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Previous post on Chenab rail Bridge is here.

Just been to the site again. The bridge work is in progress. A few spans have been laid. However, completion is still a long way off.

Chinab Rail Bridge Feb 2016 (6)

Chinab Rail Bridge Feb 2016 (2)

Did this drive in Hyundai Santro. In June 2015

Day One

  • Vadodara 000
  • Bharuch / Surat (Readings not taken as they are recorded elsewhere on this blog)
  • Gandeva 176
  • Rankuwa 190
  • Khadakla 210
  • Bansda 213
  • Vaghai-Dang 229
  • Baripada 268
  • Malegao 279
  • Saputara 281 (Gujarat-Maharashtra border)
  • Vani 317
  • Dindori 333
  • Nashik 360 (Night Halt)

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Day Two

  • Devlali 370
  • Ghoti-Sinnar highway touch 388
  • Sinnar 407
  • Sangamner Phata 439
  • Chandnapuri Ghat 460
  • Ghargaon 477
  • Alephata 494
  • Narayangaon 509
  • Kalamb 518
  • Manchar 523
  • Peth Phata 532
  • Rajgurunagar 542
  • Chakan 554
  • Moshi 560
  • Bhosri 570
  • Nashik Phata 574
  • Pune 580

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Did a very long and exciting drive from Vadodara to Jammu in the month of July 2014 but misplaced the paper on which the km-readings were jotted. Found it back only now.

Reproducing only the readings of JaipurJammu portion, as the details for the balance sections are available elsewhere on my blog.

Delhi - Jammu

Distances table

Ghora Gali (The Horse Pass) sounds like the name of a specific place. But in Pir Panjal mountains of Jammu & Kashmir it is a generic term that indicates a fascinating feature that is a relic of a bygone time. Dotting the landscape in the most unexpected sites are countless (because nobody seems to have counted them so far!) striking sculptures of warhorses and horsemen that date back to an unknown age.

This is the general area:

Map

The horses are unfailingly found to be poised at some  pass that lies on a foot or cart track. Fantastic stories about they being cursed creatures of some mythical age are told.The sculptures are also said to date back to Mahabharata period. However, I am personally not sure about their origin. Dispassionately thinking, one is inclined to conclude that they are no more that navigational landmarks for convoys of traders and warriors who used to pass over these inhospitable mountains regularly once upon a time.

Most of the horses now lie in a state of utter neglect. Many are lying broken into pieces. It is not uncommon to find, in a remote mountain  village, a broken horse serving as a washing stone outside a hut.

The reasons for this are not far to seek. Firstly, advent of motorable roads has obscured these old routes of travel and thus rendered the horse sculptures obscure. Secondly, the population in this area has now turned almost entirely Muslim and these ‘Hindu’ artefacts are probably considered distasteful.

1.

Horsemen near Jamsalan village along GoolMahore road. This place is not connected road and takes about an hour’s walk to reach. The blue tint is on account of the rainy mountain weather and also camera settings I forgot to change.

Ghora Gali near village Jamsalan (2)

Ghora Gali near village Jamsalan (7)

Ghora Gali near village Jamsalan (8)

Ghora Gali near village Jamsalan (5)

Ghora Gali near village Jamsalan (1)

2.

The Horsemen near Gool town are located right next to GoolRamban road and thus easy to visit.

The pen in the first picture is for the purpose of giving an idea of scale.

Ghora Gali near Gool (13)

Ghora Gali near Gool (11)

Ghora Gali near Gool (3)

Ghora Gali near Gool (2)

Ghora Gali near Gool (1)

A global wonder is taking shape in India. The Chenab Railway Bridge on the railway line to Kashmir, is an awe-inspiring project, the scale and ambition of which can only be appreciated with a real-life visit to the site.

The journey to the location – Kuri village near Reasi in Jammu & Kashmir – is a torture ride on back-breaking mountain roads which is somewhat redeemed by the fierce, breathtaking visual beauty of the landscape.

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Chenab keeps one company during almost the entire journey.

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As the road climbs high, a spaceship-like structure swings into view. It is the warehouse constructed by the railways for construction material and equipment. In the serene mountain village, it looks quite incongruous.

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The road has been built by the railways specifically for the construction work. It is among the 700-odd km of roads built for this purpose at various sites from Katra to Laole.

Just a few km ahead, lies the bridge site.

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The bridge will be built across a gaping, fearsome ravine of Chenab river, with vertical cliffs hundreds of metres high, on its either side. The mighty river looks like a mere spill from the top.

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Presently, no physical connectivity of any kind exists between the two banks of the river. To move the material and, later, to place the bridge components across the river, four towers of eye-popping height have been erected. Atop these sit huge cranes with mechanical arms, lifting and moving stuff across the sky.

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These towers have to cater for the strong winds that can easily break them and send them toppling into the torrent below. To safeguard against this, the towers keep balance only on a single shock absorber-like spring, with the four legs merely serving to control the rocking motion.

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The approach to the bridge will be constructed along these concrete pillars. The huts in the photo should serve to give an idea of the scale.

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Trucks ferrying excavated earth on the other side look no bigger than ants.

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The locals proudly point out the temple of the local deity Chanaina Devi. The railways built the temple to propitiate the Goddess as the work faced major hiccups. Apparently, it has been smooth sailing since then.

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The original holy stone that denoted the deity before the temple usurped the devotion, lies outside in open but, apparently, continues to beget respect.

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Back at the site office, a scale (?) model of the bridge can be seen.

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This is how the bridge will look after completion.

Chenab Bridge

——

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The name Reasi won’t ring a bell in most minds. Quite naturally, since it is neither a pilgrim destination nor a holiday hotspot, in spite of being a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also overshadowed by its incredibly famous neighbour, Katra (base of Vaishno Mata shrine). But Reasi too possesses enough attributes of its own that can entice an accidental tourist. Soon it will be connected by rail. Perhaps that will help its cause!

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Reasi is charmingly small and nestles comfortably in a collective embrace of Pir Panjal foothills and River Chenab, in the lap of a really tiny fortress, known as Bhimgarh. Major restoration work is underway at the fortress.

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The landscape is truly bewitching. But it would be a folly to mistake Reasi for a hill station. In summers, the place boils over at 42’C and is eminently avoidable.

Reasi J&K (9)

A number of tiny shrines dot the countryside around Reasi. Most of them are caves in mountains which earned their name after some ascetic who made his home there. (Shiv Khori is, of course, the best-known among them).

Such as Sihad Baba shrine, just across River Chenab.

Reasi J&K (14)

Salal dam and hydropower project on Chenab is situated close to Reasi. Surrounded by mighty mountains, it makes a magnificent sight.

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The valleys around the town are quite serene. Low population density makes it a very quiet place even in daytime. In fact, a heavenly, calming silence is the overbearing impression that one is likely to retain after a visit.

Vignettes:

A venerated local deity

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School girls playing kho kho (Photo clicked from the top of the Bhimgarh fort)

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Bee-boxes laid out for collecting honey.

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Mango tree in blossom (It is the month of May)

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A view of River Chenab on way to Salal hydropower project

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A temple and pond

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Posting some of the bird pics taken at Bharatpur in January this year. Most of them were clicked by my wife.

We missed the Saras crane.

1. Spotted Owlets

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2. Purple Heron

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3. Snake Bird

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4. Dabchik

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5. Lesser Whistling Ducks

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6. Purple Moor Hen

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7. Magpie Robin (National Bird of Bangladesh)

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8. Great Egret

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9. Bar Headed Geese

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10. Rufous Treepie

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11. Collared Scoff Owl

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12. Great White Pelican

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13. Northern Shoveller

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14. Indian Roller

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15. Painted Storks

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16. Greater Coucal

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17. Common Coot

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18. Grey Heron

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19 and 20. Common Teal and Pochard

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21. Pond Heron

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22. Cormorant

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23. Asian Openbill

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24 and 25. The reptiles (Python and Monitor Lizard)

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