Zeros and signboards

First take a look at this sign in Kerala:


Not too clear why the place name (Nilambur) was not written in English. This relatively small place is served by this station:

Nilambur Road

This station has the code NIL. This is one of the numerous synonyms for zero or nothing. Some of them are:

This list of synonyms became popular at the time of the Delhi elections in 2015, while discussing the results of the Congress party. The BJP fared better with 3 seats, which made it an “Auto rickshaw party” as its MLAs would fit in one. In various parts of the country there are other auto rickshaw parties where the entire membership fits in one.

Some are not originally in English but have come into common use. Like Nada in Spanish.

Appropriately, there is another zero-themed place name in Kerala:

Nadapuram Road

And the railway across the Nullarbor Plain in Australia (the route of the famous Indian Pacific:

Then there is this place in Arunachal Pradesh:

Which is spelt both as Ziro and Zero. It has an airport which is supposed to have regular flights-at least, it did when Vayudoot was around:

Then there is Zero Road in Allahabad, which is perfectly logical:

Zero Bridge in Srinagar also has a perfectly logical explanation:

And of course there was actor Zero Mostel:

Even Salman Rushdie got into the act with the Maharani of Kooch Nahin, which must have been inspired by this place

Cooch Behar

although it is now served by this larger station:

New Cooch Behar

Finally, there is Zero Point station on the Pakistani side of the border which is reached via Munabao:




The Devil’s scoreboard and other devilry

It had to happen one day in a Test: 666/6


On the 4th day of the India vs England Test at Chennai, 19 Dec 2016.

Meanwhile, here is the Devil’s own locomotive (picture credit Sachin Balwatkar). It is now homed at Sabarmati shed, and was homed at Mhow some years ago. There were also some 666* s homed at Golden Rock.


More from the Devil’s domain here: Hell, Norway:


And the railway station there:


You may think that God has some influence here:


However, this is Norwegian for “Goods dispatch”

In closing, there has to be at least one joke involving devils. Here is one from 2016, which refers to the US presidential election:



Fruit on rails

A collection of picture of stations of the Indian Railways whose names involve fruit:


There is Mango, a suburb of Jamshedpur, which does not have a station. As Robert Vadra said, there is no space for the mango man in a banana republic.

Take a closer look at the sign for Sitafal Mandi in Hyderabad. It appears to be one of the old signs from the time of the Nizam’s State Railway, with the Hindi inscription added later.

One wonders how the citizens of Nagpur allowed a much smaller town to grab the title of Orange City.

And Amla may not be named after the fruit but is supposedly an acronym for “Ammunition Land”, where a large military storage facility exists.

Afterthought-Prior to partition, Afghanistan used to export fruits to different parts of India by train. These fruit trains usually started at Chaman (a railhead to the north of Quetta), travelled down the Bolan Pass and made their way to faraway places.






Stations which have a cricket connection

There are a number of cricket stadiums which have nearby stations with the same name, ranging from this one in London:


A station by the name of Lord’s existed in the past, but the section was closed in 1939. The nearest Tube station is St. John’s Wood. Details here:

In India, we have stations for Chepauk and Eden Gardens among others.

Also. if you travel from Mumbai to Surat, you will pass

Atul station

and then

Sachin station

The second one needs no explanation, while the first relates to the lesser-known international players Atul Wassan and Atul Bedade and possibly a few more.

The route north of Nagpur is more promising, as it has



followed by

Amla station

Note that the name Amla is supposed to be derived from “Ammunition Lands” as it has one the largest ammunition depots in the country.

Although Hashim Amla’s ancestors were from Gujarat this does not appear to be a common surname. Amla does mean a fruit (something like a gooseberry) in several Indian languages.

Also see:

There are also stations such as Pataudi Road and Vizianagaram which are indeed the places where the concerned player’s families were rulers.





Hyderabad and Gujrat are not only in India

Have a look at these pictures and decide whether they are in India or somewhere else:

Note the Sindhi signboard in the right picture, which should help you to locate it. The first one is in Pakistan’s Punjab.

The “other” Hyderabad can be reached from India by the Thar Express, which you board at Zero Point after leaving India from Munabao.

Bangalore to Mysore by rail: Renaming runs wild

First we take a look at different signs at SBC station, in its various avatars as Bangalore City, Bengaluru City and finally Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru Station). Also don’t ask why the S got into SBC.

Bangalore CityBengaluru CityKR Bengaluru station

But the average Bangalorean might prefer to stick to calling it Majestic, like the way Hyderabadis stick to Nampalli, Amdavadis to Kalupur and Banarsis to Cantt (well, it was officially known as Benares Cantt until the 1940s).

At the other end of the line 138 km away we have Mysore (now Mysuru):


Mysuru station

But the line between these cities has seen more than its share of renaming. Let us first look at an Indian Bradshaw entry from 1935:

Bangalore Mysore 1935

The reproduction is not too good, and the mileage is not visible in this scan. Odd things you can see here are Maddur listed as a junction (though no branch line from there is listed in this Bradshaw or anywhere else). And several place names do not appear in present timetables.

Here is an extract from an official website showing the timings of a passenger train between Bengaluru and Mysuru:

Bangalore Mysore TT 2015

Even this train does not stop at a few stations such as Krishnadevaraya Halt (5 km from SBC), Palahalli Halt (between S and NHY) and Mysuru New Goods Terminal (4 km before MYS) which is a pure goods station.

(Palahalli is apparently not on the present alignment but is still mentioned in railway documents).

Note the rare one-letter codes for Yeliyur (Y) and Shrirangapatna (S)

Apart from the changes to the names of SBC and MYS, we also note:

Closepet is now Ramanagaram (possibly it had been named after a British official)

French Rocks is now Pandavapura

Seringapatnam is now Srirangapattana (changing the simplified spelling of the British).

Other points of interest: the 1935 timetable shows 13 intermediate stations. The present slow passenger train stops at 19, while at least 3 more are known to exist.

Of course, there has been progress on this line. It was converted to broad gauge by the mid-90s and electrification continues at a snail’s pace-apparently it is complete up to Mandya. There is now a Shatabdi from Chennai along with numerous trains to different corners of the country. Even the former single track MG line is almost completely doubled apart from a short stretch outside Shrirangapattana where Tippu’s armoury building is being bodily shifted to make way for the new line, as you can see here:


Thanks to Raghavendra Rao and Sandeep Mohan for useful updates.








The ding and the dong

You would probably not think much of dings and dongs except in the context of bells (and American slang). However, the disambiguation feature of Wikipedia tells us about several other dings and dongs:

There are a couple of examples from India which Wikipedia did not catch-such as the small railway station of Ding in Haryana:,75.2582959,15z

It is served by a number of trains (mainly slow passenger trains) between Hisar and Bathinda.

You may also have heard of Ding as a derogatory term for Anglo-Indians. The internet has an explanation for this, apparently from a blogger from Tamil Nadu:

Not sure if that was to be taken seriously. However there is a traditional Anglo-Indian dish called ding ding, which is called jerky in other countries:

The dong has many more meanings including names and places, and even a large company based in Scandinavia:

Dong is a common name in China and Vietnam, where Pham van Dong was one of the architects of their victory over the US:

Then there is the Vietnamese dong, which until recently was the least valuable world currency unit. More recently the thinly traded Iranian rial has taken this position.

At the moment the US dollar will get you over 22,400 VND (Vietnamese dong). while the Indian rupee will get you over 330. Even the Indonesian rupiah will get you 1.6 VND. The most valuable currency unit is the Kuwaiti dinar, which will get you 3.29 US dollars, 221 Indian rupees or…73,800 Vietnamese dong.

And Dong is the easternmost village in India. Its population fits into three huts. You still have to travel about 20 km further east to reach the tri-junction of India, China and Myanmar.,_Arunachal_Pradesh

This map shows its location more clearly:,96.7613483,10z

There is no railway line anywhere in that area, though there are stations such as Dongargaon and Dongargarh:

This station used to have a large steam shed earlier. It lies in Chhattisgarh on the main line from Mumbai to Kolkata.

Then there is the more common American usage for the dong, which needs no explanation.

The dong had its place in Bollywood. In the early 90s the film “Tahalka” featured Amrish Puri as Dong, dictator of Dongrila. One catchphrase of his has persisted down the years: