Sunday, August 26, 2012

Largest Utility employer in the world !

With a mammoth railway network, across India, around 1.6 million people work for the Indian railways !

Here are 10 interesting facts about Indian Railways:

1) The oldest working steam locomotive in the world is the Fairy Queen

2) The first train ran from Bori Bunder, in Mumbai to Thane on April 16, 1853.

3) There are about 116,000 bridges of all types in the route of Indian Railways, which accounts to an average of two bridges per kilometer.

4) Howrah is the largest and the busiest station of the Indian Railways catering daily, to around 490 trains.

5) Indian railways carries around 18 million passengers, daily and around 2 million tones of freight, everyday (equal to carrying 350,000 elephants everyday !)

6) The total track length of the Indian Railways is 63327 kilometres. If these were laid end to end, it would go round the world – three times !

7) Nearly 11,000 trains, run in India, everyday, connecting around 7,000 stations.

8) The longest railway platform in India is at Kharagpur

9) The railway station with the shortest name in India is ‘Ib’, near Jharsuguda on the Howrah-Nagpur main line.

10) The longest station name is ‘Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta’, which lies along the Arakkonam- Renigunta rail route.

Shivalik Express - connecting Kalka and Shimla

More information about the UNESCO World heritage sites of the Indian Railways, railway stations and heritage trains.

The nostalgic childhood memories of long and relaxing train trips during my summer vacations with my family, will always be remembered and cherished !

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Asia’s second longest road and rail bridge

One of the symbolic structures of Rajamundry, besides its famous temples, are the three bridges connecting Kovvur and Rajahmundry, built across the river Godavari, the largest river in South India.
This July, whilst, travelling from Kakinada (my husband’s native place) to Guntur, we crossed this river via the Godavari bridge and luckily took a picture of one of the bridges.

The earliest bridge, Havelock bridge, was built in 1897 and after a decade has been decommissioned.

The second bridge, the Godavari bridge is a railroad bridge, 2.7 kilometres long, built in 1960's to facilitate travel via the rail and was commissioned by the Indian Railways. This is a truss bridge, with the superstructure made of steel. It carries a single railway track in the lower level, and two-way road, pedestrian pathways on the upper level. It is Asia’s second longest road and rail bridge.

Godavari Arch Bridge
 This was followed by the construction of the Godavari Arch Bridge, a bowstring-girder bridge which is probabaly one of the longest span of prestressed concrete arch bridge in Asia.
The bridge was built by the Hindustan Construction Company, for the Indian Railways.

  "The wise man travels to discover himself." - James Russell Lowell

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Krishna Janmasthami – Celebrating the free and childhood spirit

The birth of Lord Krishna, called, Krishna Janmasthami in Sanskrit, marks the ninth and the most loved, reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver. It is celebrated in the lunar calendar month of Shravan, between mid-August and mid-September, as per the Gregorian calendar. This tradition is celebrated as ‘Uriyadi’ in Tamil Nadu. This year, the festival was celebrated on August 10.

The festival is all about fasting, dance, drama, music, puja and bhajans.

'Dahi Handi' celebration in one of the streets in Goa

Showers of rain make the task more difficult

Mission accomplished !
The ritual of ‘Dahi Handi’ – is practiced to portray the playful and spirited side of Lord Krishna. A pot of curd is suspended from a rope tied high between two poles, which has to be broken. Thus groups of youngsters form human pyramids to achieve this task, whilst onlookers throw water on them, to make this game challenging. This can be witnessed in many streets in Mumbai, Goa and in Tamil Nadu, during Janmasthami or Gokulasthami.

“This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hari-ki-pauri: Haridwar’s most sacred place

My pilgrimage expedition is ongoing. Whenever I get a chance, I try to visit the holy places in India (and abroad) to renew my faith and experience peace.

This June, I was lucky enough to visit, the holy Hardiwar city, one of the oldest living cities in India. As per the legend, it is one of the four places wherein the celestial bird Garuda had spilled a few drops of the divine amrit (elixir of immortality), and is called the Brahmakund. Adjacent to this, is the Hari-ki pauri (God’s feet), situated on the ghat- river banks of the holy Ganges. It is considered the most sacred place in Haridwar. The Ganga Ma temple and the other temples are located nearby.
Haridwar is one of the four sites destined for the famous Kumbh mela.
Every evening the aarti (prayer service) is performed at the Hari-ki-pauri, at dusk (around 7 pm)

The divine chants, ringing bells, moreover the vision of aartis at dusk and numerous diyas – left afloat in the river – invoke the presence of the Divine force !

It is truly a sight to witness atleast once in a lifetime !

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark