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 between them.

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. Odiya has also departed.

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 Alan was born in 1912, 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

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:

Elsewhere in England we can see stations for these Test venues:

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

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

and then

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

Note that the name Amla is supposed to be derived from “Ammunition Lands” as it has one the largest ammunition depots in the country. This is probably one of the numerous urban legends of its kind.

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.

And finally this one in India which reminds one of Sri Lanka: