It is rare to find someone who is untouched by Indian Railways and their associative travel memories with it. Such is the impact of this enormous organization and it’s 7000 trains which ferry millions of people to their destinations. However, there is one such train which is the most celebrated and yet a revelation in itself.
Deccan Queen (12123/24) is a daily superfast express train which runs between the sprawling metropolises of Mumbai and Pune. Its name was coined after the city of Pune also referred to as Dakkhan Ki Rani (Queen of Deccan). Started in 1930, it is perhaps the most celebrated train in India. Yes, you heard it right! More than the likes of other premium trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, and Duronto. And here are some facts which prove its worth.
A pioneer of its kind
On 1st June 1930, the British started ‘Deccan Queen’ (DQ) as a weekend service from Bombay to Poona (then) to ferry derby race fans between the two cities. This train since then, has the distinction of being a pioneer in many categories. To name a few – She was India’s first superfast train, and one of the fastest in Asia when introduced, covering the distance in 2hrs 45 minutes flat. In an era where trains used to run on steam, DQ since its inception was India’s first train to be hauled by an electric engine and has never run on steam/diesel power until date. It was also the first train in India to have a ‘Ladies Only’ car and a diner. The highly popular train now shuttles daily.
Dining on Wheels
Imagine sipping a cup of hot tea, accompanied with some appetizing vadas and gazing through the mesmerizing flora and fauna of Bhor Ghats, through a window seat. Well, you can experience it onboard DQ. It’s the numero uno train in India to have a dining car, which offers a wide variety of eateries and services, enough to satisfy your cravings during the 3-hour journey.
Enviable track record
Belonging to Indian Railways, which is infamous for dramatic train delays, DQ is the most reliable and preferred train on the route as it never gets late. The Queen’s track record is commendable for which in its 85+ years of service, the train has never met with a major accident or casualty.
Darling of Rail Fans
Birthdays are special, but where on earth does one find birthday celebrations of a train. Certainly, Deccan Queen and its loyal fans have added a new dimension to the ‘Incredible India’. Every year on June 1, the regular passengers and rail enthusiasts raise a toast to the birthday of their beloved train. Some traditions include decorating the entire 17-coach train, customary puja for its well-being and the cutting of cake weighing a number equal to the train’s age!
Deccan Queen, unlike its other counterparts, has been favorite for both classes and masses. This deluxe train has undergone various changes like the color of its coaches, but what remains unchanged is the love and appreciation of umpteen travelers who commute daily between Mumbai and Pune. In DQ, some found temporary friends while some found lifelong soulmates. For some, it’s a part of their vacationing trips, for some more, it’s their second home while for others, its a routine habit for years now.
Many believe that Deccan Queen is more than a train. It is an indispensable force which refuses to weaken its pace conjoining the two cities, their citizens, and cultures. And still, if it seems less believable, I am sure a ROYAL journey beckons for you.