“I first pictured not my town but just the railway station, which was a small platform with a banyan tree, a station master, and two trains a day, one coming and one going.”
R.K. Narayan may well have derived his inspiration for Malgudi Days from Carmelaram Railway Station in southeast Bangalore.
The station is an unfamiliar one to most Bangaloreans. Tucked away in a corner of the city amid vast, vacant grasslands and marble shops, it is rather easy to miss. It is nestled in a grove of acacia trees off Sarjapur Road, a little after the Wipro corporate headquarters.
Quaint and quiet
Walk into the station and it transports you to a quaint, small-town railway station. The entrance steps are chipped at the sides. The railway station has just two tracks, hardly any lighting and a canopied waiting area, barely larger than a bus shelter. Birds chirp away, dogs snooze next to the vacant benches and snakes cross the tracks giving the station a rustic charm.
More services than ever
Some 500 passengers flock to the station every Friday night to board the Yeshwanthpur-Kannur express train.
Just nine years ago, no trains stopped at this nondescript station. Now, a dozen trains bound for Salem, Dharmapuri, Mysore, Kannur and Ernakulam halt at the station daily, drawing hordes of passengers from nearby residence areas of Sarjapur Road, Electronic City, Bellandur, Marathahalli and Madiwala. Boarding from Carmelaram station has minimised travel time for V. Sridhar, a businessman who takes the train to Coimbatore almost every month. “Earlier I used to board from the City station. Even if I left two-and-a-half to three hours in advance for a 10.30 p.m. train, sometimes I would miss it.” In the last three years that he has been going to Carmelaram station, which is just 4 km from his house, Sridhar has had no such problems.
There are plans to raise the platform and make it longer, says Raju Kumar, the station master who took charge just over a week ago. Now, the passengers have a tough time boarding the train as the platform is very low and many of the coaches are parked beyond the platform.
Besides, there is no parking facility for private vehicles. There are no streetlights and autorickshaws are hard to come by at odd hours. The station may be quaint, but according to Sridhar, there is plenty of room for improvement.