On May 21, 1995, a historic event took
place in this sylvan land. A 124.5 metre long triangulated steel girder,
weighing 680 tonnes, was launched for the new bridge across the Mandovi
River. The launching took place in a record time of 18 hours. The gigantic
girder was fabricated in the central railway workshop at Manmad, in the
state of Goa, transported to the site in pieces and assembled on the
southern bank of the river. It was then pulled onto a special pile jetty to
where a floating crane, nicknamed Sahyadri, picked it up, to launch it 15
metres above the water level. The distance of 184 metres to the Sahyadri
took 14 days to cover.
While there have been delays and escalations in costs, the railway is, for
the major part, on track. The Konkan Railway Corporation decided internally
to work towards a four-year deadline; the target date had been set for
October 1995, by which date work should be complete. However, by this date,
the green signals had been turned on for part of the way. On March 23, 1993,
the 68-km Mangalore-Udupi section was opened, and on September 27, 1993, it
was the turn of the 47-km Roha-Veer track. This was extended to Khed at
52-km, by the end of April 1995. Another stretch of 32-km from Udupi to
Kundapura was commissioned for passenger traffic by the end of March 1995.
In the year 1998, when the railway got fully operational, there were five
freight trains running each day, and this is expected to increase to seven.
In addition, most of the express trains going to Kerala from Northern India
are taking the Konkan Railway route, which easies traveling experience for
the travelers from Delhi.
Also on the anvil is a luxury train especially meant for tourists, on the
lines of the Palace-On-Wheels in Rajasthan. Like the other trains on the
route, it will pass through picturesque land, rich with forests full of teak
and sandal wood, eucalyptus and bamboo, where the Sambar roam and the
leopards arch their backs against the trees. You can feel close to nature
even as you hurtle past, looking down into valleys from the viaducts, being
at one with the flow of rivers that lie beneath. And when it is time to step
out, there will be several dozen new places to explore, places that have so
far been almost impossible to reach.
Attractions Along The Konkan Coast
The southwestern coast of India provides the traveller with rich and varied
scenery. Along the Konkan Coast of Maharashtra, the hills are carpeted with
tropical forests, the landscape enriched with Tamarind, Bamboo, Coconut,
Areca Nut, Cashew and Grapefruit, and of course, the Alphonso Mango in
Ratnagiri. Raigad district, where Roha is located, was once the stronghold
of the 17th century Maratha chieftain Shivaji Maharaj and has the famous
Raigad hill fort.
At Chiplun, in the Ratnagiri district, catch the spectacular views along
the postcard-pretty Vashishti River, reddish-orange earth nestling at the
feet of basalt and laterite rocks. It is said that oysters, some of them
pearl bearing, may be found along the coastline here. Kundal, the
headquarters of the Sindhudurg district is an industrial area with numerous
factories as well as a number of small temples scattered around.
Goa, 40 beaches dot the coastline, but less than 50-km.across are some of
the best-preserved mangroves in South East Asia, with waterfalls cascading
from the Western Ghats. At Caranzole, on Goa's border with Karnataka,
is a King Cobra habitat, a bird sanctuary and wildlife sanctuary where one
can spot bison, antelopes and perhaps a lone elephant keeping watch.
Kodagu, or Coorg, in Karnataka state, on the way to Mangalore is known for
its acres of India's finest coffee plantations. Mangalore, historically
a ship-building centre, now a growing commercial city, where travellers can
halt for a few days before connecting with the central railway into Kerala,
along the spice coast of India, the air fragrant with the scent of cardamom
At Kochi, a tropical coastal paradise, relax and take in the sun, sea and
the backwaters; it is the perfect end to an unforgettable coastal ride along
India's west coast.
(Facilities on the konkan railway include a first class compartment and a
pantry car serving thali meals, planned to be introduced mid 1996.)