National Geographic: The Great Indian Railway

Synopsis:
Year:
1995
6 Views

India is a land of dreams

Where images, however fleeting are

remembered long after the journey's end

The railway is her lifeline

crossing not only distances-

But bridging the boundaries of her

many cultures

For over 900 million people

the railway has become a great unifier

over one-and-a-half million must work

to keep it going

The great Indian railway touches

the lives of everyone

For nothing is more a part of

this country

than the trains which are part of

its soul

Over a century ago

the sound of the steam locomotive

could be heard across the land

as it rolled through the desert

and the plains of India

In those days

villages and cities were isolated

by vast distances

and the coming of the train would

change them forever

Legends were told of the great fire eater

that walked on lines of steel

and breathed white clouds of smoke

Those who did not fear it

came to see it for themselves

In remote outposts where there

were no stations

banyan trees often marked the train stop

And people anticipated its arrival

like the coming of a great ship

There was always entertainment

to greet the travelers

celebrating the trip

for the magical event that is was

What had taken weeks by bullock cart

could now be made in a matter of days

The hero was the driver

He was assigned one engine for life

and cared for it as though it were

a part of him

making sure it was fed coal and watered

It was like a living creature preparing

for the long journey ahead

If there ever was a heart

and soul of the railway

it began here

with these locomotives

They were the symbol of the

British Empire

and held the romance of an age

when men and machines united the country

for the first time

But this era couldn't last forever

Now, the super fast express trains

command the rails

and are moving India into a new century

The railway is a living legacy of

the British, who dominated the subcontinent

for nearly two hundred years

They laid down the first rails in 1850

and by Indian independence

dozens of railways

reached across hundreds of

princely states and territories.

Today, all have been merged into one

Stretching nearly 40,000 miles

and connecting over 7,000 stations

it is the largest railway under a single

management in the world

The frontier Mail, the Tamil-Nadu Express

the Punjab Mail

all long-distance trains,

renowned in history

But one of the oldest is

the Grand Trunk Express

and it travels nearly

the length of the country

Indians love to travel

whether it be on a religious pilgrimage

or to visit relatives far away

They pack everything and bring everyone

They can go anywhere in the country

for less than seven dollars

Space has a whole different meaning

on an Indian train

People like to sit next to each other

talk and share stories

And a stranger isn't a stranger for long

More than 11,000 trains

Travel through India everyday

But it's in the three-tier second-class

coaches that

the real spirit of the country

can be found

If anyone wants to know what India

is all about

you could just travel

in one of these trains

and you could talk to people

you see

You'll actually meet people from

different parts of the country

and you can actually have a look

into the various cultures

you see, now there's

a cultural diversity in India

You can actually enjoy this

cultural diversity traveling

in such long trains say from

which go from one end of the nation

to the other end

Such long trains you can enjoy

if you are really interested

you'll definitely

you will experience it

Every Indian train has ticketless

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