This travel blog (which includes beautiful pictures & video as you scroll below) will present you my experience of train journey from Mumbai to Pune – a must take route for any railway fan. Why? Because this route, especially in monsoons, will take you through the most scenic part of India i.e. across the Western Ghats & that to through train. So let’s start the journey.
It’s a rainy early morning as I start from home but that’s what I want so as to absorb the full magic the nature is waiting to offer me. I start my trip from India’s most historic stations i.e. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station. Reached station by 7 AM & the station is, as always, crowded! Rain hasn’t & will never dampen the daily spirit of all those involved in railway industry be it the newspaper vendors, food vendors, porters, cargo movers, railway police & officers, drivers, cleaners, chai-coffee walas & the passengers themselves. However as I settle down at the station, I see that the day is breaking out & the rain has stopped.
My train’s name is Udayan express, starts at 8:05 AM. I head to platform no.16 & board the coach S5 & head to my deliberately booked side berth. The cleanliness at platform & train is still as bad as it used to be earlier. I have opted for sleeper class because I feel the pleasure of hearing the rumbling sound, chugging sound & screeches can best be felt in this class & in addition we also get the open view to the beautiful scenic world outside the window. Not to forget, the feel of breeze brushing & sweeping the skin of your face!
Sleeper class may not be much clean though & it might be unfortunate if you get your seat close to the restroom. The stench will definitely spoil your journey. However I got seat no. 15 side berth. The train is having a delayed start. Its 8:20 & whistle from engine is heard loud enough to indicate the start of journey. It has now left CST & I am very much looking forward to a great journey in the ghats.
The train is guzzling through the sky scrapped Mumbai city & our next station is the crazy Dadar. Its 8:38 AM & here comes Dadar, an enormous crowd of passengers are awaiting this train. After 2 minutes of wait, the train departs at 8:40 AM while I grab a chai costing Rs. 10 from the chaiwala. I see the number of chaiwala have reduced these days in the train. Sipping chai in a moving train is one of my favorite way to enjoy the journey. The train chai makes you feel fresh & alert. A couple have boarded this train, the husband sits in the chair opposite to me. He instantly notices the Reynold pen that I am using to write my blog notes. He mentions that he rarely sees this pen in the hands of people these days even though it is one of the most comfortable to use & less priced one.
As the train is heading towards North Mumbai, it passes through Thane station at 9:04 AM (doesn’t stop here) & within a span of few minutes we see wide open space with cloudy mountains rendering a beautiful background. It’s raining again & I have to close the glass windows forcing my view to outside to be blurred making me feel a little annoyed. We will soon be reaching Kalyan.
Its 9:21 AM & we reach Kalyan. There are lot & lot of passengers who are boarding the train with heavy luggage. There is a minor scuffle happening at the other end of my compartment between a person in 50s and a youth. This senior wants to sit at this window seat while the youth who is the valid passenger for that seat refuses to give his seat. The senior seems to ordering rather than requesting the youth to let go of his coveted window seat. I felt like laughing at this hilarious situation though I didn’t. In the meantime another young passenger sitting opposite to the disputed seat comes forward & gives his window seat to the senior passenger who I feel was acting very childish. However a chance to grab window seat to enjoy the pleasure of the upcoming splendid views of the ghats will bring out child in every human being. Peace now prevails. There are streams of passengers who continue to enter the train. Train leaves Kalyan & I see a women selling hot Idli Vada Chutney, my all time favorite cuisine & its even more exciting to eat during a train journey. However its very risky considering the hygiene usually maintained by these vendors but resisting it will be a blot to the journey’s enjoyment & I eat it. The scenes before Neral are awesome.
We now pass by Neral at 9:55 AM. Extremely beautiful landscape greets us. Here is where the MAGIC BEGINS. Not very far from city yet very far in the scenic lands, Neral offers a delight to the eyes of all passengers in the train. Nothing beats the fresh monsoon atmosphere. Its 10:04 AM & train slows down as it moves further from Neral opening up a heavenly view to the passengers.
It’s 10:07 AM & our train stops at Karjat station & what we see, hot Vada Pavs! Resisting this is again not possible & I risk buying one for Rs. 10. This time I feel its not very tasty as compared to the times I have had earlier. Nevertheless eating hot Vada Pavs in train is again a delight & very much a part of my journey. Rain seems to have stopped & train is moving at normal speed.
Post leaving Karjat & few miles ahead, the first tunnel begins. Its pitch dark & occasionally rain water trickles down the train window. Tunnels are unique as you emerge into a different world after you come out of the other end of tunnel. After the end of tunnel you see a paradise. Train is travelling at an elevated altitude. Its running on the mountains covered with clouds. After 3 tunnels & a while later 4 more tunnels are covered by the train & every time you see train rising to a higher altitude.
I see water trickling down as the train enters tunnel. 9 tunnels done so far. Its 10:30 AM. We pass by a halt named Thakurwadi at 10:33 AM. A solo man signals green flag for train to continue its journey. I feel these signal men positioned at such high altitude halts deserve a lot of praise for carrying out duties even in such conditions. Train has now covered almost 15 tunnels. The view from other side of the window of the train compartment is even more spectacular with deep valley view from higher altitudes. It’s 10:49 AM & our train passes by Monkey hill. A child sitting at the window on opposite side (the disputed seat!), enjoying the view just like me shouts out in excitment as he sees the monkeys.
We pass a very lengthy tunnel & soon after few minutes, its Khandala! Train doesn’t halt here, we see several bungalows decked at hill top covered by clouds & mist. Can anything beat such a view? We soon reach Lonavala at 10:53 AM. Train halts here. We see vendors selling the famous Lonavala chicky. While the train is at Lonavala station I see the famous Chennai Express heading to Mumbai. Our train now leaves Lonavala at 10:59 AM. Rain has stopped completely & sun rays start to brighten the day. Lonavala is at way lower altitude unlike Khandala. I see lot of bungalows across the vast open plains well supported by the mountains at the backdrop. The mountainous part of the journey ends as we move ahead from Lonavala.
Beyond Lonavala we can see our train speeding in parallel to the express highway. I can see several high end cars speeding. It looks so scenic. Train speeding in parallel to competing cars on express highway well supported by semi cloudy mountains with stream of waterfalls.
We pass by Kamshet at 11:11 AM. We must be extremely thankful to the makers of this excellent rail route & to our governments for maintaining this route so well. As a matter of fact, citizens of India bear 43% of cost of our tickets. We must appreciate this subsidy. There are approximately 17 tunnels between Neral and Khandala. At 11:30, we reach Pune suburb, Chinchwad. The vibrant young city of Pune welcomes us. It’s a big station with lot of people. We soon pass by Pimpri, followed by Kasarwadi that passes by at 11:34 AM. The weather in Pune is quite pleasant. Semi cloudy, no rains, bright enough. Khadki is a big station among all Pune suburban stations. We soon reach Shivaji nagar station. All these stations appear clean due to manageable crowd. Post Shivaji nagar station we soon reach Pune Junction where I get down the train eching all the memorable moments. Indeed it feels refreshing!
Finally our magical journey through monsoon cloud ends here. I recommend everyone to at least take this journey once to experience something very exciting & pleasurable. I hope this blog encourages you to take this journey this monsoon season & relish the nature.