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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Google doodle on India's first passenger train - 160 years ago


Read that the city of Thane is situated on the western banks of Thane creek with Parsik hills on the east and Yeour hills on the west. It claims a rich heritage and long history, when it was known as Shreesthanak and was the Capital of the Shilahar dynasty. It traces its history to the Vedic period and another ancient name is stated to be ‘Aparant’ ~ Greek historian Tolemi made mention of Thane. 

Sure any visitor to Mumbai cannot miss out that imposint ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus’ the historic railway station ~ the hq of Central Railways…….. earlier known as Victoria Gate…….. and further earlier called   ~ Bori Bunder ~ used as a storehouse for goods imported and exported from Mumbai. In the area's name, 'Bori' mean sack and 'Bandar' means Bhandaar or store; now for sure you have the  connect…… the regular quiz Q !

v      When was the first train in India run ?
v      Which were the stations connected by this run ?
v      Can you tell the date too ?
v      What is the name of the engines that pulled this inaugural train ?
v      How many kilo meters did the inaugural train run ? and more….

Indian Railways has come a long since that day in 1953 ~ this very day – 16th April 1953 – marking 160 years of that inaugural run.  The rail network which is the biggest employer,  traverses the length and breadth of the country, covering in 2011 a total length of 64,460 kilometres (40,050 mi).

If you are to search any of the Qs above in google – you will be pleasantly surprised to find the google doodle on Indian First Passenger train. The doodle has a train, pulled by a steam engine, chugging along over a background dotted with palm trees and a structure in the distance. Indeed, 16 April, 1853, was the day on which the first commercial passenger train left Mumbai's Bori Bunder for Thane. The train was pulled by three locomotives - Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib; was greeted by a 21 gun salute when it was pulling out of the platform.



According to some versions, this was not the first train as Railway lines had been there and used for hauling materials and most of these were pulled by horses…… there is another story on why the width of carriages or the lines were determined by the horses…

The first steam locomotive in the country was Thomason, commissioned in 1951 for hauling construction material in Roorkee for the Solani viaduct.  By all accounts, Saturday, the 16th of April, 1853, must be a memorable day in the annals of India, as  Great Indian Peninsula Rail way was this day inaugurated! At about two o'clock, the preparations for their reception being perfect, those who had accepted invitations to proceed in the train began to assemble, and by three o'clock the platform, three hundred feet long, with a continuation, was occupied as closely as it could be by European Ladies and European and Native Gentlemen. The platform was neatly matted, and, opportunely for the company, carefully screened on the western side not only from the rays of the sun, but from the high north wind which was blowing all the afternoon and carrying with it immense clouds of dust. The whiteness of the screen and the ceiling of the platform were tastefully relieved by festoons formed by flags and cloth of many colors. In front of the platform we counted eighteen flags: prominent among those in the early part of the afternoon, floated the ensign of St George of England, but it was soon displaced by the Union Jack. Captain Barr, and Mr. Roche, Traffic Manager, acted as Master of Ceremonies.

At half past three o'clock in the afternoon a royal salute was fired from the ramparts of Fort St. George, immediately after which the well-filled train, consisting of fourteen first, second, and third class carriages, drawn by three locomotive engines, and containing in all, it was said, about five hundred persons, started from the Terminus at Boree Bunder. It should have been a great sight for sure and many feared the oncoming train as a demon….

On 1853 the mileage open was a mere 20…… and in case you wonder what ‘Google doodles’  are : I had posted on earlier occasions too – it is the Google logo on search page which many a times are animated expressions.  Google puts special doodles marking special occasions and days.  Google doodles on homepage of the search engine has made it more fun and enjoyable for the users and nobody ever anticipated that it would become so popular.  Nowadays, many users excitedly anticipate the release of each new doodle and some even collect them!  

Salute Indian Railways

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
16th April 2013.

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