More on India-China border disputes

There are many maps showing areas disputed between India and its neighbors. This is perhaps the most comprehensive. It appeared in the “Economist” some years ago.

Though you may find this more convenient:

India disputed borders

Note that nothing much had happened in the past in the “central” portion, where China borders Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Now Chinese troops have started intruding there as well-apart from the better-known Barahoti in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, there are also reports from Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

This map of Himachal Pradesh shows the districts:

Himachal districts

We can see that Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts share borders with China.

Now see this map of Kinnaur district:

Kinnaur district

Incursions have been reported in the vicinity of Sumdo.

Here is a Google Maps extract showing the border post of Kaurik:,+Himachal+Pradesh/@31.9372429,78.4363845,11z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x390643bef5f84a51:0xddfea72b01d3f354!8m2!3d31.6509576!4d78.4751945

Unlike in the case of most of our northern borders, roads seem to exist to within a few km of the border here.

A longer list of disputed areas can be seen here:

If you are really into maps, you can amuse yourself by accessing Google Maps from and other sites such as The latter will show a lot of “disputed” sections which do not appear in the former. Try it especially on the Uttarakhand and Himachal borders, besides the better-known disputed territories in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.

From Gandhinagar to Gandhinagar

As we have seen in

there are many pairs of railway stations in India which are situated far apart but have similar (if not identical) names. In general, there are no convenient connections between these pairs, such as Udaipur City (Rajasthan) and Udaipur (Tripura) or Chandrapur (Maharashtra) and Chandrapura (Jharkhand).

Except for one pair:

Gandhinagar Jaipur

and its better-known namesake

Gandhinagar Capital

The one above has now developed into an important secondary station for trains heading on the routes from Jaipur to Delhi and beyond as well as to Agra and beyond. Thus we have the Ajmer/Delhi and Jaipur/Agra Shatabdis halting there, as well as several other prominent long-distance trains.

While Gandhinagar is the capital of Gujarat, it has relatively poorer train service as it is not on a main line, but on a loop between Ahmedabad and Kalol which is used by a handful of long-distance trains as well as locals connecting it with Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad itself has secondary stations such as Sabarmati and Maninagar.

The relative importance of the two Gandhinagars can be seen from the lists of trains serving them:


Recently I did have reason to make a round trip between the two Gandhinagars, in connection with work at IIT Gandhinagar, which many feel is the best of the “newer” IITs.

There is, in fact, precisely one daily train which connects the two stations, as you can see below:


That is the 19031/19032 Yoga Express, which was the Ahmedabad/Haridwar Mail until 2013 and the 1/2 Delhi/Ahmedabad Mail still earlier. Until the 1970s it was considered to be the most prestigious train between Delhi and Ahmedabad, but this mantle then passed to the Ashhram Express (for the regular traveller) and the Rajdhani (for the premium traveller). Somehow the Mail never got superfast status.

There is also the Garib Rath which runs 4 times a week between Bandra Terminus and Delhi Sarai Rohilla. But taking that would be “cheating” because it does not stop at Gandhinagar Jaipur but only at Jaipur Junction.

So if you have to start from the southern half of Jaipur, Gandhinagar Jaipur is preferable.

For the hard-core timetable fan, here are the details for the up and down journeys between the two Gandhinagars:

GG1 001

GG2 001

Although the Yoga Express is supposed to be a train with reasonable prestige (as it has AC-1 accommodation), it does not have a pantry car and passengers make do with informal arrangements. For instance, the northbound train had provision for meals to be delivered at Beawar, although this did not seem to be part of the e-catering system which IRCTC tries to push.

Indian railway stations with matching names

There are some names which you will find in many Indian towns, such as Mahatma Gandhi Road. And there are many places with similar names, such as Rampur which must be the name of dozens of villages and small towns. Ironically, the largest place with this name was once part of a princely state ruled by Muslims.

Most of us have heard of the large cities of Hyderabad (capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh) and Hyderabad in Sind. Pre-1947 timetables listed the two as Hyderabad (Deccan) and Hyderabad (Sind). I could not locate any old pictures of these stations and their signs, though this is what they look like today:

There never was any train between these cities, and anyone traveling between them by train would have had to change at several places. One possibility would include a sea journey between Bombay and Karachi.

This also illustrates a general rule which the Indian Railways have tried to follow-that no two stations should have exactly the same name. Of course, the station code will be different.

One example is Madhupur in Jharjhand and Madhopur in Punjab:

You cannot travel by a direct train between these stations. The Howrah/Jammu Tawi Himgiri Express does run through both, but stops only at the one on the left. The one in Punjab is a smaller station, but for some years in the 1960s it was the northern-most station in India before the line was extended to Kathua, Jammu and beyond.

Then there are the three Katras:

The first two are in UP. The first is an ex-MG terminus near Gonda which is across the river from Ayodhya. It was connected to the BG network in recent times when a bridge was built across the Saryu.

The second is between Shahjahanpur and Bareilly. The third is the new showpiece station (SVDK) which is the railhead for Vaishno Devi.It is the northern-most station on the main IR network (though not on IR; that is Sopore near Baramulla). It is likely to hold this status for a few years until the connection to Banihal is completed.

There is one train which runs through Miranpur Katra on its way to SVDK, but does not stop there. This is the once-weekly Kamakhya/SVDK Express. The Himgiri Express and Kolkata/Jammu Express also run through it, though they still terminate at Jammu.

Then we have two places with similar names in Maharashtra and Jharkhand:

The one on the left was called Chandrapur (Maharashtra) until recently. There is another station called Chanda Fort nearby. There are no direct or nearly-direct trains between these stations.

And now to Rajendranagar in MP and Bihar:

The former is on the southern outskirts of Indore and is presently served by a number of DEMUs between Indore and Mhow. The latter is east of Patna Jn and is an important secondary terminus for Patna, while Danapur and the new Pataliputra station also fulfill this role.

There are two weekly trains between Indore and Rajendranagar Terminal (one of which was involved in a serious accident near Kanpur last November). So it is a reasonably simple task to travel between the two Rajendranagars. It is possible that the MG conversion south of Mhow may see some long-distance trains connecting these stations, though they are unlikely to stop at the one in MP.

Now these two in Rajasthan and Tripura. The latter has just seen the start of passenger services from Agartala:

It is theoretically possible that one day there may be a direct train between these two stations. There may not be much logic behind this routing.

The station on the left was opened in the mid-60s as part of the Udaipur-Himatnagar new line. The existing terminus of Udaipur was renamed Ranapratap Sagar, and still hosts most of the railway offices of this region. For some years Udaipur City was one of the few stations which were pseudo-junctions where a line of one gauge ended and line of another gauge started. It has now lost this status as the Udaipur City-Ahmedabad MG line is now under conversion. Other examples of pseudo-junctions are Kalka and Mettupalaiyam (but not Neral, Pathankot, NJP and Siliguri Jn which are junctions in the regular sense). Other pseudo-junctions have existed in the relatively recent past (e.g. Parli Vaijnath)

The station on the right is presently a terminus, but the line will soon extend downwards to Belonia and Sabrum at the southern tip of Tripura. It will not touch the now-closed terminus of Belonia which lies a short distance within the Bangladesh border. Also note that Bengali is the official language (at least for station signs) in Tripura and three districts of southern Assam.

Now, you may ask, is there any case of two widely separated stations with similar names having a direct train connection. There are some trivial cases like those of Merta Road/Merta City and Latur Road/Latur (but not Ranchi Road/Ranchi). But there is one more. I traveled between them recently. More on this later.

Note: Copyrights of the pictures here belong to the original photographers.

The US Presidential elections and Indian place names

As the saturation coverage of the US elections will continue for a while, we may as well try to match their leader’s names to place names in India.

While the incumbent President Barack Obama came to India more than once, he does not seem to have visited this place:


His predecessor Jimmy Carter did indeed have a village near Gurgaon named after him. Supposedly his mother had been there with the Peace Corps at one time:

A halt station called Carterpuri (between Bijwasan and Gurgaon) was listed in the timetable for a few years, though it seems to have closed down long ago and no trace of it can be seen now. A new station called Palam Vihar Halt was built some years later in the same general area, though no trains appear to stop there now.

When Bill Clinton was President, the combination of him and the First Lady was referred to as Billary. Therefore, a logical place for them to visit is:


although it has now been renamed to:


If (somehow) Donald Trump wins, he could visit the small town of McDonald’s Choultry in Tamil Nadu, though the station (between Salem and Erode) was long ago renamed to:


This name change in the 1970s was perhaps the first step against the McDonaldization of India.

We close with this one currently making the rounds on social media, presumably taken in around 1970:


Also read this one:

When stations change names frequently

Railway stations in India can be renamed for various reasons. The most common reason is to align the English spelling with the local pronunciation-as the British often modified the spellings to suit their convenience. Thus there were mass renamings in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka over the past few decades. Perhaps this was not so much of an issue in Northern and Eastern India. And there have been many name changes in Pakistan and (to a lesser extent) in Bangladesh, but those are different stories.

Then there are name changes in honour of famous people (examples like CST Mumbai, CSMT Kolhapur, Bapudham Motihari and Vanchi Maniyachi).

In fact, the stories beyond renaming of railway stations could well be a topic of a doctoral dissertation or at least a middle-sized book. Maybe I will do that one day. Today, we take up the cases of some stations which have been renamed twice-sometimes twice within a decade.

We start with cases where pictures are readily available:


The average resident of this city would probably stick to calling the station “Majestic”, in the same way his counterparts in other cities stick to Nampalli and Kalupur.

Then we have the case of Mangalore/Mangaluru. While the stations here came under Karnataka’s mass renaming in 2014 onwards, they had already been renamed in the mid-2000s for greater clarity.

The old terminus of Mangalore became Mangalore Central. Then there was a smaller station on the outskirts called Kankanadi, which was the locality’s name. But many long-distance trains stopped only there and not at the old terminus-hence it became important enough to be renamed  Mangalore Jn. We see the story here:


Pictures of Mangalore (as it was) and Mangaluru Central do not seem to be on the net.

But there are several other examples across the country

Olavakkot Jn->Palghat Jn->Palakkad Jn

Here Olavakkot was a small place in the vicinity of the city then known as Palghat. At some time in the 70s it was felt that an important junction (as well as a division HQ) should be renamed to mark the larger city, hence it became Palghat Jn. Large-scale renaming in Kerala (to match the local names in Malayalam) was done in around 1990, though most of the stations were renamed only in the 2007 timetable. It then became Palakkad Jn. (There is also a smaller Palakkad Town nearby).

Other examples in and around India include:

Meean Meer West -> Lahore Cantt West -> Lahore Cantt

Meean Meer East -> Lahore Cantt East -> Moghalpura

Mayavaram Jn -> Mayuram Jn -> Mayiladuturai Jn

Bellasis Road -> Bombay Central (Local) -> Mumbai Central (Local)

Manipur Road -> Dimapur Manipur Road -> Dimapur

Marwar Jn is said to have had several name changes in the 19th century.

“Cyclic” name changes:

Dhone Jn -> Dronachellam Jn -> Dhone Jn

Kallakudi Palanganatham -> Dalmiapuram -> Kallakudi Palanganatham

Ashapura Gomat -> Pokhran Road -> Ashapura Gomat

And if you include stations with a single name change, the list will run into hundreds.

Tail piece: Here I am largely considering changes from the 1930s to the present day (except for Lahore where we are starting with the 1860s). In the 19th century there were many rather awkward spellings made by the Brits who built the lines, with names like Ullygurh (obvious) and Uncleswar (not so obvious). Other double changes starting from the 19th century would include

Arconum -> Arkonam -> Arakkonam

Then there were particularly odd ones I have seen in 19th-century documents, such as Sickle for Sikkal and Cynthia for Sainthia. Quite possibly someone had been thinking of his wife or girlfriend in the latter case.

Rail Quiz No 2

Here is a fairly simple one for those who are familiar with timetables of the 1970s:

What was common between these four stations as of the mid-70s (but not today):


Answer: These stations had three gauges of lines.

The first to get it right was Abhirup Sarkar.

Notes for those who are interested:

Remember, all this applies to the 1970s and not now.

BG, MG and NG are mentioned in order for each case.

NJP: The main line to New Bongaigaon, branch line from Siliguri, 2’0″ DHR to Darjeeling.

Bangalore City: Main line from Madras, various lines to Mysore, Hubli etc, 2’6″ line  to Bangarapet via Yelahanka, Chikballapur and Kolar. The NG terminus moved to Yelahanka in the 80s. Now that line is also BG. Possibly Yelahanka had all 3 gauges for some time.

Miraj: Main line from Bombay and Poona, main line from Bangalore, branch line to Kurduwadi. (Up to around 1970 it was on the MG line from Poona to Bangalore. BG conversion got up to Miraj and Kolhapur and then stopped for many years).

Ujjain: Major branch line from Bhopal to Nagda and Indore, minor branch line from Indore via Fatehabad Chandrawatiganj, 2’0″ branch to Agar which probably closed in the 80s. This was originally part of the Scindia State Railway which also ran three similar branches out of Gwalior, one of which still runs on NG.


For whom the bell tolls

This has nothing to do with Hemingway’s novel, though it will appear again at the end.

There used to be a railway station called Ghanta, on the narrow gauge line from Champaner Road to Pani Mines in Gujarat:


This picture is probably from before the 1980s, before the bell tolled for this and many other narrow gauge lines (mainly in Gujarat). Many other lines such as the Satpura network had enough traffic to justify conversion.

The village of Ghanta appears to be in Vadodara district, but is too obscure to appear in Google Maps.

Here is an extract from the 1943 Bradshaw:

Champaner branch

As you can see, our station was served by only one pair of trains daily. The timetables of the 1970s were similar.

Champaner Road is on the Mumbai-Delhi main line, between Vadodara and Godhra. No important train stops there now.

It has nothing to do with the Champaner of Lagaan, which was shot at a place in Kutch district.

And the Ghanta has become symbolic of other things in India, such as this:

which may have been inspired by the Razzie awards of Hollywood.

Footnote: the title of Hemingway’s novel is from a poem by the 17th-century poet John Donne. Many of us would have come across this poem in school or college: