A great Unknown Railway Engineer- Baba Bhalku
Dr. Vinod Kumar Dhatwalia, Assistant Professor, Dept. Life Science Beehive college Dehradun, India
The Indian Railway was first introduced to India in 1853 from Bombay to Thane. The Indian Railways, is fourth largest networks in the world.
Shimla-Kalka train is one of the three World Heritage trains of India. In 29th June 1898 a contract was signed between the secretary of the state and Delhi-Ambala-Kalka railway company for constructing two feet guage line from Kalka to Shimla. This 96-kms long railway track is built over 889 short to long bridges and passes through 102 tunnels in the foothills of the Himalayas from Kalka to Shimla was opened on November 9th, 1903.
Barog Tunnel is the longest tunnel of this route near Barog Station. This tunnel was named after Mr. Barog, a British Engineer who started the digging of this tunnel. He started the digging of the tunnels from both the ends. But there were problems in getting the right alignment of the track. British authorities fined Barog Rs 1 for wasting government money in the tunnel. Barog was depresssed and he committed suicide. After Barog’s death, chief engineer Mr. H.S. Harrington was given the charge to dig a new tunnel. But Harrington was also facing same problems with this project. He was upset. He then met Mr. Bhalku who took a survey with his staff and gave the exact alignment of the track and Harrington’s project was completed. The Rs 8 lakh incurred on the Barog tunnel at that time He also helped the British engineers to bore other tunnels on the track. According to Simla Gazette, the Viceroy presented Bhalku a medal and turban which are still treasured by his family. Harrington highly appreciated the work of Baba Bhalku.
UNESCO United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization has given the World Heritage Status to 104-year-old Shimla-Kalka-rail track.
On 7th July, 2011 Baba Bhalku Rail Museum was inaugurated near the old bus stand, Shimla as a tribute to Baba Bhalku. This Museum is open every day from 9:30 to 16:30 (except Monday).
Disclaimer: This article is written on the basis of facts avaible on the Internet, local books, News papers and views of local people of shimla and nearby areas. Author is not claiming historical evidences of this article.