Maharana Chhatrasinhji, the 36th Gohil Rajput ruler of Rajpipla, started construction of the 64-kilometre (40 miles) narrow gauge railway line from Ankleshwar – on the Delhi-Bombay main line (Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway) – to Rajpipla in 1897, the first year of his reign. It was ready in 1899 at a cost of Rupees 1.4 million (Rupees 14 lakhs).
His son Maharaja Vijaysinhji, who succeeded in 1915, built a magnificent iron bridge over the River Karjan, which was inaugurated by Lord Willingdon, Governor of Bombay Presidency, in February 1917. Thereby the railway line was extended from the old station to the new terminus right at the edge of Nandod, the capital of Rajpipla
Maharaja Vijaysinhji also set up a 32-kilometre (20 miles) branch section from Jhagadia Station, near the Narmada bank, on the Rajpipla-Ankleshwar line – and Netrang, opening up the forest area and the uncultivated tracts of land. This was completed by the year 1932, increasing the Rajpipla State railway network to 96 kilometres (60 miles). This line ran up to the stone quarries of Kadia Dungar.
It was proposed to extend this line to Dediapara, a length of another 30-odd kilometres (20 miles), and ultimately to carry it through to the extreme south-easterly boundary of the State, adjoining the British District of Khandesh. Surveys were carried out but the work could not be undertaken as merger of Rajpipla State with the Union of India took place in 1948.
In addition, Maharaja Vijaysinhji constructed a 30-kilometre steam railroad, and a tramway connecting the towns along the River Narmada with villages in the interior.
One of Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s friends, the author Vivian Charles Buckley, wrote in 1934, “When I visited him in India it was characteristic that he should send a special railway carriage for my use, attached to the local train at the border station of Ankleshwar. It was a magnificent-looking affair, painted white and furnished as a sitting room, with a small kitchen adjoining in case the visitor should want anything to eat on the journey, although only a few hours to the picturesque capital town of Rajpipla. An A.D.C. meets the train and escorts the visitor, in a car driven by one of the Palace chauffeurs in a smart uniform and turban, to the large white guest house.”
In recent years, the old narrow gauge Rajpipla State Railway line was converted into broad gauge. Alas, the old iron bridge had to make way for a new one.