The Train to Mantralayam
It was the year-end Christmas vacation time in December 2018. My family members decided to visit Mantralayam and we were a group of twenty members traveling together. As a first choice, it was decided to travel by Udyan Express, and later the plan was changed to travel by 16594 Bengaluru-Hazur Sahib Nanded Express, which reached Mantralayam Road railway station at around 7.30 am. All the nineteen members were booked in the sleeper class. My tickets were not booked due to the last-minute changes in my leave plan. Finally, my leave was approved and I decided to travel by First Class air-conditioned coach of Nanded Express. (The facility of First-class air-conditioned coach has now been withdrawn onboard Nanded Express by duly replacing it with air-conditioned two-tier sleeper or A.C. Two-tier coach!)
My ticket was confirmed upon booking it through IRCTC's rail ticket booking portal. On the d-day, I opted to board from Bengaluru City while my other family members who had booked tickets in sleeper class, decided to board from the nearest railhead at Yeswanthpur railway station. As a railfan, I never wanted to miss the opportunity of observing trains at the Bengaluru city railway station. I arrived early at the railway station at around 8 pm. The New Delhi bound 22694 Bengaluru-Hazarat Nizamuddin Express had departed sharply at 8 pm from platform number 8. The next rake to be shunted on platform 8 was 16589 Bengaluru-Kolhapur Rani Chennamma Express (post-COVID the train now terminates at Miraj Junction). The platform was as usual busy with passengers heading to Hubballi, Dharwad, Belagavi, and other places en route. Soon it was around 9.15 pm that the train left for its destination towards Kolhapur.
I was expecting that my train 16594 Bengaluru-Hazur Sahib Nanded express would be bought in at platform number 8 and waited patiently in front of the huge LED display screen on platform 8. As it was a Wednesday, the Jodhpur bound 16508 Bengaluru-Jodhpur express train's departure (via Hubballi) was announced from platform 8. It was already 9.45 pm, I was getting late to do the railfanning of my train i.e. 16594 Bengaluru-Hazur Sahib Nanded and the platform number was announced to be at number 10. I rushed to platform number 10 through the entry point of platform 8, before the arrival of 16508 Bengaluru-Jodhpur Express, for you would have to use the foot over bridge otherwise to connect to platform number 10!
The rake of 16594 Bengaluru-Hazur Sahib Nanded express was already shunted on platform number 10. I hurried to my coach H1 i.e. The First Class air-conditioned coach. I was allotted Cabin A with an upper berth. The cabin was already occupied by two passengers and another passenger was boarding en route at Yeswanthpur railway station.I settled down in my seat and gave an update to my mother regarding the status of the train. Soon it was time to leave Bengaluru city at 10.45 pm. The next scheduled commercial stop was at Yeswanthpur Railway station at around 10.55 pm. I again gave an update to my mother regarding the departure of my train from Bengaluru railway station.
The train arrived at Yeswanthpur after the ten-minute ride from Bengaluru railway station. I was at the door and waved to my family members who had confirmed reservations in the sleeper class S5 coach. Soon my cabin was occupied by the co-passenger who boarded from Yeswanthpur railway station. My mother called me up to inform me that they have settled down in the coach. I returned to my Cabin A and prepared to sleep. I occupied my designated upper berth after showing my e-ticket details and identity card to the travel ticket examiner after leaving Yeswanthpur railway station. I had a good night's sleep and woke up much before the train's arrival at Guntakal railway station the next morning.
I got down onto the platform for fresh air and grabbed a cup of coffee. The train had a halt at Guntakal railway station for about fifteen minutes. I made some observations as the coach maintenance staff cleaned the restrooms of the coach and asked for my feedback on a tablet. There were a couple of food vendors selling breakfast consisting of idly, vada, dosa, and hot coffee and tea. The train soon left Guntakal junction at around 6.10 am and I settled down in my seat. I took the copy of Samit Da's Indian Rail Atlas and gazed at the window looking at railway stations and trains.
Soon my destination i.e. Mantralayam Road railway station arrived at around 7.30 am. I got down and hurried to the sleeper coach S5 to be with my mother and other family members. The station was abuzz with all the passengers heading to Mantralayam town. We had to cross over the foot-over bridge to reach platform number 1 as our train had arrived on the mainline of platform number 3.As I entered platform number 1, I bought a copy of The Hans India, an English language newspaper, and soon headed to the exit. The exit of the station is adorned with a huge picture of Sri Raghavendra Swamy with pooja offerings. As we exited the railway station we made arrangements to book a taxi to reach Mantralayam town. We had a pleasant stay at Mantralyam and hassle-free darshan of the lord.
Return To Bengaluru
Soon it was time to leave Mantralayam town on the same day evening. I had booked my return journey to Bengaluru by 16584 Latur-Yeswanthpur Express onboard First Class air-conditioned coach yet again. While the rest of my family members had sleeper class reservations onboard 11311 Solapur-Hassan Express leaving Mantralayam Road railway station at 11.55 pm. While my train from Latur would depart at 12.35 am with just a difference of thirty minutes. We reached the Mantralayam Road railway station at around 10.30 pm. As we arrived and entered railway platform number 1, the 11301 Udyan Express from Mumbai CST to Bengaluru had departed just then. We had plenty of time till 11.30 pm and 12.30 am respectively. Being a railfan I could not resist making observations at the railway station. I was able to take note of the crossings of 22692 Hazarat Nizamuddin-Bengaluru Rajdhani Express, 12793 Tirupati-Nizamabad Rayalseema Express,11304 Kolhapur-Managuru Express, and 12735 Secunderabad-Yeswanthpur Garib Rath Express.
Soon it was the arrival time of 11311 Solapur-Hassan Express at around 11.45 pm. My family members boarded the train as it halted for a patient for ten minutes. The station now wore a deserted look with no major trains passing by now. I spent some time on the railway platform and visited the waiting room also. The coach display boards indicated the arrival of my train i.e. 16584 Latur-Yeswanthpur Express. My First Class air-conditioned coach HB1 was placed near the train's locomotive. I quickly rushed to the spot and got ready to board the train. The train then arrived bang on time at 12.35 am and I was the only passenger to board HB1 coach.
The train otherwise had less crowd bound to Bengaluru. As soon as I entered and settled down in my Coupe number B, the travel ticket examiner came in and verified my e-tickets and identity card. This was the first time that I was allotted a lower berth and coupe onboard the First Class air-conditioned coach. (There was another passenger who had already occupied the upper berth) I prepared to sleep immediately after the train left Mantralayam railway station as I was tired for the day and badly wanted a sleep!
The next day I woke up at Yelahanka railway station. The journey till Yelahanka was uneventful as I could spot the doubling work in progress on the Dharmawaram-Yelahanka section. Soon my destination arrived at Yeswanthpur and I joined my family members to reach back my sweet home after a wonderful rail journey to Mantralayam!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.