Photo: The Deccan Queen, Indian Railway’s first superfast train is the best way to savour the beauty of the Bhor Ghat.; Credit: Google Art & Culture
In India the railways are far beyond a mere means of transport, the story of India’s Railways is closely woven into the social fabric of the country. Indian Railways has helped transport the aspirations and dreams of millions of Indians. Many of their life memories are intertwined with the large network and experiences of train travel.
History of Deccan Queen
In 1930’s, the Deccan Queen – DQ, India’s first deluxe train began running. One of the most iconic trains run by the Indian Railways, this express train was hauled by a WCP-1 The GIPR’s new route was electrified and had seven coaches. The introduction of ‘Deccan Queen’ between the two premier cities of Maharashtra Poona (Pune) and Bombay (Mumbai), was a major landmark in the history of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, the forerunner of the Central Railway. In 1943, Indians were allowed to board the train and with increased patronage, DQ became a daily service.
This was the first deluxe train introduced on the railway to serve two important cities of the region (191 km distance) and was aptly named after Pune, which is also known as ‘Queen of Deccan’ (Dakkhan ki Rani). Many travelers from Mumbai and Pune have travelled and continue to travel on the scenic route traversed by the Deccan Queen.
Deccan Queen was initially introduced with 2 rakes of 7 coaches each one of which was painted in silver with scarlet mouldings and the other with royal blue with gold lines. The under frames of the coaches of the original rakes were built in England while the coach bodies were built in the Matunga Workshop of the GIP Railway.
Photo: A file photo of the Deccan Queen Express in Pune. Image source: Indian Express.
Features of Deccan Queen Train
- DQ was the first deluxe train introduced to serve the two important cities of the region and was named after Pune – also known as the “Queen of the Deccan”.
- It is among the rare Indian trains that have never been hauled using steam traction and were always electric powered; on rare instances running on diesel.
- The GIPR in the 1940s would run Race Special trains for Mumbai’s horse racing enthusiasts who would come to Pune on weekends and race days.
- This train holds many records, including that of being India’s first superfast train, first long-distance electric-hauled train, first vestibuled train, the first train to have a ‘Ladies-Only’ car, and the first train to feature a dining car.
The iconic train DQ was featured in the memorable ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ video that aired on Doordarshan in the late 80s and early 90s. It was also featured in the movie Jewel Thief (1967)
New Avatar of Deccan Queen
It was decided in February that the Deccan Queen Express will be upgraded and will be given a new design approved by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. The upgrades were sanctioned by the Ministry of Railways.
Started from June 2022 the revised composition of the DQ train for better safety features, improved travelling experience, better suspension system and better riding comfort is as follows
Photo: Deccan Queen train; Credit: OutlookIndia.com
- Deccan Queen train has been upgraded with German design Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches with a new livery of green-red colour scheme (earlier the colour code of ICF coaches was blue, white and red colour)
- A new logo has been incorporating the UNESCO Heritage Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
- DQ now has a total 16 coaches
- Four AC chair car,
- Eight second class chair car,
- One vista dome coach – Passengers can experience a panoramic view of the Western Ghats after a vistadome coach was attached to the train.
- The existing dining car was upgraded to a new 40-seater AC dining car has 10 dining tables; each has four chairs along the panoramic windows
- Guard cum brake van
- Generator car.
- A modern pantry and kitchen facilities such as a microwave oven, deep freezer and toaster machine.
There has been continuous extension and changes made to facilities and increasing of coaches of this train considering the increasing demand of passengers.
Journey on Deccan Queen
The railway passengers travelling on the train can enjoy the views of the Western Ghats in Mumbai-Goa route. Passengers can enjoy the scenery while passing near
- Matheran hill (near Neral),
- Songir hill (near Palasdhari),
- Ulhas River (near Jambrung) & Ulhas Valley (near Karjat) surrounded by a number of waterfalls on the green hills. This is a popular destination for people in Mumbai and Pune.
- Areas of Khandala, Lonavala – beautiful twin hill stations. Onboard the Deccan Queen, travelers always wait for the early halt at Lonavala where they can grab some local delight; Chikki – a truly Indian innovation from the 19th Century. Lonavala-chikki is closely associated with an Indian Railways journey. Innovation of Lonavala Chikki helped build railroads in India.
- Monkey Hill (on the Bhor Ghat) offers a scenic view from the train. The best season to view the place is monsoon. At Monkey Hill station, peacocks, monkeys and rabbits appear so close to the tracks that the passengers practically feed them by hand.
- Lots of waterfalls
- Rail tunnels on the south-east ghat section – Traversing the 28 tunnels of picturesque Khandala Ghat – Khandala is the beautiful hill station in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Located at one end of Bhor Ghat. The Bhor Ghat line between Karjat and Khandala was one of the toughest rail engineering projects in the mid 19th century. It took nearly a decade to build and consisted of 28 tunnels and other viaducts, bridges. The last stretch near Khandala was particularly tough.
There are scores of folks who commute every day between the two cities by traveling in this Deccan Queen (DQ) train. It is a lifeline for those who travel from one city to the other every day for work. Playing cards, singing songs or admiring the natural scenery from the windows are activities most commuters spend their journey doing. Several sub-groups and card-playing teams have been formed on board. The closely-knit group of commuters celebrate on board birthdays, festivals, wedding anniversaries, child births, promotions, and even increments. The DQ entered its 90th glorious year of service in 2019.
Indian Railways Souvenir Collection by Indic Inspirations
People have many memories associated with their rail journeys and would like to take away and keep memories of the journey in the form of Deccan Queen train -themed merchandise. Our DQ inspired souvenirs collection is a tribute to the rail heritage of the country. It consists of a selection T-shirts, caps, mugs, key chains and playing card. The collection offers many memories and stories of DQ train to India’s citizens through objects. The items depict the glorious past of DQ. Perfect gifts for train enthusiasts and railway fans. Check out our online store for this Deccan Queen collection launching soon.
1. Iconic Deccan Queen to get facelift, Indian Railways ropes in NID, Dated March 6, 2020. Livemint. com Retrieved from https://www.livemint.com/news/india/indian-railways-deccan-queen-to-undergo-revamp-nid-a-to-work-on-its-exterior-look-see-photos-11583437294107.html
2. Long live the Queen! Dated June 12, 2010. Deccan Herald. Retrieved from https://www.deccanherald.com/content/75004/long-live-queen.html
3. p. 140, DK (Author), Debroy B. (Foreword), (2020). Indian Railways- A Visual Journey: Transforming a Nation’s Destiny (A. Thapliyal.).