Konkan Railways

FACTS & FIGURES
Route Length : 760 kms
Bridges : 1,798 (major - 168; minor - 1,630)
Best Time to Visit : September to April
Tunnels : 88 (longest 6.5 km)

The Konkan is a coastal strip of land bounded by the Sahyadri hills on the east and Arabian Sea on the west. It is a land where mythology breathes side by side with economic growth; a land with rich mineral resources, dense forest cover, and a landscape fringed with paddy, coconut, and mango trees.

THE MAKING

The construction of the 760-km-long broad-gauge Konkan Railway heralds the realization of a long-cherished dream of millions of people of the Konkan region. For extending the railway system to the south from Bombay, the early pioneers of railway construction considered it more expedient to climb the Lonavala ghats from Bombay and reach Pune first than to go in for a direct link along the West Coast. There were two compulsions behind this choice. One was to connect the Bombay Port with its hinterland so that rich minerals and raw materials could be brought from the interior for shipment. The other was the daunting engineering challenge presented by the route along the west coast towards South, particularly in fording the innumerable creeks and rivers and in scaling the many formidable hill ranges reaching out to the sea from the Western Ghat.

The first ever railway line on the Indian subcontinent from Boribunder to Thane was opened to traffic on April 16, 1853 and the broad gauge line from the south reached Mangalore by 1907. A feeble attempt was made to extend the railway line from the Mumbai end in slow stages, first from Diva to Panvel (1964), then from Panvel to Apta (1966) and finally from Apta to Roha (1986). However, it was only in October 1984 that the Ministry of Railways decided to take a final location engineering-cum-traffic survey for part of the west coast from Mangalore to Madagaon, a distance of 325 km. In March 1985, the railways decided to enhance the scope of this survey to cover the remaining length of the west coast line from Madagaon to Roha. The Southern Railway, which was entrusted with this final location survey, submitted the project report for this route, dubbed the Konkan Railway after the coastline it hugs, to the Railway Ministry in 1988.

As the first phase of the west coast line, the portion from Mangalore to Udupi, a distance of 69 km, was included in the railway budget of 1989. 90. The remaining length of the project from Udupi to Roha, a distance of 768 km, was included in the 1990. 91 railway budget. The Konkan Railway is a broad-gauge single line, from Roha to Mangalore (760 km). There are 53 stations on the line; the more important ones in Karnataka are Karwar, Ankola, Gokarna Road, Kumta, Honnavar, Bhatkal, Kundapur, and Udupi.

PLACES TO VISIT

The ecology and scenic beauty of the region traversed by the Konkan Railway will make the journey along this route a pleasant and enjoyable experience for the passengers. The shortened time span and the easy accessibility to inland scenic spots or to beach fronts along the picturesque coastline should offer opportunities for travel not contemplated earlier and contribute to a booming tourist trade.

In an effort to make the region more accessible to tourists, important super fast trains like Delhi. Trivandrum Rajdhani Express have been diverted over the Konkan Railway. In addition, a Shatabdi Express has been also started between Mumbai. Madagaon.

In a region that has immense potential for tourism, the Konkan Railway can act as a catalyst for growth, attracting both the domestic and the foreign traveler.

Every state in Konkan offers tremendous variety. history, adventure, wildlife and sun-kissed beaches. and many of these spots are untouched and pristine. Until now, they were inaccessible except to hardy explorers, willing to suffer the discomfort of exhausting bus journey.

Maharashtra is a state that can be immensely satisfying to those looking for history or adventure. For a traveler today, the Raigad Fort combines both. The fort, built by Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1674, witnessed his glittering coronation in 1674, and it was from there that he set out for his expedition of the south, and in 1680, breathed his last. In trying to reach it, the tourist can now opt for a steep three- or four-hour climb, or for the heart-stopping Raigad ropeway, 35 km away from Veer.

The Raigad district, formerly known as Kolaba, is the birthplace of Sri Kanhoji Angre, the first Maratha naval chief. The district has also one of the loveliest beaches in India. Well-known beaches of the area are Alibag, the headquarters of the district (108 km from Mumbai), and Akshi-Nagaon, 7 km away on the Alibag. Rewdanda Road, where inscription of Chalukyan period may be found.

If one thinks of beaches, the first name that comes to mind is Goa. When a traveler on the Konkan Railway alights at Madagaon, he finds himself 6 km away from Colva, the state's commercial hub. Colva, an 18-km stretch of silvery sand, has the secluded wilds of Palolem and Betul beaches at the far end. It was here that the second-century statue of Buddha was found. While beaches like Calangute, Vagator, and Dona Paola are the first areas that the tourists visit, Goa has far more to offer to the visitor. Panaji, the capital, only a small fishing village four centuries ago, is one of the most beautiful in the country, rising on the wooden terraces of the Alinto hill.

On the lower coast of the south India is Karnataka, formerly known as Mysore state. It got its name from Karu Nadu, meaning 'lofty land'. so called because most of Karnataka is situated on the western edge of the Deccan plateau.

The beautiful state with backwaters, coconut trees, and nature therapy, God. s own country, Kerala is to the extreme south. According to legend, after lord Vishnu slayed the evil kings, and descended from the heavens in his incarnation of Parasurama, he threw his axe into the sea. It is said that where the axe landed, from shaft to blade the rich and beautiful land of Kerala arose.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

The Ganesh Festival is celebrated in Maharashtra during August. September. In this festival, the Maharashtrians install an idol of the elephant-headed god in their home and, in a week. s time, releases him into the sea amidst songs and dances.

Goans celebrate several festivals, the most notable among them are the Shigmotsav or Shigmo (Goa. s version of Holi) and the three-day Carnival held during February. March.

DELICACIES

Tourists may enjoy seafood in Goa during International Sea Food Festival. Forest and marine products abound. Some of India. s most prized varieties of mangoes come from here; so do other fruits like coconut and cashew.