Rajpipla State Railway

British Governor of Bombay Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon (1866 - 1941, centre, left), cuts the ribbon to open the Rajpipla railway, during his state visit to the Kingdom of Rajpipla, Gujarat, India, February 1917. Looking on are his wife, Marie Freeman-Thomas (1875 - 1960, with parasol, left) and Maharajah Vijayasinhji of Rajpipla (1890 - 1951, second from right). (Photo by Rajpipla/Atherton Archives/Getty Images)

Governor of Bombay Presidency Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon, inaugurating the bridge over the River Karjan in February 1917.

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

Marie Freeman-Thomas, Lady Willingdon (1875 - 1960, top, right), is greeted as she alights from the state train at Rajpipla, Gujarat, India, February 1917. Lady Willingdon is engaged in a state visit to the Kingdom of Rajpipla with her husband, British Governor of Bombay, Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon. (Photo by Rajpipla/Atherton Archives/Getty Images)

Lord and  Lady Willingdon alighting from the train at the new Rajpipla railway station.

State Visit To Rajpipla

Lord Willingdon greeted by officials at Rajpipla Railway Station.

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.

Garlanded Governor

Governor of Bombay Presidency Sir Leslie Wilson and his wife Winifred after being received by Maharaja Vijaysinhji at Rajpipla Railway Station in February 1926.

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.

6 thoughts on “Rajpipla State Railway

  1. It was really a treat to travel Rajpipla-Ankleshwar train. I have travelled in this train number of times while coming to Vadodara.
    Otherwase one has to go via Chandod and Dabhoi. The train would make sound like “Jhagadia Na Cho Cho Paisa” (Six paisa for Jhagadia) Jhagadia is the name of a town which came under the rule of Rajpipla Satate.

  2. That bridge was a play ground for us the kids. I have walked across many times. We used to climb t he bridge from the river and used to dive from those pillers During my visit ,in 84, I waited at the train for 3 hrs. at Ankleshwer station but was cancelled because there were not enough passangers. Train and bridge were the part of our lives. My father and grand father used to catch train from Juna Station

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