Quick quiz: Places in South Asia

(Answers are given below the respective questions)

The best response was by Debatra Majumdar.

  1. What connects these places? (Hint: Think beyond the railways)

They were major air bases of the British and US air forces during WW2. Now they are disused. A few, like Kalaikunda, are still in use.

2. This may be simpler. It is easy to see what connects these places. Each of them corresponds to a station in India. Name them.

(Darsana)

(Biral)

(Rohanpur)

Benapole: Petrapole

Darsana: Gede

Biral: Radhikapur

Rohanpur: Singhabad

Chilahati: Haldibari

3. Each of these stations corresponds to a station in India. Name the latter.

Jassar: Dera Baba Nanak

Wagah: Atari

Zero Point: Munabao

(Note: Zero Point is now called Marvi. No picture with this board could be found).

4. This used to be an important junction in Pakistan’s Punjab, and is close to India’s border. What was it called in the 1940s? Hint: think of a place where the Dalai Lama stays most of the time.

Macleodganj Road Jn, listed in timetables of the 1940s. The Dalai Lama stays in Mcleodganj, near the town of Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh.

5. This station used to be on the NWR. But is neither in India nor Pakistan. Where is it?

Iran. This is between the Pakistan border and Zahidan. (Is the board in Farsi?)

6. This junction is for the branch to Pakistan’s northern-most terminus. Name the latter.

A branch from Taxila Cantt runs to Havelian, presently the northern-most station open in Pakistan. It is the railhead for Abbottabad. Earlier the northern-most station was Dargai on a branch from Nowshera.

7. This abandoned station was on the line connecting cities in India and Pakistan. Name them.

This is Ranbirsinghpura, the last station in India on the Jammu-Sialkot line which closed in 1947. Suchetgarh was the last station in Pakistan, although the village of that name seems to be in India.

8. What is special about this minor station in Bangladesh?

Dohazari is on a branch from Chittagong. It was built in the 1920s as the first stage of a line to Burma. No further progress was made.

9. This is a station in India. What is unusual about it?

This station is in India. Earlier there was a station with the same name in Bangladesh. The town extends over both countries.

10. What is common between these stations in different parts of Bangladesh?

(Hili)

Hili and Quasba are in Bangladesh but very close to the Indian border.

Stations which span different states…or countries

There are a few stations in India which span different states.

This one came to light recently. Dilwa is on the Gurpa-Gujandih ghat section near Gaya on the Delhi-Kolkata route.

It is nominally in Jharkhand, as mentioned here: https://indiarailinfo.com/station/map/dilwa-dlw/2738

However, you will see this on the platform:

Credits to Debapriya Chakraborty for this discovery.

A couple of other such stations are better known:

Navapur, nominally in Maharashtra on the Surat-Bhusaval section:

https://indiarailinfo.com/station/map/navapur-nwu/211

However, part of this station lies in Gujarat:

Not sure whether these markings are accurate.

One can make jokes about this bench being partly in a dry zone, enabling alcohol to be consumed only on one side.

Another one which has been round for a long time is Bhawani Mandi, nominally in Rajasthan:

https://indiarailinfo.com/station/map/bhawani-mandi-bwm/886

But you will see these signs:

Then there is Hili station in Bangladesh. The boundary commission decided that the railway line itself was to be the border between India and East Pakistan. This becomes apparent here:

Looking from the Indian side. The wall and the rail line are in Bangladesh.

Also see this picture taken from a Bangladeshi train:

Note the cows grazing just within Bangladeshi territory marked by the stone. Clearly they have no problem in crossing the border. Hope they know which side is safer for them.

More weird things happened in the partition of Berlin which became more stringent after the Berlin Wall came up in 1961. While a number of roads and railways were blocked by barriers, there were special cases like Wollank Strasse station on the S-Bahn (which was largely on the surface, unlike the U-Bahn which was largely underground):

This station actually lay in East Berlin. But this platform opened out to a street in West Berlin.

Trains ran through from one side of West Berlin to another, and passengers could board or get down here.

However, no train stopped on the other track-as the Berlin Wall was right next to it. And the East Berliners in the buildings on the right could see the West Berliners going about their lives at this station and beyond.

Bornholmer Strasse, which featured in various novels and films set in the Cold War, is adjacent to this station:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Bornholmer_Stra%C3%9Fe_station

How many railway stations in India?

This is a question which could not be answered easily. A rough estimate some years ago would have been 7000-8000. Finally we have a more accurate answer.

This appears in a document called “National Rail Plan”-Draft Final Report dated 2000. On page 91 we have this:

Depending on how you count, the number could be anything from 7349 onwards.

Why does this station exist? – continued.

While most railway routes run between major cities, the stations in between would include fairly large stations which may not be justified by the local population. These could be junctions which have to be at particular locations, or loco sheds and watering/coaling points at suitable intervals preferably with a good water supply, or workshops which need space as well as a suitable supply of skilled and unskilled labor.

I am giving a few samples of each case. This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing, and anyone who wants to enumerate all cases in each category is welcome to do so.

Junctions in small places:

Amla, Arakkonam, Bhusaval, Bina, Daund, Dornakal, Gomoh, Gudur, Guntakal, Itarsi, Jolarpettai, Katni, Kazipet, Kharagpur, Khurda Road, Kiul, Lumding, Manmad, Mughal Sarai, Shoranur, Tundla, Villupuram, Viramgam.

(Of course, some like Mughal Sarai are not too far from larger urban centres.)

Rajasthan has a number of these, e.g. Bandikui, Bayana, Degana, Luni, Marwar, Merta Road, Phulera, Ratangarh.

Loco sheds in small places:

(These include those which are not junctions):

Abu Road, Balharshah, Bitragunta, Dongargarh, Gangapur City, Jhajha.

Major railway workshops/offices in small places not counted so far:

Adra, Alipur Duar, Chakradharpur, Chittaranjan, Dahod, Danapur, Jagadhri, Jamalpur, Kapurthala, Marhaura, Mariani, Podanur, Rangiya, Rewari, Yelahanka.

Sometimes one can guess why a steam loco shed (or at least a watering point) was located at a particular place, considering that steam locos had to stop every 150-200 km.

Considering the Mumbai-Delhi (WR) route:

Valsad is 194 km from MMCT and 197 km from Vadodara.

Gangapur City is 171 km from Kota and 153 km from Mathura.

Try to see the logic of the location of Bitragunta, Dongargarh, Jhajha etc.

However, Balharshah gets in because it was the junction between the GIPR and Nizam’s State Railway, where most trains changed their locos.

City in the news

This small city in Western Uttar Pradesh is in the news.

It is unusual in that there are 4 different stations with that small city’s name.

If you take the trouble to study the geography, you will see that Hathras Jn is a small town centred around the station. While this is on the BG main line from Delhi to Allahabad, Hathras Road is on a (former MG, now BG) branch which crosses the main line. So they are practically at the same location. Part of Hathras Road station is on a bridge which crosses the main line at one end of Hathras Jn. This would be apparent from the picture of Hathras Road above.

Hathras City (the main town) is on the same branch line mentioned above which is on the North Eastern Railway. Hathras Killah is on a short branch line from Hathras Jn.

They are on the North Central Railway.

Confusing? See if this helps:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/search/Hathras+Jn/@27.60885,78.0931984,14z

Mendu is a small station lying between Hathras Road and Hathras City.

From the map, you can also see that Killah and City are quite close.