Rail Tourism in India and Pakistan (from the site of Salman Rashid)

Railways is among the more enduring legacies of the British Raj in the subcontinent. There is virtually an inexhaustible body of extremely interesting lore and history of the building of this great system of transportation discussed in a few excellent books and in the esoteric journals in the Punjab Archives. It is another story that the ignorant and asinine bureaucrats do not permit access to that great treasure trove.

Even if one has not read about the intricacies and heroism of the laying of the line from, say, Ruk (near Shikarpur) to Sibi, one can still stand on the platform of Ruk and wonder what the letters KSR and IVSR that adorn the façade in blue on white ceramic tiles mean. The lettering signifies that this little-known station was the junction of the Indus Valley State Railway coming up from Kotri and the new line to Quetta and Chaman called the Kandahar State Railway.

As railway stations go, the all-time favourite for anyone should really be the quaintly turreted, mud-plastered station of Kan Mehtarzai. Sitting at 2,224 metres above the sea, on the narrow-gauge Zhob Valley Railway (ZVR) between Bostan and Zhob, this was the highest train station in Pakistan. Once railwaymen told hair-raising tales of those lovely toy trains becoming snow-bound in winter. There were particularly hairy stories of the blizzards during the 1970s and one can imagine how anxiety making a journey on ZVR could be.

After this service was suspended in 1986, Kan Mehtarzai was forgotten. For many years, the line and other bits of infrastructure remained in place, but in 2008, all steel fittings were auctioned and removed. This is Pakistan Railways’ highest line in terms of height about sea level and surely there is some merit in revitalising it at least from Bostan as far as Kan Mehtarzai.

In Balochistan, too, there is what its builders labelled ‘The Lonely Line’. This is the line that travellers ride on their way to Iran. It was lonely because back in 1916 when they first started to lay it, they would go a hundred and fifty kilometres between villages. The sand and gravel desert that the line wended its way was littered with the bleached bones of camels and horses.

Today, as one rides the irregular service or drives on the highway parallel to the line, one passes by deserted and ruined railway stations that are already being overtaken by the desert that had once made way for them.

On the subject of the attraction of railway stations, one simply cannot neglect Attock Khurd. A little doll’s house of a building with a pitched red roof and sitting under the crenulated turrets of the magnificent Attock Bridge, it belongs to a film set. Without doubt this is the most picturesque railway station in the entire country. If Pakistan Railways has been neglectful of its heritage on the whole, it has redeemed itself by turning Attock into a tourist destination.

Station buildings are not the only railway attraction, however. There are some magnificent bridges to be seen as well. My favourite is the remains of the Princess Louise Margaret Bridge in the Chhappar Rift, north of Sibi, in Balochistan. This line remained operational only for some six decades and was dismantled in the summer of 1942. But when it ran, it was the first connection between the Sindh plains and Quetta in the hills. The line through the Bolan Pass came four decades after its launch.

Then there are the very picturesque spans of line from Attock to Daudkhel. Though they all merit a visit, the winner among them is the superlative piece of construction across the Soan River. If the Louise Margaret bridge was once the highest in Pakistan (65 metres above the riverbed), the Soan Bridge now holds the honour.

Of bridges there is no death, however. The little known Victoria Bridge across Jhelum on the line from Malakwal to Gharibwal and Khewra is a treat for the ordinary tourist as well as the students of architecture. It is no exaggeration that its handsome criss-cross of red girders forming the flat arch above and the parallel lines below make a fantastic study of shapes for the artist and photographer.

One thing that we can be eternally thankful to railway managers for is the rehabilitation of Golra station and its conversion into a railway heritage museum. Lying just outside Islamabad, it is within easy reach of all. Within its walls it preserves an array of railway memorabilia ranging from crockery to signalling equipment and clocks to ceiling fans, platform furniture and other equipment. On the platform outside sits a metre gauge carriage that was once the private saloon of the Maharana of Jodhpur.

Source:

Salman Rashids Site

 

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Some Great Camping Places in Garhwal Himalayas

The Garhwal Himalaya has long been associated with people’s need to introspect and find peace. Besides the spiritual importance of Devbhoomi, it is being recognized for its growing adventure activities and sports. The fascinating ice capped hills at once release us from the stress of our day to day lives. The tranquility feeding the mountains… adding to the lush green meadows, dense forest, crystalline lakes and streams no doubt brings a soothing effect whenever you visit the Garhwal Himalayan region. With the growth of adventure tourism in Uttarakhand, the Garhwal Himalayan region has sprang up as one of the adventure holidays destinations in India scoring with numerous outdoor adventure activities and sports like trekking, hiking, cycling, river rafting, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife safari, fishing, bungee jumping, rock climbing, cliff diving and rappelling. Further… the region also offers the best camping sites in India like Beas Ghat on the bank of River Ganga, Dodital, Har Ki dun, Dayara Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal. Let’s check out from this article the top 15 adventure places in the Garhwal Himalayan region where you can plan your best of adventure activities as a solo traveller in India OR with your near and dear ones.

1. Rishikesh

Beach Camp Rishikesh
Located in the lap of the Garhwal Himalayan region with the Ganges cutting and running the valley, Rishikesh at an average elevation of 372 meters is widely noted as “the world capital of Yoga”. The serenity of this place with exciting adventure sports attracts tourists from all over the world throughout the year. White Water River rafting in the Ganges that starts from Kaudiyala and ends at Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh, having rapids ranging from II+ to IV+, is the most popular water sports in India. The 36 kilometers long rafting stretch is ideal for both the experienced rafters and amateurs. Moreover, you will get lot of camping opportunities along with several other adventure activities like bungee jumping, cliff diving, kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling.

2.Beas Ghat

A destination that you must not be aware of… Beas Ghat on the bank of the Ganges, is becoming popular for Angling and Fishing, which is one of the eco-friendly activities in the Garhwal Himalayan region. The best spot for Angling and Fishing in Beas Ghat is the Nayar rivulet of the Ganges.

3. Tehri

tehri-dam

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Approximately 75 kilometers from Rishikesh, Tehri is one of the popular destinations in the Garhwal region that is noted for the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Bhilangna rivers, the site of the Tehri dam. It is also a major Hindu pilgrim site. Besides the religious significance, Tehri is also a renowned as a trekking destination and as a hotspot for adventure activities. Some of the notable treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region that starts from Tehri are Nagtibba, Sehastra Taal and Khatling Glacier. Other adventure activities of Garhwal Himalayan region like rock climbing and cycling (commencing from Tehri at 770 meters and heads up to Gangotri at 3,200 meters via Dharasu, Uttarkashi and Harsil) are also available in Tehri.

4. Rajaji National Park

rajajji-national-park

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Named after C. Rajagopalachari, a prominent leader of the Indian freedom struggle, the Rajaji National Park is the abode of the several animal species and the major attraction remains the wild elephants. Other species like tiger, panther, different types of deer, wild boar, goral, Himalayan black bear and sloth bear and several bird species are also spotted. The Rajaji National Park spreads over 820 square kilometers approximately and offers a rich bio-diversity combining the Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary and Motichur Wildlife Sanctuary. The park is open from mid of November to mid of June and the authority organizes several wildlife safaris in Rajaji National Park. It has an easy access from Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun and Kotdwar.

5. Dhanolti

Dhanaulti

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Located approximately 24 kilometers from the popular hill station of Mussoorie, Dhanolti is one of the ideal hubs for trekkers. It is also one of the leisure destinations in Garhwal for several outdoor recreational activities like picnic and camping. The panorama of the peaks like Swargarohini and Bandarpunch is clearly visible from Dhanolti. Tucked in the midst of a quiet environment at an altitude of 2,286 meters… Dhanolti is the gateway to Surkanda Devi, Chandrabadni and Kunjapuri temples. Other popular trails via Dhanolti are Nagtibba and Kempty Falls. Adventure activities like horse riding and mountain biking are also possible in Dhanolti.

6. Nanda Devi National Park

nanda-devi-national-park

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Perfect for travellers seeking for an ideal nature holiday in India, the Nanda Devi National Park that was dubbed by Sir Edmund Hillary as “God Gifted Wilderness” is a world heritage site, stretching approximately 630 square kilometers. It is also a part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. The Nanda Devi National Park that surrounds the beautiful peak of Nanda Devi is a home to the rare Brahma Kamal (flower) and blue mountain goat. It is also a home to animals like Snow Leopards, Himalayan musk deer, Mainland serow and Himalayan tahr. The trail through Nanda Devi National Park goes through beautiful meadows, gorges and valleys that border the western edge of Nanda Devi Sanctuary. Once can also see the majestic peaks like Trishul and Dunagiri.

7. Valley of Flowers National Park

valley-of-flowers-national-park

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At an altitude of 3,600 meters lies the beautiful Valley of Flowers National Park that houses many exotic flowers like Inula, Himalayan whorl and Cobra Lily. From orchids to poppies to daisies… one will be astonished and lost to observe the amazing varieties of flowers. It is a world heritage site that is a part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It is said that the scent of flowers is so strong that one can even faint. No wonder… the locals believe that fairies used to dwell here. The trek to Valley of Flowers starts from Govindghat, which is close to Joshimath. One has to go along the river Lakshman Ganga. Ghangria, which is one of the notable camping sites in the Garhwal Himalayan region, is the gateway to Valley of Flowers… from where the trek is only 3 kilometers.

8. Auli

auli

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Located at an elevation of 3050 meters, Auli is one of the best skiing spots in the Indian Himalayan region that has received a worldwide fame. GMVN provides modern ski equipments and certificates also. The Auli – Kuari Pass Tapovan trek via Gurson is one of the popular treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region that you can further add to your itinerary on your adventure holiday in Garhwal Himalaya. Nonetheless, the Gurson Bugyal and Kwari Bugyal are ideal spots for a hikers and travellers seeking for camping in Garhwal. The Chattrakund and Chenab Lake are two major attractions in and around Auli. The panoramic view of the farfetched snow capped peaks – Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Gauri Parbat, Hathi Parbat, Dunagiri and Nanda Devi – adds a spiritual spectacle to your eyes.

9. Chopta

chopta

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At 2,680 meters, Chopta is the gateway to Tungnath Temple, which is the highest seat of Lord Shiva. This remote valley is famous for its pristine natural beauty that is surrounded by an alpine forest of Pine and Deodar. One can capture a breathtaking panorama of several Himalayan peaks. The Chandrashilla, Tungnath and Devariyatal are some of the notable treks that commences from Chopta. The trekking routes involves going through jungles, meadows and small villages. The journey becomes exciting for bird watchers as the region is a home to several alpine and migratory birds.

10. Chakrata

Chakrata

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Located above the Yamuna valley, Chakrata is a small town that is a perfect hub for adventurous holiday trip in the Garhwal region. Dotted by thick deodar forest with a backdrop of a section of snow clad Himalayan peaks… Chakrata is noted for snow viewing. Tiger Falls, ancient temples and meadows are the major attractions in Chakrata. The destination is ideal of family camping, school camping and corporate camping as Chakrata is noted as one of the best places for adventure camping holidays in Garhwal Himalaya.

11. Harsil

harsil

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It is a scenic village that is situated on the bank of River Bhagirathi and is notable for several apple orchards and winding roads. Trek to Chitkul via Lamkhaga Pass and passing through the dense alpine forest of Juniper, Deodar and Bhojpatra is one of the best adventure activities that you can go for from Harshil. The dramatic climb to Lamkhaga Pass is an interesting part in the journey. If you are lucky enough you may come across ibex, fox and several alpine birds. Further, an escape to Harsil allows you to experience the folk lifestyle of the Bhotias and the tranquil ambiance makes it perfect for a meditation and yoga holiday.

12. Dayara Bugyal

dayara-bugyal

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Located at 3,038 meters, Dayara Bugyal offers a breath taking view of the farfetched Himalayan range. The trek route commences from Barsu village. The major attraction remains the Barnala Tal, a small natural lake that is surrounded by Oak trees. There is another starting point from Raithal village. During the winter season, Dayara Bugyal is also notable as one of the best ski destinations in India… having moderate to difficult ski slopes. The ski trip begins from Bhatwari via Barsa to Dayara Bugyal.

13. Dodital

doditalDodital is one of the prominent freshwater lakes in the Indian Himalayan region that is located at an altitude of 3,024 meters. According to a legend, Lord Ganesha chose this place as his abode. It is also a common destination for fishing. The gentle trek to Dodital is approximately 21 kilometers that commences from Sangamchatti, few hours’ drive from Uttarkashi. Dodital is a very popular location for family camping and school camping. Bebra, is which 9 kilometers from Sangamchatti, is one of the best places for camping in the Garhwal Himalayan region.

14. Bedni Bugyal

bedni-bugyal

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Located at an elevation of 3,354 meters in Chamoli district, Bedni Bugyal is considered as one of the most fascinating alpine meadows. It offers best of view of Trishul Parvat. The trek to Bedni Bugyal commences from Lohajang Pass and is one of the easy treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region. The major attractions in Bedni Bugyal are Bedni Kund that holds a great religious importance amongst the locals; Ali Bugyal, which is another sprawling meadow at an elevation of 3,300 meters; and Wan village that is the last village en route Bedni Bugyal.

15. Har Ki Doon

har-ki-dun

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Located at the base of Fateh Parvat at an elevation of 3,556 meters, Har Ki Doon valley is a cradle shaped hanging valley in the Garhwal Himalayan region. The farfetched snow clad mountains, streams and rich alpine vegetation are the main attractions in Har Ki Doon valley. The trek to Har Ki Doon valley starts from Sankari that is followed by Osla. From there the trek follows a steep climb of further 14 kilometers. The Har Ki Doon valley trek is yet another easy to moderate trek in the Garhwal Himalayan region that is suitable for family. The Morinda Tal and several shepherd villages on the Har Ki Doon Valley trek often attract the mind of travellers.

Link(s) and Sources(s):

TourMy India

 

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Odour as a Pollution Agent : Methods to Control

Odour is  an important pollution agent. An odorant generally originates from a solid, a liquid, or a concentrated gas. Odour sources may be confined in space, like emission from ducts, or they may be unconfined, like drainage ditches, and settling lagoons.

               Hydrogen sulphide, carbon disulphide, mercaptans, products of decomposition of proteins (especially those of animal origin), phenols, and some petroleum hydrocarbon are the malodours which are very common.

               Odourous compounds are also generated due to various human activities. Garbage dumps, sewage works and agricultural activities are typical examples. Bad smell is also produced by decaying vegetation. The exhaust from motor vehicle is also a common source of malodour.

               The sources of odour are so many, that it is almost impossible to prepare a complete list of them. Table indicates the various odourous industrial operations.

Table

Odourous Industrial Operations

No. Industry Odourous material
1. Pulp and paper Mercaptans
2. Tanneries Hides, flesh, hair
3. Fertilizer Ammonia, nitrogen compounds
4. Petroleum Sulphur, compounds from crude oil, cresols
5. Chemical Ammonia, phenols, mercaptans, hydrogen sulphide, chlorine, organic products
6. Foundries Quenching oils
7. Pharmaceutical Biological extracts and wastes, fermented
8. Food Cannery waste, dairy waste, meat products, packing house wastes, fish, cooking odours, coffee roaster effluents
9. Detergent Animal fats
10. General Burning rubber, solvents, incinerator smoke

Odour Control

               An important problem of air pollution is the control of objectionable odours, which may be gases, mists, or solids discharged into the atmosphere from industrial, commercial, and municipal operations. Source control is the most effective means of abating odour. In many cases, this can be achieved by good sanitation practices, as the most persistent and offensive odours arise due to putrefaction.

               Following are the methods which may be employed alone or in various combinations to eliminate or diminish odours.

  1. Modification of the process
  2. Dilution by ventilation or dispersal
  3. Absorption
  4. Adsorption
  5. Combustion or oxidation
    • Direct incineration
    • Catalytic incineration
  6. Odour masking
  7. Odour counteraction of neutralization
  8. Injection of a reactive substance
  9. Irradiation

Modification of the Process :

               In some cases a change in the process, either by way in the composition of process materials or removal of impurities may help in odour control. Methods includes substitution of low-odour solvents for highly odourous ones, adjustment of process variables like temperature, residence time etc. If such alteration makes the resultant source less intense or more tolerable from the point of odour and if such modification is technically and economically feasible, then it, merits first consideration.

Dilution by Ventilation or Dispersal

               Odour intensity being a function of the odoraqnt concentration, proper well designed ventilation is the most common method for removal of odours from enclosed spaces.

               A method sometimes used for odour abatement outdoors is to release odourous gases from tall stacks. It results in normal dispersion in the atmosphere and consequent decrease in ground-level concentrations below the threshold value. Dispersal by stacks requires careful consideration of the location, meteorological parameters, etc.

Absorption

               Absorption is applicable when the odourous  gases are soluble or emulsifiable in a liquid or react chemically in solution. Liquid scrubbing of the gases in a suitable absorption unit is an important methods of odour control.

Adsorption

               Adsorption, particularly on activated carbon, has been widely used in odour control because activated carbon has a preferential attraction and high retentivity for organic vapours. Activated carbon is highly porous and has great adsorptive power due to very large surface area. The highly porous structure permits the carbon to remove and hold the organic vapours, hydrogen sulphide, and other odour-producing substances. Furthermore, the retained material may be disrobed comparatively easily, and the carbon reactivates and is used again. But, if the concentration of the odourous material is high, the method may not be economical.

Combustion or Oxidation

Direct incineration

               In this process, the odour generating gases are made to pass through a combustion chamber at a temperature of the order of 650-815oC, in the presence of excess oxygen. The main demerit of this method is the cost of the fuel to produce the required temperature. Sometimes heat exchangers may be employed to recover the heat from the hot incinerated gases. The heat recovered may be used for other purposes like preheating the effluent gases, generating steam etc. The optimum residence time of the gases in the chamber should be found out by trial, since the various gas constituent to be burnt react at different rates. Normally this residence time should not be less than 0.3 sec.

Catalytic Incineration

               When the cost of heating the gas stream to 650oC is very high, catalytic combustion may be the choice. In a catalytic unit, oxidation takes place at a much lower temperature than necessary for direct incineration. In this method, the process gases, pass through specially designed units containing catalyst elements, on the surface of which oxidation occurs. During the catalytic oxidation, the constituents in the gas stream such as hydrocarbons and other organic malodours, react with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water vapour. In general, complete oxidation should take place to solve the odour problem. Catalytic combustion of most of the organic constituents that occur in the effluent as gas stream is initiated and self sustaining at about 260oC. In case the gas stream is colder than this before coming into contact with the catalytic, it must be pre-heated. However, the fuel cost there for pre-heating will be very much less, when compared to direct incineration.

Odour Masking :

               Odour masking is based on the principle that, when two odours are mixed, the stronger one will predominate. In other words, strong odours tend to mask weaker ones. Thus a strong, pleasant odour can be used to ‘mask’ or ‘cover’ weak unpleasant odour. However, care must be taken to see that the odorant used for superimposing the pleasant odour is not flammable, corrosive, or allergic.

               Following are the methods used for odour masking :

  1. Spraying, vaporizing, or atomizing the odorant chosen, into air-gas streams in stacks.
  2. Adding directly to a process wherever possible.
  3. Adding to scrubbing liquors.

In cases where the masking odorants are directly added to the process, care should be taken to se that they will not affect the quality of the products.

               Odour masking can also be used to control odours in outdoor places like refuse dumps or waste lagoons. Here, the masking compound must vaporize rapidly enough to overcome the unpleasant odour and slow enough to last for a reasonable length of time.

               Due to various practical problems involved on odour masking the selection of the suitable odorant and its quantity should be left to specialists in the field.

Odour Counteraction

               Certain pairs of odours of relative concentrations are antagonistic. Therefore, when they are mixed together, the intensity of each odour is diminished. This effect is known as counteraction or neutralization. Examples of such odour pairs are musk and bitter almond; rubber and cedar wood.

               Selection of the proper counteractant for a given odour is even more difficult than the selection of masking compounds, and therefore the selection should be left to experts.

Control of Air Pollution by process Changes

               In controlling air pollution by process changes, the method to be employed naturally depends upon the particular process involved. As a result, no fixed set of rules can be applied on a universal basis.

               Generally, four methods are available to control the pollutants by process changes. They are :

  1. Substitution of raw materials or fuels
  2. Modification of the process itself
  3. Modification or replacement of the process equipment
  4. Changes in operational practices

Substitution of Raw Materials or Fuels

               This method has been used successfully in many cases for controlling atmospheric pollution. For example use of low-volatile coals in place of high-volatile coals has proved quite effective in eliminating smoke and soot in many industrial and commercial heating applications. Similarly, substitution of low sulphur fuels for high sulphur fuels has reduced considerably the sulphur dioxide discharge into the atmosphere. Another method of decreasing emission of air pollution is substituting bauxite flux for fluorspar in an open health furnace.

Modification of the Process

               While modifying a given process, a unit operation may be eliminated or altered, or other unit operations may be substituted or added. For example, in disposing combustible refuse, the practice of incineration may be discontinued in favour of sanitary land fill. Another example is in Brass Foundry Practice, where an additional operational step has been used to reduce air pollution. Here, a fluxing material is applied to the surface of the molten brass which serves as an evaporation barrier and consequently reduces the emission of brass fumes. This additional step has been included strictly as an air pollution control measure. A third example of process modification is substitution of oxygen for air in gas manufacture and in blast furnaces. The vent gases produced as a result are lower in volume.

Modification or Replacement of the Process Equipment

               This may include (a) modification of one or more items of the process equipment, (b) replacement or repair of faulty or repair of faulty or malfunctioning equipment, or (c) substitution of one type of equipment for another type. For example

  1. Use of vapour recovery systems to control vapour losses in handling volatile materials-absorbers, condensers, and compressors may be used.
  2. In cast iron founders, substitution of reverberatory furnaces for cupolas has resulted in reducing atmospheric pollution from this type of operation.

Changes in Operational Practices

               A good example for this is a thermal power plant. Hereby using a low-sulphur fuel in place of high-sulphur fuel, the rate of release of sulphur dioxide from coal burning operations can be reduced, especially during the periods of adverse meteorological conditions, and consequently reduce the air pollution problem.

               Investigations have shown that fuel additives are effective in reducing smoke gas turbines. Hence, probably they may be used to reduce emission of smoke, soot, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons, associated with incomplete combustion, and thus reducing the air pollution problem.

 

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Homemade Watermelon Mocktail: Nosh Farmayen

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