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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Relishing travel - Train No. 17643 - Circar Express

Train journey is most enjoyable as one can spend time leisurely eating the choicest delicacies and look through the window the different culture, fields, people and everything as the train chughs past different areas.  Interestingly, Indian Trains have Names besides the Numbers. As you would know, Trains now have 5 digit numbers – earlier they were 4 digits.  I have travelled so many times in this particular train no. 7043 [Chennai Central to Kakinada] – now it is 17643 [Chennai Egmore to Kakinada]

Photo Courtesy :

Most trains are named after Gods, rivers and important places in the origin or destination – but this one is a bit different  - it is known as Circar Express !

The word ‘Circar’ – noun would mean a District or part of a Province. This is a common word to old timers as there was the ‘Northern Circar’  - which was a former division of British India's Madras Presidency, which consisted of a narrow slip of territory lying along the western side of the Bay of Bengal in the present-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The territory derived its name from Circar or Sarkar, a term applied to the component parts of a subah or province, each of which is administered by a deputy governor. These Northern Circars were five in number, Chicacole (Srikakulam), Rajahmundry, Ellore (Eluru), Kondapalli and Guntur. After changing hands frequently between the Bahamani Sultans, the Mughals, the Nizams of Hyderabad and the French, the British finally took over in 1768.

Circar was the region mainly corresponding to Coastal Andhra and comprised some of the modern day places in the districts of Krishna, Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Guntur and some in Orissa. History has that in  1687 the Circars were added, along with the Golconda Sultanate, to the extensive empire of Aurangzeb. Subsequently the Mughal empire disintegrated.  Masulipatnam was a fortress which saw some battles.  In 1765 Robert  Clive obtained from the Mughal emperor Shah Alam a grant of the five Circars. Thus over the years the possession of these places and the geographical pattern kept changing.   The Northern Circars were governed as part of Madras Presidency until India's independence in 1947, after which the presidency became India's Madras state. The northern, Telugu-speaking portion of Madras state, including the Northern Circars, was detached in 1953 to form the new state of Andhra state. Andhra state was merged with Telangana in 1956 to form the state of Andhra Pradesh.  Kakinada became the District HQ of East Godavari District. 

Madras Presidency officially the Presidency of Fort St. George and also known as Madras Province, was an administrative subdivision of British India.

Now getting back to Circar Express the train – it runs from Madras to Kakinada.    The city of Kakinada is the HQ of East Godavari Dist and is known as Fertilizer city due to the presence of big Fertilizer units of NFCL, GFCL etc.,  It also has names of ‘Pensioner’s paradise’ and old timers were happy in calling it ‘Second Madras’.  Kakinada in fact is a planned, neat peaceful city.  There are several edible oil refineries and the Port has become busy now a days.

The people of Kakinada are very affable and are characterized by Godavari Telugu accent.  The region has the reputation of being very hospitable, polite and cultured.  People here frequently use a common suffix ‘andi’ just like ‘aiyah’ in Tamil – ‘ji’ in Hindi denoting respect to the other person.  Off the cuff, there is a unique sweet made of maida dipped in sugar syrup known as ‘kaaja’ and a shop in the Main road ‘Kotiah Kajah’ has been selling this for generations – reportedly from 1900s.

The train now emanating from Chennai Egmore more than 16 hours for covering 700 odd kilometers primarily because it runs in a circuitous route.  From Chirala, Bapatla, Tenali, it goes to Guntur before coming to Bezawada [Vijayawada] – the trains in the Coromandel route run through Eluru, Tadepalligudem but Circar from Vijayawada goes to Gudivada, Akividu, Bhimavaram, Attili, Tanuku before getting back to the main route at Niddadavolu.  Again a small detour it touches Godavari Station before going to Rajahmundry; a couple of small stations  at Dwarapudi and Anaparti, it stops at Samalkot (Samarlakota) then branches off to Kakinada Town, finally resting at Kakinada Port.

An enjoyable journey it would be and my memory longs back to those olden days, when I was travelling almost twice a month on this train.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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  6. Now Circar Express starts from Chengalpattu (4:30PM) and runs thru Egmore/Beach station before getting on the main line that goes towards Gudur/Vijayawada.

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