I traveled to Chennai city in April 2019 for personal work and then proceeded to Madurai by Tejas Express for a leisure trip. I stayed at Hotel Chennai Gate located opposite Chennai Egmore railway station. I chose this hotel due to its proximity to Chennai Egmore railway station and the convenience to board Madurai bound Tejas Express the next day morning only at 6 am.
I had been to Madurai earlier also but did not get any opportunity to travel from Chennai Egmore railway station. A weekend holiday in the third week of April 2019 let me choose my travel plan conveniently. I was very excited about this trip as this was my maiden journey on Chennai's chord line. I had checked in at the hotel at 12 pm the previous day, upon my arrival from Bengaluru by Bengaluru-Chennai Shatabdi Express.
After checking in at the hotel, I had a strong cup of filter coffee, a popular refreshing beverage in Chennai. I had plenty of time to spend in Chennai for the entire day as the scheduled departure of my train was on the next day at 6 am from Chennai Egmore railway station.
After sipping coffee, I headed out to visit American Library managed by the United State Consulate General. The library is located next to the consulate office in Chennai's posh Gemini Circle on Anna Salai road. After my visit to the American Library, it was lunchtime and close to 2 pm in the sunny afternoon. I then headed to Chennai Egmore's famous landmark Mathsya Darshini.
I booked an ola cab and traveled to Chennai Egmore from Gemini circle within twenty-five minutes. After a sumptuous meal at this Udupi restaurant, it was time to head back to my hotel for a small nap. I reached the hotel and took some rest till 5 pm. The rest of the day was spent at the hotel room and was uneventful.
Departing From Chennai Egmore
The next day I got up early at 4.30 am and prepared to leave the hotel room by 5 am. I sipped a cup of hot coffee in the hotel room at around 4.50 am. I checked out the hotel room at 5 am and headed straight to Chennai Egmore railway station. The Gandhi-Irwin Road i.e. Chennai Egmore railway station road was crowded with many auto-rickshaws and arrival of the passengers from various destinations traveling by trains.
I reached the railway station which is located opposite my hotel within five minutes. The railway station was abuzz with the morning crowd as early as 5 am. One could spot a couple of early morning arrivals at the railway station. Another observation was the movement of local suburban trains leaving from Chennai Central from 5 am onwards towards Chennai Beach and Tambaram.
I enquired with the train booking counter regarding the departure status of my train. The display screen in the railway station was yet to be updated with complete information and I had no other choice to make an inquiry at the booking counter. I was directed to go to platform number 2 of the Chennai Egmore railway station. Platform number 2 is located near the Chord line tracks and one has to walk for about two to three minutes from the main building of the railway station.
I had booked an e-ticket to Madurai onboard Tejas Express much in advance. My journey was on board First Class executive chair car. Tejas Express is a semi-high speed and full air-conditioned train operating between major cities in India. The other three Tejas Express that are operating on the Indian Railway network are Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad Tejas Express, Mumbai CST-Karmali (Goa) Tejas Express, and New Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express.
Tejas Express journey time is usually within seven hours and covers almost half a day. It returns to its destination from its origin point on the same day terminating the journey at night. Passengers are provided with a welcome drink, breakfast, lunch, evening tea, and dinner on the train, and food charges are included in the ticket fares at the time of booking an e-ticket.
My coach number E1 was located next to the railway locomotive. The designated platform number 2 was busy with all the passengers heading towards Madurai. I boarded the train at around 5.45 am and the coach was full of passengers. As it was a weekend holiday, the rush was expected. My seat number was W12 and I had a wide window to view the outside world. The windowpane had automatic blinds unlike manual blinds available in Shatabdi Express.
The push-back seats were neatly maintained with the facility of a foldable food tray and a live television screen. The television screen had an option to monitor the train's path through a global positioning system (GPS) screen and another option to view Hindi or English movies. Headphones were provided by the train staff to all the passengers and costed rupees twenty per headset.
Soon it was 6 am and the train departed from Chennai Egmore railway station bang on time. The path towards Tambaram was slow owing to certain speed restrictions imposed within the city limits. One could see high-rise buildings and residential apartments along with the shining light of the rising sun. Next, it was time to verify the e-tickets of all the passengers.
The onboard ticket checking staff verified the e-ticket along with the identity card (identity card is required during the travel as proof of booking). The pantry staff then distributed complimentary English newspapers and a bottle of packaged drinking water. Choice of morning tea/coffee was served along with biscuits as a welcome beverage. I had a good view of the outside world on the Chord Line and soon we crossed Chengalpattu railway station overlooking the rising sun through Kolavai Lake. It was time for breakfast served the onboard pantry staff.
The first breakfast consisted of a cereal breakfast i.e. cornflakes served with a banana and hot milk. After some time the main course of breakfast was served. It consisted of idly vada, coconut chutney, vegetarian Pongal, and a lentil soup or sambhar. A fresh cup of coffee was served after completing the breakfast. The breakfast served onboard was refreshing, tasty, and wholesome.
Arrival at Tirucharapally
Soon it was 10 am and we arrived at the first designated commercial halt of the train at Tirucharapally. Most of the passengers disembarked at Tirucahrapally and only a few passengers were left bound towards Madurai. The station was not crowded and no other trains were visible in the railway station. Pantry staff exchanged the empty food trays at Tirucharapally to be filled up for the train's return journey in the evening.
The train left Tirucharapally after a fifteen-minute halt at the railway station. After a good thirty to forty-five minute journey, the scenery outside was full of green agricultural fields and a valley of hills. The spotting of a valley of hills indicated the arrival of the train's second and final commercial halt at Kodaikanal Road. We arrived at the railway station at around 11.30 am and had a brief five-minute halt. The reason for such a commercial stop at this station is owing to the town's popularity for being a tourist spot in Tamil Nadu.
It is just an hour's drive to Kodaikanal hill station from Kodaikanal Road railway station. It was surprising to note that many passengers disembarked at this railway station indicating the onset of the holiday season.
Final Destination at Madurai
After leaving Kodaikanal Road at 11.35 am, it was just an hour's ride to Madurai city. The train's coach was vacant with the exception of around ten passengers who intended to alight only at Madurai. We arrived at Madurai soon at around 12.30 pm. The train came to halt on platform number 1 of Madurai Railway station. Madurai city is the famous temple town of Tamil Nadu popular for Madurai Meenakshi Temple. I had arrived here for one day's solo trip and intended to visit the temple sometime later during the evening. Meanwhile, after I disembarked I headed to the newly launched IRCTC Executive Lounge for lunch.
Afternoon lunch is not served onboard Tejas Express and thus I had to visit the lounge to have sumptuous North Indian executive buffet-style lunch. After lunch, I headed straight to my hotel room and decided to take a break from outings for the rest of the day. Thus my maiden trip to Madurai onboard the newly launched Chennai Egmore-Madurai Tejas Express ended on a hot afternoon with a happy note.
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