Summary of the extreme points of India

Hope that some have found these posts informative. I am listing them below:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/the-extreme-points-of-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/the-northernmost-points-in-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/the-easternmost-points-of-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/the-westernmost-points-of-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/the-southernmost-points-of-india/

The westernmost points of India

According to the Wikipedia article on “Extreme Points of India”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extreme_points_of_India

the westernmost point of India is Guhar Moti in Lakhpat taluk of Kutch district of Gujarat. This article mentions that it is at 23.71307 N, 68.03215 E. This appears to be wrong as it gives a point in the sea. However, the village of Guhar Moti is actually at 23.6076 N, 68.5022 E

which you can see here: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Guhar+Moti,+Gujarat+370601,+India/@23.6201256,68.5272452,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x395238a1259c106f:0x66b28d5fd5388930?hl=en

More about this place can be seen here and in line 55 of this

We note that the population of 242 (in the last census) includes 186 belonging to the scheduled castes, 55 to the scheduled tribes and 1 in the general category. In line 56, we see the nearby pilgrimage centre of Narayan Sarovar with a population of 1156. This is larger than the taluk HQ of Lakhpat which is described as a ghost town with a population of 500-odd. It did figure in the 2000 film “Refugee”, which marked the debut of Abhishek Bachchan and  Kareena Kapoor.

Some say that the temple at Koteshwar near Narayan Sarovar is the westernmost point of India, but you can see from the above link to Google maps that this is not true.

Remote as this area may be, it is well connected with roads. There was even a proposal to connect Koteshwar by rail to the nearest railhead at Naliya, but that may have to wait until the closed line from Bhuj to Naliya is converted from metre gauge to broad gauge. Naliya is also the site of India’s westernmost air force base, which hosts Mig-21 fighter aircraft. One of them shot down a Pakistani Navy aircraft near the border in 1999 (more about this below).

This part of Kutch district has a number of industries, mainly based on lignite (brown coal) which is mined nearby. The westernmost industrial unit in India may well be the Akrimota lignite power station on the coast, at 23.7721 N, 68.6442 E.

An overall view of the India-Pakistan border can be seen here

Note the complex border around the Sir Creek. The border is also disputed here, as India and Pakistan differ on the interpretation of a treaty signed between the government of Sind and the ruler of Kutch in 1914. The basic issue here is connected with borders formed by rivers-what happens when the river changes course? More details about the dispute and ongoing negotiations can be seen here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Creek

Also read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantique_incident

Some literature mentions that the lights of Karachi can be seen from Koteshwar. This may not be true as the distance from here to the centre of Karachi is 200 km.

The border here consists of uninhabited marshlands, which are flooded during the monsoons. Patrolling by boats and aircraft is carried out by both countries. Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Rann_of_Kutch

The Kutch war of 1965 did not concern this area and was confined to the northern borders of Kutch.

The northernmost points of India

There are some countries like Britain whose extreme points are well documented. The little towns of Land’s End and John O’Groats are well-known tourist spots.

In many countries one or more borders and extreme points are in remote areas-particularly so in India’s northern and eastern borders. There is a difference between:

  1. What the Indian government says its borders are
  2. What area is actually controlled by the Indian government
  3. What area is disputed by other countries (though this is really of no concern to the Indian public, one has to see maps published from other countries which show a large area as disputed).

One can also look up the definitions of “de jure” and “de facto” if one wants to be further confused.

Anyway, this Wikipedia article claims to mention all the extreme points of India. For today we deal with the northernmost points, and we will return to the other points later.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extreme_points_of_India

We start with a typical map of Jammu and Kashmir from a school atlas:

If one was to take this seriously, the international borders shown here are the true borders of the India since Independence.

J and K 001

A point of interest is the thin sliver of Afghanistan (known as the Wakhan corridor) bordering India’s territory. Crossing this you enter Tajikstan, formerly part of the USSR.

But what is actually controlled by India? This map from Wikipedia sums it up:

764px-JammuKashmir.svg

Note the green area which has been controlled by Pakistan since shortly after independence, although minor changes have occurred in the 1965 and 1971 wars.

Then there is the Aksai Chin (in beige, like the rest of China and Tibet) which was taken over by China some time in the mid-1950s, without the Indian government or armed forces knowing about it. Also note that a portion of  south-eastern Ladakh is held by India and is marked as disputed.

The Siachen glacier (in white) was not permanently occupied by any government until the Indian armed forces occupied positions there in 1984.

Then there is the Shaksgam valley which is supposed to be in India, and was occupied by Pakistan and later transferred to China.

So you can see that the northern-most point actually occupied by India’s forces would be somewhere near the northern end of Siachen, on the border with Xinjiang province of China.

Now we look back to the Wikpedia article referenced earlier: If you click on the co-ordinates you will end up with a map showing the location. But it may take less time if you first open Google maps or Wikimapia etc and enter the coordinates yourself.

The borders will be shown differently if you are using google.co.in  or, say,   google.com .

 

Heading Location Administrative entity Bordering entity Coordinates[nb 1] Ref
North
(disput-ed, govern–ed
Near Indira Col, Siachen Glacier Indian-administered Kashmir Xinjiang, China 35.674520°N 76.845245°E [3]
North
(disput–ed, claimed)
Dafdar in the Taghdumbash Pamir near Beyik Pass Xinjiang, China Wakhan Corridor, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan 37°24′00″N 75°24′00″E [4]
North
(undis- -puted)
Near Dharwas, Chamba district Himachal Pradesh Indian-administered Kashmir 33.24902°N 76.82704°E [5]

 

The first point shows what may be the northernmost Indian military post at Indira Col in the Siachen, with latitude approximately 35.6745 N.

The second shows a place some distance along the Karakoram highway near Tashkargan, the first town in Xinjiang.

And the third shows the northernmost point of Himachal Pradesh (since the whole of J & K is disputed 🙂 )

This is all rather messy, so you may prefer the map referenced here:

GyongLaNJ9842

which shows the location of Indira Col with reference to the Line of Control.

This article explains the significance of NJ 9842 and the line heading northeast from it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siachen_Glacier

Apart from the location above, there is a built-up area at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) airstrip:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daulat_Beg_Oldi 

which is at 35.390 N . Note the comment:

“Other than Siachen Glacier military bases, it is India’s northernmost built-up area.” There is a nearby small town of Murgo, (35.0411 N) which is not yet connected by motorable road to Leh although some roads exist around DBO.

The northernmost town which can be visited by the Indian public is now Warshi:

http://vargiskhan.com/log/warshi-village-nubra-valley-opened-travelers/nubra-valley-opened-till-warshi-village/

Also see this map for the roads here:

http://vargiskhan.com/log/warshi-village-nubra-valley-opened-travelers/leh-to-nubra-valley-map-with-distances-2/

Warshi’s latitude is 35.0629 N, while the previous northernmost accessible place was Turtuk with 34.8474 N. Turtuk was under Pakistan’s control until 1971.

Fortunately the extreme points in the west, east and south are not so confusing. We visit them next.

Footnote: here is another map of disputed territories, which seems to have appeared in “The Economist” at some point. We will meet it again when we come to the eastern extreme points.

Disputed areas

 

The extreme points of India

We hear the phrase “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari” or the next-door version “from Khyber to Karachi”. In Britain there is “From Land’s End to John O’Groats” which are supposed to be the extreme southwest and extreme northeast points of the British mainland. In contrast, the US gets by with “From sea to shining sea” in one of their patriotic songs.

Ever wondered about the extreme points of India? One may think that the question is answered in the Wikipedia article linked below. Actually it is not as simple as that as there are several different ways of deciding where India ends in the north. (Do you mean what the official atlas says, or the point actually under Indian military control? And since many countries think that Kashmir is a disputed territory, then what should be the “undisputed”northernmost point?)

Even the eastern border is disputed by China although it is firmly in Indian control. The western extreme is a point in the sea off the Gujarat-Sind border. And the southernmost point is not Kanyakumari on the mainland but a remote settlement on an island in the Nicobars, with a population of 27.

We shall be visiting these places over the next few blogposts. We also look at the nearest inhabited places (which are hard to find unless you are at Kanyakumari).

Read this first: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extreme_points_of_India

Life on the border-Munabao (2)

Hope you have read the first part:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/life-on-the-border-munabao/

A bit of ancient history first, courtesy of a nice little book “Jodhpur Railway” by R.R. Bhandari, published by Northern Railway in 1982. Copies might still be available at the bookshop at the NRM in Delhi.

The start of this desert route came about by public demand in Sind province (which, unlike Jodhpur state, was ruled by the British). Thus a BG line was built from Hyderabad (Sind) to Shadipalli, a little east of Jamrao and Mirpur Khas. It was opened in 1892 and did not run at a profit.

Ultimately the British did some arm-twisting and persuaded the ruler of Jodhpur to extend the MG line from the then railhead at Balotra to Shadipalli. The line from Shadipalli to Hyderabad was then converted to MG, and the through MG connection was opened in 1901. The last section was transferred to the Jodhpur Railway. It was generally considered to be one of the best run mid-sized railways in India, and it was not surprising that they could run it at a profit.

An interesting sidelight from this book relates to the station now known as Marwar Jn. Marwar is the name of a region but not a town. This station came into being when the first connection from Pali (then an important town in Jodhpur state) was to be connected to the Ahmedabad-Delhi line. As it often happens, the optimum connection happened to be at a place with little local population. But it was chosen as the water supply there was more abundant than the other possible points. This station went through various names such as Kharchi, Jaswantganj, Jodhpur (which was OK until the line to the real Jodhpur was opened), Bitoora and finally Marwar Jn. It is still essentially a railway town with few other activities.

By the 2000s, the MG system in Pakistan was on its last legs. Hyderabad to Mirpur Khas was now converted back to BG and the latter town had two expresses from Karachi. The pathetic state of the MG network can be seen from these extracts from a PR timetable of 2001:PR-47

The BG connection up to Hyderabad is shown above.

PR-48

Here you can see the pair of trains which ran once a week between Mirpur Khas and Khokhrophar. They ran with ancient steam locos, as did the other MG lines.PR-49

The line from Mirpur Khas to Nawabshah appeared to have only two trains a month, and a single intermediate station functioning on the 129-km route.

PR-50

And this loop line from Mirpur Khas to Pithoro had one train a week, which ran only in the anti-clockwise direction and returned via the “main line” as you can see from page 48 above.

There were a few BG routes such as Quetta – Zahidan which had a similar pattern of service.

A recent picture of Hyderabad Sind station, which is a junction unlike its larger Indian counterpart:

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/55451313.jpg

By 2006 the Indian BG conversion had reached up to Munabao and was then extended up to the border. Similarly Pakistan converted the line up to the border. As Khokhropar was a few km away from the border, they decided to build a new station “Zero Point” just inside the border. There is a general understanding between the two countries that no new structures will be erected within a few hundred metres of the border, but India seems to have let this pass.

The geography of the border stations can be seen here:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/@25.7274878,70.2551959,14z

The service began in 2006 with the Indian train running from Jodhpur to Munabao, the trans-border train running between Munabao and Zero Point, and the Pakistani train running from there to Karachi Cantt with commercial halts at Mirpur Khas and Hyderabad. The Indian train apparently runs non-stop. After a couple of years the terminus was shifted from Jodhpur to the suburb of Bhagat-ki-Kothi (BGKT) Apparently it was easier to handle security from the smaller station, which is more known for its diesel locomotive shed.

Bhagat ki Kothi

There are full immigration and customs checks at both border stations. The trans-border train is the true Thar Express, while the train from BGKT is correctly called the Thar Link Express. The trans-border train is supposed to be run by India and Pakistan alternately for 6 months. When it is the Indian train, everyone gets on to the same train they came by once the border formalities are over. It takes them to Zero Point, where everyone gets down and the passengers from Pakistan board for their trip across the border. Similarly, the Pakistani train from Karachi takes their passengers across their border up to Munabao and returns to Zero Point. Everyone gets down for the formalities before they board again for Karachi.

The formalities may take several hours on each side and frequent seizures of smuggled goods and counterfeit currency are made. Expired visas and other irregularities are also commonly found, although visas are supposed to be checked before boarding at BGKT.

These are the timings of the Thar Link Express:TharLink

And on the Pakistani side:

Thar Pak TT

Note that this website can be seen only in some countries, so you may have to make some adjustments.

The timetables are more of a work of fiction as delays for checking often take longer than expected.

When the new service started, India already had a daily passenger train between Barmer and Munabao. But on the Pakistani side there was only the 405/406 running between Mirpur Khas and Zero Point with no intermediate stops. Khokhropar, the only place of some importance in that remote area, found itself totally cut off as roads were in a poor condition. More recently a daily passenger train has been introduced on this route:

Pak Pass TT

The current timetable does not show any services on the MG lines on the Pithoro loop or the Nawabshah branch, so we presume they are now closed. Thus Pakistan is now an unigauge country like Sri Lanka, but unlike India and Bangladesh where the metre gauge and narrow gauge will be around for a long time to come.

Here are a few videos of this train:

Arrival from Pakistan at Munabao:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvOiF6iGO0U

Leaving Zero Point for India:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awJXVKShrXA

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dRtTjsqxI4

And passing through Chanesar, a suburb of Karachi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SimkBa8ScQY

It needs to be mentioned that it is a long and uncomfortable journey and not particularly worthwhile for Indian railfans. This is in contrast to the Samjhauta route where Lahore and Amritsar are both within an hour of the border.

They could, of course, travel from Barmer to Munabao by the local train. With luck, you might see some action between 12 noon and 2 pm on Saturday though the cross-border train is more likely to arrive late. Even if one could find a place to stay there, there is supposed to be a curfew between 7 pm and 6 am.