9:30 am Sitting on a bench at Baijnath Paprola (again)
I had a relaxed, although early, start to the day. I left the Hotel Uhl at about 6:30 and walked halfway to the station before a young man on a motor cycle stopped and offered me a ride. I was in no rush but why not? We cruised through the generally deserted streets, with my driver calling out to the few people in evidence that we were going to Canada (we had already been through the ‘your country?’ routine). I soon realised that this ride was as much for his own entertainment and prestige as it was for my convenience but, again, why not?
This crane doesn’t look like it’s been used for a while. How long? Maybe over 23 years?
It doesn’t look very different now from then. But then it was a clear day, and I could and did enjoy mountain views from the train. Not so today, unfortunately.
Then we were off, on time… Not that many passengers, about one-third ‘full.’
By one-third full, I mean that one third of the seats were occupied. Indian trains are never full (in unreserved class, as I now was), even when all the seats are taken and all the standing room has been taken. More can be, and are, squeezed in. Always. (Passengers traveling with reserved seats are spared this; if you don’t have a ticket with a seat number on it, you’re not allowed in that carriage.)
The train has just had an extra three carriages added and departs at 10:50. Presumably, the train leaves Joginder Nagar early to accommodate those that use the train to commute to work. Too bad, I could have use that extra two hours in bed. But it is a relaxed and none too onerous a place to hang out for a while. Nowhere for breakfast, though. Just a tea stall on the platform. I had complimentary tea here a couple of days ago – due to being on an ‘all-India tour’ – but have to pay my way today.
1.45 pm Kapar Lahar
Rolling along a little more quickly now, continuing to lose elevation, pine forest and terraced fields but no mountains. It’s more crowded now, standing room only for a stop or two. Shared my two-seater by the door with a couple of young girls for a while. Later with a man and his wife. Cosy.
There’s a bit of a wait here in Kapar Lahar. Our locomotive was unhitched to pick up another (dead?) one on a siding. The pair are now attached to the front of the train – maybe the new addition is due for repair in Pathankot? Down at 610 m above sea-level (from 1290 m at Joginder Nagar, 950 m at Baijnath), no wonder it’s getting warm. Moving! Even if it is backwards. No, false alarm. Stopped again. A long blast on the horm and we’re on our way again.
2:30 pm Jawalamukhi Road
Passed over an impressive bridge but didn’t have my camera ready. I might just have had my eyes closed. Waiting here for an up train to pass.
A tiring day doing not very much. But I’m happy to be in a hotel room, with the air-conditioning on, easy walking distance from Pathankot Junction station and adjacent to the bus station. Still have to figure out how to get to Jammu – road or rail?
I have mixed feelings about the ride today; it didn’t seem to have as much picturesque character as last time. Of course, things change. I’d still recommend the trip, it’s fun and off the beaten tourist track. But it did look more attractive before…