Saturday, June 2, 2007


It may seem a bit naive, but during my recent trip to Madras ( I like that name very much), I was pretty impressed by two places.

The first was Mettupalayam railway station. With the Nilgiri range overlooking the station on one side, and houses and the railway track on the other, the station has practically only one train to serve - the Nilgiri Express (superfast actually) or the Blue Mountain Express, as it may be known. This arrives at around 6.00 am to Mettupalyam from Madras and leaves at around 7.40 pm, back to Madras. This train has been running practically for over a century (unverified), with the 'original' service being from Madras to Ooty, consisting of the ride from Mettupalayam to Ooty in the toy train which heaves up the 'highest gradient' in Indian railways. The toy train runs today also being interrupted by mother Nature, putting a boulder here or washing out a bridge there.
There is also a passenger daily, from Coimbatore and back, which makes use of the diesel engine which tows along the bogies from Coimbatore, beyond which it is an electric line. The passenger goes to Coimbatore in the morning and comes back in the evening.

What I liked about the station was the serene picturesque setting it is located in. The station is built at a higher level, which gives it the first sense of superiority. Some portion of the platform is not covered by a roof; a couple of benches here make for a good scenery. As the sun sets, a cool breeze blow across, and watching the passengers and the postal workers getting ready for the arrival of the train is fun. Add to this the hills looking over from the northwest; it is a really wonderful experience. It is pretty silent too.

The second place I was impressed about was Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus, in Koyambedu, also called CBT, or just Koyambedu. This is truly a world apart, from Madras city, that is. I expected it to be like any other bus stand in Tamil Nadu - dirty, unorganised - but lo and behold - it was so surprisingly clean... There were separate bays for buses to each city, a lot of boards and information signs, policemen making sure the vehicular traffic was in control.... Felt proud that there was one nice, Govt. owned, well maintained place in the whole of Madras city. Hats off to CBT!