Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Northern Sojourn Day V: Ludhiana - The Industrial City

 Left at Ludhiana

I didn't make any plan to stay at Ludhiana. It was supposed to be a place where I would stay for two hours after getting down from a train coming from Amritsar and before catching next one to Jaipur. Everything didn’t go as planned. My train from Amritsar started very late. When I reach Amritsar station in morning the first message I got was my return train was delayed by 30 or 45 minutes. I didn't worry much about that; after all, I added more than two hours of buffer time at Ludhiana.

In that evening I waited for train at Amritsar station; frequently hearing announcements about its immediate departure. We all waited, but it didn't come. Ironically, railways even announced that the train already reached the station and requested all passengers to board. But it was nowhere in the vicinity. I even thought about going in bus (which would have been better). After a long wait, finally iron monster came to platform and slowly chugged us away. 

There were 7-8 people sitting in my compartment; two elderly couples; two young couples; 2 teenagers and one kid. As our train started very late from Amritsar, most of long distance travelers started sleeping just a while after boarding. The big family in my compartment was going to Ludhiana after attending some function at their ancestral/relative's home in Amritsar. They made a lot of noise as if it is day and they are at their home. After a while a guy sleeping on next compartment asked them to reduce noise. Interestingly, neither elderly couple nor young couple nor kids cared about what he told. They completely ignored those who were sleeping and went on with their activities. 

These days empathy is on short supply!!!

On its way, our train stopped at numerous places to give way for other trains which either have higher priority or running on schedule. On NTES, I kept on checking the status of my next train; it was still behind. But that happiness didn't last long. Outside Ludhiana city our train stopped again; this time to give way for my next train. I stood there – helpless and motionless. Still there was a minute chance – if my train reach at Ludhiana Junction fast and other one may be there. But no, couple of kilometers before station our train stopped again. This time it started only after my next train left Ludhiana junction. 

At midnight I was standing clueless in station thinking about how to reach Jaipur which was 9 plus hours away.

Ludhiana History

Ludhiana is located more than 300kms north of Delhi. This is the largest Indian city north of Delhi. This city is also known as the Manchester of India. Considered as business capital of Punjab, Ludhiana was believed to be founded by Lodhi dynasty in 1480s. During the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ludhiana became an important British cantonment. Ranjith Singh captured Ludhiana in 1805. However, Company forced him out on 1809. Later Ranjith Singh signed a treaty with British according to which he should restrict his activities to the right bank of Sutlej. British forces came to Ludhiana and cis-Sutlej area came under British protection.

@ Ludhiana

At station, I reevaluated my options. No other train was going to Jaipur from Ludhiana on that night. No straight buses to Jaipur were there on that night. Finally, I booked a Rajasthan State RTC bus for next day using Redbus and went to nearby hotel to spend the night. Its almost 00.30am in the morning. In that hotel checkout was at 12.30 noon and I ended up paying 2 days rent. I went to the room and slept. Next day I woke up at 11am only.

Streets of Ludhiana

First thing to do after I woke up from bed was to locate starting point of my Jaipur bus. In Redbus ticket they simply mentioned starting location as ‘Ludhiana’… nothing else!!! I called Redbus customer care; interestingly they don't know from where it was going to start. He told that it may start from ISBT Ludhiana, but asked me to check with RSRTC and gave two helpline numbers. I called first one, one guy picked up and told, 'you should check with vendor who sold that ticket, not with us. This is control room number'. That voice was not customer friendly at all. I called all other helpline numbers mentioned in RSRTC website; those were not working. I called Redbus again… no use…

If Redbus is selling RSRTC tickets, then it also their responsibility to know full details about it. Control room may not be the place for checking bus schedules; but I am customer for RSRTC which means I am also a customer for people in control room as well. If they don't know, at least they should give a working helpline number.

Finally, I tried the last option - find out myself. I thought of going to ISBT Ludhiana first. By noon I started on foot and walked through different streets. After a while, I reached ISBT and found out its Jaipur Terminal. One conductor confirmed that the bus would depart from that terminal by 7.15 PM.

It was almost 4 and I was hungry. There was a couple of hotels nearby. I went to near-by called ‘Hotel Amit’. After a nice Punjabi lunch, I went back to room (this time in shared auto). After reading couple of chapters from novel 'The Sigma Protocol', I set the alarm at 5.30 and slept. Fortunately, I woke up at 5.30 itself and packed everything. Ready to go….

After reaching ISBT, I went to hotel Amit again. Unfortunately, they serve dinner only after 7pm. Well, I ordered couple of snacks and some sweets. By the time I finished it was almost dark; I slowly woke up, took my bag and walked towards the terminal. Jaipur bus was parked some 100ft away. I boarded the bus and sat on a comfortable seat at center back.

Rajasthan SRTC Bus to Jaipur

Our route was through Delhi and the journey in bus would take approx. 12 hours. Without push-back seats or good suspension that bus was not a comfortable vehicle for all night 12-hour journey. Bus started on time, we quickly crossed city limits. Multiple dhabas and hotels were open on both sides of the road.
Driver pressed accelerator hard and bus went on its top speed; however, its suspension was not good enough for those speeds. Bus stopped at multiple places; numerous people got in and out. We passed through Khanna, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Panipat and by midnight we reached Delhi.
Around midnight we stopped at a dhaba in Kurukshetra for food. By 2.30 we reached Maharana Pratap Terminal located at Kashmir Gate in NewDelhi. Most of the people got down there. In fact, bus was almost empty when it left Delhi. Even in that night Maharana Pratap terminal was overflowing with buses. Our bus stopped once again on Delhi’s outskirts, may be 2 or 3 people boarded. Soon we left for Jaipur.

I tried hard to sleep in that seat but it was not possible. Finally, I went to an empty 3 seats in the front and slept. Outside temperature was in single digits and cold air was creeping inside through gaps in the windows. By 6.30 in the morning we hit the outskirts of Jaipur. After going through multiple city roads finally we reached bus stand at 7.00 AM. 

Good Morning Jaipur.


Couple of places we stopped or pass by in Haryana are very important in Indian history. Two such places are Kurukshetra and Panipat.


Located in Haryana (some 160kms away from Delhi and 80 km from Chandigarh) this place is believed to be the location of epic war between Kauravas and Pandavas mentioned in Mahabharata. It is also believed that at this place Lord Krishna revealed Gita to Arjuna.


Located in Haryana, Panipat is one of the most prominent battle fields in India. Three critical wars which altered Indian history significantly happened here. Panipat is located, 90kms north of Delhi and 169kms south of state capital Chandigarh.

First Battle of Panipat (21st April 1526)

Babur was the great grandson of Timur (the same guy who sacked Delhi, committed multiple massacres and destroyed it in 1398). He ascended the throne of Farghana at the age of 12 in 1494. Two years later he conquered Samarkhand but lost Farghana. Later he lost the control of Samarkhand as well. In 1501 he was defeated once again in his attempt to conquer Samarkhand. Later he conquered Kabul and in a joint venture with Ismail I (Safavid dynasty) conquered Turkistan including Samarkhand but later lost it to Muhammed Shaybani. After losing Samarkhad for third time, he tried to create an empire in north. This time he was invited by Daulat Khan Lodi to attack Delhi.

Babur came and fought against much larger army of Ibrahim Lodhi and defeated him. This was one of the earliest battles in which Indian Subcontinent witnessed the use of gun powder and field artillery. and later founded Mughal Empire in Delhi.

Second Battle of Panipat (November 5, 1556)

Hemchandra Vikramaditya was a Hindu general and Chief Minister of Adil Shah Suri of Suri dynasty. After the victory of Humayun over Adil Shah’s brother-in-law, Sikandar Shah Suri Mughals recaptured Delhi and Agra. However, Humayun died 6 months later and his son Akbar ascended to throne (Akbar’s regent was Bairam Khan). After hearing Humayun’s death Hemu (who was in Bengal at that time) marched to Delhi. He conquered Agra without a fight and defeated Mughals in the battle of Tughlaqabad. 

After the loss of Tughlaqabad, Akbar and Bairam Khan marched to Delhi and fought against the army of Hemu on the battlefields of Panipat. Hemu was captured in the battle and later killed by Biram Khan.

Third Battle of Panipat (January 14, 1761)

This time battle lasted for seven days and involved more than 125 thousand soldiers.
During the decline of Mughal empire Marathas expanded their territory. Under Peshwa Baji Rao, Gujrat, Malwa, Rajputana came under Maratha’s control. After he defeated Mughals on the outskirts of Delhi much of Mughal empire south of Delhi came under the control of Marathas. In 1758 Delhi came under Maratha’s control; they also captured Lahore and drove out Timur Shah Durrani (son of Ahmad Shan Durrani aka Ahmad Shah Abdali). Thus, Maratha empire extended north of Indus River. In 1759 Ahmad Shah Abdali and Najib Khan (his Rohilla ally) crossed Lahore and reached Delhi. They successfully brought Nawab of Oudh – Shuja-Ud-Daula – to their group. 

Hearing this news Marathas under Sadashiva Rao raised an army and marched north. He was later joined by Scindia, Holker, Gaikwad, Govind Pant and Suraj Mal (he later left the coalition). This combined army recaptured Delhi and later sacked the city.

After some initial battles on 14th Jan 1971 Marathas fought against invading armies of Ahmad Shah Abdali (King of Afghanistan). Marathas lost the war to Abdali. However, Abdali later wrote a letter to Peshwa for peace. According to that, Punjab until Sutlej in the north went to Abdali. Abdali left India and never returned.

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