Madikeri: Mysuru has a sizable population of people from Kodagu and for Mysureans too, Kodagu is a favourite nearby hill station to enjoy their holidays in cool environs. Apart from this, Mysuru and Madikeri (capital of Kodagu) has one thing in common – defunct toy train. While Mysuru’s famed toy train is located in Bannimantap at Jawahar Bal Bhavan, Madikeri’s toy train is located at Raja’s Seat, the place most frequented by tourists.
Both the toy trains were a must-visit place for children once and now both are neglected, thanks to official apathy and their lack of concern. While the toy train in Mysuru is defunct thanks to official neglect, land tussle and lack of coordination between government departments, the toy train in Madikeri has become non-functional due to heavy rain and flood, coupled with lack of initiative by the officers concerned and the elected representatives.
The toy train in Madikeri that was running for nearly 25 years has stopped chugging and even the water fountain nearby has stopped functioning. Both these were located near the Raja’s Seat, the must-visit tourist destination in Madikeri. The train has now been placed inside a shed with tracks being covered with weeds and wild growth. The tracks provide evidence that a train was once running here.
The main reason for the ‘Tourist Express’ (the name of the Madikeri toy train) to cease operation is the nature’s fury that hit Kodagu district in August this year. Also called ‘Cauvery Express,’ the train was quite popular among children and even adults.
People used to come to take a ride in this train that used to cut through mountains and pass through ravines of Madikeri. Raja’s seat was its starting and ending point and the train used to circumambulate the hilly terrain giving the occupants breath-taking views of the mountain ranges. People and children on board the train used to scream in joy as the train winded its way on the tracks almost touching the mountain ranges.
The sylvan surroundings of Raja’s Seat welcome everyone with open arms. And for years, the jolly ride in the toy train has brought immense joy to children. However, this feeling was not restricted to the children alone. The elderly, newly married couple and young lovers have all enjoyed the ride amidst the magnificent beauty of Raja Seat and the valley.
After the selfie craze started, everyone used to click pictures sitting in the toy train. Sadly, all this has become a thing of the past now. Since the last three months, the after-effects of landslides and floods have hit Cauvery Express too.
Due to heavy rains, the railway track on which the Express train runs has started rusting and the wooden reapers have been infested with termites. Even the tourist inflow has dwindled following the devastation and the timetable of the running of the train has been removed from its place. There were hopes that people would come at least during Dasara and experience the joy ride in the toy train. Even this hope has been belied as the officials concerned did not take any initiative to revive the train.
The toy train is maintained by the Madikeri City Municipal Council (CMC). Last time, a private company had won the bid to operate the train for Rs.25 lakh. The contract period expired a few months ago and after that the Municipal Council has not floated any tenders. Hence, due to the negligence of the Municipal Council and the Tourism Department’s lack of vision the toy train is languishing in the shed.
The toy train was introduced nearly 25 years ago in Madikeri. Before it was shifted to Raja Seat, it was making a round of Madikeri Golf Course. Now, the track has not been maintained for months and weeds have grown on them.
Defunct Musical Fountain at Raja’s Seat
The musical fountain installed in Raja’s Seat about 11 years ago was another major tourist attraction. Even this has stopped functioning because of the software that is used to run the musical fountain developed a technical snag almost a year ago and has not been repaired ever since. The musical fountain shows would be held between 6 pm to 8 pm and during Dasara it would be held for four hours.
People are at least hoping now that the Madikeri CMC and the Tourism Department wake up and do something about the toy train and musical fountain and restore it to its past glory so that the tourists and visitors can once again enjoy the joy ride and listen to the lilting fountain music.
By Prasad Sampigekatte
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