12th December 2016
"It all began at Marwar Junction, three long summers and a thousand years ago." So begins Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale 'The Man Who Would Be King' and in many ways so did the story of Wild Frontiers too. It was from this very station, 20 years ago, travelling in the footsteps of Kipling’s heroes, Peachy Carnahan and Daniel Dravot, that I set out to discover the mythical lands of Kafiristan and in the process founded Wild Frontiers.
Of course Marwar Junction has changed a bit since Kipling’s time. Then a dusty backwater in the princely state of Rajputana, there are now eight wide rail tracks running though the station carrying huge passenger trains at considerable speed between Delhi and Mumbai or Ahmedabad.
But there is still one service Kipling would have remembered as it was the one upon which he was travelling when asked by Carnahan to deliver his message to Dravot at the beginning of his tale and it’s one still utilised by clients of Wild Frontiers; the Malvi-Marwar Stopper as it is locally known. A narrow-gauge, branch line service with only 3rd class carriages, when I first took it back in 1996 it was still operated by a steam locomotive. All such engines were decommissioned in 2000 but it hasn’t made a huge difference to the speed of the journey, which still only averages 19kph. Today it is a nostalgic journey over the spectacular Khamli Ghats that gives our clients the chance to experience both great views and a taste of real Indian life.
Today I was rushing from Pushkar to Bhenswara and didn’t have time to actually take the train myself, just to take a few shots of the station. But last week our Taj, Temples and Tigers tour travelled this way with our former employee turned professional photographer, Dave, on it and you can see some of his pictures on this blog.
For me it was just a nice chance to return to a place that has meant a lot to us over the years and reflect on where the last 20 years have taken us.