Tag Archive for: Marudhar Express

Two tired dogs sleeping on a trailer in India. Exhausted, but in Agra

42/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 7 – Exhausted, but in Agra

After hours and hours of travel aboard the Marudhar Express train we were tantalisingly close to Agra. I had been tracking our progress on Google maps the whole way which was fascinating and depressing in equal measure. The accuracy of our location was made worse by the jittery 3G signal which often made the icon land on a town further ahead along the line, giving a moment of elation before finally settling next to a place we departed 2 hours ago.
Pencil sketch of two police officers aboard a train in India

41/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 6 – Sketching the Train Guard

Wherever we travel Fiona likes to take a sketchbook along with her. Inside it she collects scraps of paper, receipts, tickets, writings and, of course, her own sketches. Throughout this eventful train journey aboard the Marudhar Express, which was by now so delayed that there wasn’t even any point trying to work out when we would arrive, Fiona had regularly popped back to the cabin to see how I was. For the past hour or so that afternoon though, she hadn’t returned. I set off to find her and make sure she was alright and it didn’t take long to see what the problem was.
Dog dozing in the sunlight on some steps whilst a man stands behind in the shadows.

40/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 5 – Food Delivery

Given his role on the train, his choice of minimal footwear didn’t strike me as ideal but he was obviously well practiced and it didn’t seem to hold him back from the task in hand. As the train approached a station you would simply go over to him whilst he was waiting by the door, his head full of orders in his mental order book. You could tell him what you wanted him to get for you, pass him a few rupees and long before the train had fully stopped he was leaping out of the door like a whippet to scavenge what he could.
Lone person on a long boat sails serenely on the river Ganges in Varanasi, India, at sunrise.

39/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 4 – Progress, Perhaps

Once the excitement, and mild terror, of the calf episode had died down we waited on the platform in Varanasi Junction railway station for another hour before our train pushed aside the mountains of turds on the tracks and pulled up at the platform. A guard walked the length of the train posting lists, carefully printed onto the kind of dot-matrix printer paper  you used to get in the 90s that had holes up the sides. On the lists were the location of each passenger’s berth so it is a case of finding your carriage, locating your name on the list and boarding the train to find your allocated bed / seat.
A young cow standing on the station platform in Varanasi, India

38/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 3 – Cows at the Station

The very first thing that struck us when we arrived was that it was less like a station and more like a giant encampment.  Sure, the physical structure of Varanasi Junction railway station was much like any other, but strange scenes inside were very different to what we expected. We discovered that the thousands of pilgrims who visit Varanasi each day don’t stay in hotels (because of the cost I assume). They arrive one day by train, walk the few miles to the river Ganges to perform their sacred rituals, walk back to the station and, basically, sleep on the floor until the train comes again the next day.
Two empty cycle rickshaws sitting outside some shuttered shops in Chawri Bazaar, New Delhi, India.

37/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 2 – Choosing a Tuk Tuk

The Indian city of Varanasi is arranged in such a way that there is very little motorised traffic allowed in the parts close to the river, such as the area we were staying in. This meant that to get transport to the railway station we had to walk a few hundred meters to the point where the hundreds of cycle rickshaws, Tuk Tuks and taxis congregated in the hunt for their prey. As experienced travellers we were very used to the cacophony of voices trying to tempt us to use their mode of transport and made a point of taking the time to choose our own Tuk Tuk at leisure.
Man wearing grey hoodie cycles an empty rickshaw in New Delhi, India

36/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 1 – Choosing a Train

We found the long distance trains in India to be brilliant, mostly. We used them a few times on our trips across the enormous country and generally they were punctual, comfortable and efficient. One of them, though, was not any of those things and there is so much to mention about one single (very long) train trip that I will have to break it down into smaller chunks.