinguished individuals and are commonly used to depict the elements of pride and honor in Maratha and Rajput architecture..
A Churu bound passenger rounds the curve into Ramgarh Shekhawati station….
A rare yellow armed repeater signal is located just before the curve. It signals to any inbound train the aspect of the home signal, which is out of sight due to the tight curve in a cutting.
Another curve ahead of Mahansar also provided a nice location ….
A late running service to Churu held us up outside Mahansar for long but the wait in the end was well worth it, for it proved to us that there was still a lot of fire left in those YDM4s.
Just past Bissau , I came across a concrete sleeper casting factory. Maybe the sleepers for the imminent gauge conversion would be sourced from here.
Churu Junction forms the end of the line for the meter gauge line from Jaipur.
A Meter Gauge Accident Relief train is stabled on one of the lines. It probably does not see much action due to the reduced meter gauge network of today.
In the meantime, substantial Broad Gauge freight traffic winds it way thru Churu…
As imminent conversion to Broad Gauge looms large over the line from Jaipur to Churu, the line continues to serve the region admirably before it rides off one last time into the history books.