The ultimate multilingual signs in India

There are at least two station signs in India which have signs in 5 languages. They are not far apart, but in different states:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARaichur station-5 languages

The upper one is in Telangana, and the lower one is in Karnataka. While traveling from Mumbai to Chennai you will pass both. Raichur is about 26 km to the south of Krishna. Many express trains stop at both, taking about 40 minutes.

However, there is this one from the 1940s:

Vizianagaram ( very old)

This is in the north-eastern part of Andhra Pradesh, not far from Odisha. In the 1940s it was part of the Madras Presidency which stretched all the way to Odisha (including Chatrapur where it is said that Alan Turing was conceived.)^ So you see Telugu, Odiya, Hindi, English and Urdu.

Some years later we see:

Vizianagaram (old)

Still 4 languages, with Urdu gone. The English spelling has changed slightly. This would be some time after 1966. But it was never on the South Central Railway.

Today it looks like this:


This follows the usual three-language formula.

Those familiar with Indian cricket would have heard of this place because of this person:

As he was the second son of the ruler, his official title was Maharajkumar and not Maharaja. He is generally known for being an incompetent cricketer and commentator, though he did play some useful role in administration.

^ Alan Turing’s father was in the Madras Presidency cadre of the ICS, and was posted in places which are now in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. He was posted in Chatrapur at the time Alan was conceived. His mother then went to England where he was born, and he never visited India.


Views of the Indian Railways in 1944

Some collections on the net include pictures taken by US servicemen serving in India during World War 2. A few samples:

Thadi (very old)

This is between Visakhapatnam (then Waltair) and Rajahmundry. It now looks like this:

Thadi (new)

Like most of the Golden Quad, the route is now double-tracked and electrified. This station was then on the Madras & Southern Mahratta Railway, then Southern Railway and now the South Central Railway.

Another one from the East Coast. Probably this city is more well known because of its cricket connection:

Vizianagaram ( very old)

Note the presence of 5 languages including Urdu and Telugu. It was then part of the Madras Presidency which extended up to Chatrapur in present-day Odisha. This station was then on the Bengal Nagpur Railway, later the Eastern Railway for a short time, then South Eastern and finally the East Coast Railway.

Here is another picture some years later (maybe the 1970s):

Vizianagaram (old)

By now it was part of Andhra Pradesh. Someone seems to think it was on the South Central Railway, but it never was. It still had Odiya due to its closeness to the state border. This is what it looks like today:


By now it strictly follows the 3-language format with the local language at the top, followed by Hindi and English. However, a number of stations close to the state borders still have signs in the language of the neighboring state. Examples can be found in Jharkhand (Bengali), Kerala/Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka/Telangana among others.

This one also dates from 1944 and is better known:

Sealdah 1944

This is obviously Sealdah as in those days all destinations to the east of the Hooghly were covered by the Sealdah-based Eastern Bengal Railway. At that time it had been merged with the Assam Bengal Railway to form the Bengal & Assam Railway, which itself ceased to exist at partition. However, East Pakistan used the title of Eastern Bengal Railway for all lines in its territory until 1961. The remnants lying in India essentially became the Sealdah Division of the East Indian Railway and then the Eastern Railway.

Most trains from Calcutta to the East ran via the Ranaghat-Darsana route which is still used by the Maitri Express. The border station of Gede did not exist then.

Trains going to the Jessore and Khulna side went via Bongaon-Benapol. The border station of Petrapol came up later.

I am trying to reconcile these timings with a Bradshaw of 1943 and will write more about the routes of these trains later. For the Darjeeling Mail route, see here

The Khulna route is described here

More stations which have a cricket connection

You may have read this earlier post:

The Test venues which have stations named after them include Lord’s (no longer in existence) and the Oval:


In India we have these small suburban stations at Eden Gardens and Chepauk. Both are relatively new, probably dating from the 1990s:

Note the Hindi spelling for “Cheppakkam”,one of the numerous Hindi signs you will find in Chennai with transliteration from Tamil (e.g. Chennai Kotte, Chennai Kodikarai). In contrast, the English, Bengali and Hindi signs all match at Eden Garden.

You would know of stations named Kohli, Sachin and Amla which have nothing to do with the cricketers concerned. But here are two stations which do refer to the states connected with three princely captains:

Pataudi is a rather small place in Haryana, and the locality around the station is better known as Hailey Mandi.

Vizianagaram is a somewhat larger town and important station in northern Andhra Pradesh, though “Vizzy” remained a prince as he was the second son and did not become the ruler. However, Iftekhar Ali Khan and his son Mansur Ali Khan did hold the title of Nawab of Pataudi.

Women’s cricket gets its due here, although it is doubtful if Mumbai-born Smriti Mandhana has anything to do with this place near Kanpur:



There are other people with connections to cricket whose names include place names. One was the one-Test player the Yuvraj of Patiala, also known as Yadavindra Singh. Patiala is not one of the larger cities of Punjab but is somehow well known, possibly because of the Patiala Peg* which was said to be devised by one of the rulers. Then there was Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was from the royal family of a small state now in Rajasthan.