Kadur-Chikmagalur railway line is finally thrown open to public from November 19, brings with it a sense of cheer among locals. “We were little school boys in the 1940s. We were very excited to hear when people told us that a rail will come to Chikmagalur,” said a nostalgic SN Srikanta, a 76-year-old man from Chikmagalur who now lives in Bangalore, “The rail has come, but after a long wait.”
To Srikanta, whose father and uncles fought for the country’s freedom, the train means a lot more than just a whistle-blowing chain of bogies. It is the realisation of an 87-year-old dream of the people of his district.
Chikmagalur is a commercial hub that attracted Europeans for cultivation of tea, coffee and rubber. During British rule, public exerted pressure on authorities to launch the Kadur-Chikmagalur railway line due to which the then district board collected a railway cess of Rs5.5 lakh.
The project, however, was turned out when a survey by British rulers reported poor economic feasibility.
“I used to play badminton with railway survey people,” Srikanta narrated, “and watch Britishers play cricket in our district. It is also believed that cricket was introduced to India by Europeans from Chikmagalur.”
To S Shivaram who resided in Chikmagalur for 65 years, the train reminds him of his primary school days. “We used to joke about the train and form a human chain as we sang Train-to-Chikmagalur. We didn’t look at it beyond a joke,” the former high-school teacher said.
He pointed out that there were no serious attempts by leaders to make it real.
After Independence, the railway department conducted another long term survey that once again reflected lack of commercial viability. The then chief minister, K Hanumanthaiah, sanctioned a cement-concrete road instead, so that the two places could be connected. After a series of developments, the project that took several years to be completed is now ready to be of service.