Our first stop is in Punjab, where Punjabi is the official language. Signboards in railway stations are expected to be in English, Hindi as well as the state’s official language if it is not English or Hindi.
We see that “Chhavni” is the word for “Cantonment” in Hindi and Punjabi, although some places use Cantt in these languages.
Now to Uttarakhand, where the official languages are Hindi and Sanskrit. Earlier Urdu was an official language when UK was part of UP. See the old and new signs here:
(New). Note the addition and subtraction of languages.
In UP, the official languages are Hindi and Urdu (but not Sanskrit). Now see some newly painted signs:
This is the old sign for Manduadih, a suburb of Varanasi. Recently it was renamed:
Note that both Sanskrit and Urdu are here.
The main station in Varanasi is:
They haven’t thought of adding Sanskrit here. Surely this station is more deserving than Manduadih, which most people outside this area have never heard of.
One more example of old and new:
New. It is not to be confused with the existing Ayodhya:
Here is another city in UP:
Now, what will strike you is that “Chhavni” is the standard word for “Cantonment” in Hindi-speaking states and neighboring states.
Why does the Hindi inscription at Ayodhya Cantt have “Cantt” and the Sanskrit inscription “Chhavni”? Isn’t there any suitable word in Sanskrit?
Finally we visit a few more stations elsewhere in India:
In Southern India, Hindi script could have Chhavni or Cantonment.
And in Bengal and Bangladesh, “Cantonment” is used in Hindi as well as Bengali:
The last one is Chattogram Cantonment.
Stop trying to look for consistency in languages used and in nomenclature. There isn’t any.
An average railfan would have seen the station of Bhortex in the WR timetable, and wondered how this “non-Indian” spelling came there. However, this is what you will see there:
This is in Maharashtra, on the Surat-Bhusaval section. You can see that it is spelt Bhortek (in English, Hindi and Marathi). A look at maps of the area confirms this. In fact, the timetable entry changed to Bhortex some years ago. It looks like a clerical error by the timetable department. But no one has bothered to change it. Bhortex also remains in the RBS site.
Another persistent error relates to this station:
This is in Punjab, near the Punjab-HP border on the Kangra Valley line. Anyone slightly familiar with Indian history would realize that the spelling is correct. This station serves the hill station of that name. But the NR timetables and the RBS site have chopped the last E for several years, and display Dalhousi Road today. This would again been a clerical error which no one has bothered to correct.
Now to Jharkhand, on the Gomoh-Daltonganj branch and not far from McCluskieganj we have:
The station is listed as Gumia. In the locality both Gumia and Gomia are used, especially as the only large industrial unit there uses Gomia. It appears that the local practice was initially to spell it Gumia, though Gomia became more widespread since the 1960s. Now even the station sign says Gomia, but the timetables and RBS still stick to the old name.
There are many instances of British names becoming Indianized, such as Worsleyganj becoming Waris Aleganj and McDonald’s Choultry becoming Magudan Chavadi. But there is one odd example from Bareilly in UP. You would have heard of the divisional headquarters at Izatnagar. Or is it Izzatnagar?
When you reach this station, you will see these signs:
So which is correct? In the vicinity you will see both varieties being used in shops and offices.
It was indeed Izatnagar to start with, named after a British railway manager named Alexander Izat. There is also an Izat Bridge elsewhere on the NER near Allahabad. But somehow the word “Izzat” crept in, and now features in the timetable and RBS.
But we can see that no one in the railways seems to care if the signs with different spellings are standing in close proximity.
Other misspellings have lasted for a few years before being corrected. Examples would be “Duckyard Road” for this:
This is in Mumbai on the Harbour Branch. Far away in the Nilgiris, this station
was listed as “Hillgroove” for some years. (These mistakes may have been because “duckyard” and “groove” are valid English words).
There are, of course, numerous stations where you will find signboards with different spellings, often on the same platform. Some well-known ones are Hafizpet/peta and Washer(man/men)pet which you can still see today.
We close with a station in a relatively remote part of Rajasthan, between Bandikui and Bharatpur. It is listed as Tarchhera Baraoli Ran. This is what you will see there:
So someone, either at the NWR headquarters or the local painter has messed up.
But if you check Google maps for this locality (at 27.21 N, 77.10 E) it is shown as Talchera Baraoliran. That is what the sign says. So the timetable is wrong again.
Now, does this really matter to most people including railway passengers of the area? Not really, since they usually know where they are going regardless of what the timetable or sign says.
But it does seem to show that the station sign is more likely to be correct than the official website or timetable.
Anyone seeking to create a practical railway guide or map should keep this in mind. In most cases pictures of the sign can be found in the site https://indiarailinfo.com/ at the entry for the particular station.
After solving the mystery of T-Sakibanda , the Special Investigative Team turned its attention to mysterious names in Karnataka. They are relatively new, as they came up in the last decade on the Bengaluru-Hassan line via Shravanabelagola. We first take up B.G. Nagar station:
All the languages mention only the initials B.G. Looking in the map of the surroundings, there is no immediate clue to the full form of B.G. Nagar.
There is however the BGSIT or BGS Institute of Technology nearby:
So now you know what the B.G. stands for. You could not expect the full name to come on the station sign. Case closed.
Our next visit is to D. Samudhravalli, further west after Shravanabelagola.
Here you can see that D is followed by a full stop. What does D stand for?
The station is at a place called Samudravalli while D Samudravalli is another place which is not on the railway.
That still does not help us.
By googling for Samudravalli, we identify a nearby place called B Samudravalli.
It looks like there are different places called A, B, C and D Samudravalli as it needs to be administered in four parts.
The Special Investigative Team is looking for more such cases to study. So far they could find BEML Nagar and VOC Nagar which are easy to expand. So some more place names with odd initials will have to be identified.