Coonoor Station and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway
As mentioned on my Chandrapore page, two different railway stations were used to portray Chanderapore in the film 'A Passage To India'. When the expedition organised by Dr Aziz departs on its fateful trip to the Marabar Caves, the first part of the journey is by rail, and for these scenes, David Lean used the Nilgiri Mountain Railway that runs from Mettupalayam, on the plains of Tamil Nadu, to the Hill Station of Udhagamandalam, previously known as Ootacamund or 'Ooty'. Half-way along the line is the military town of Coonoor, and it was here, at Coonoor's metre-gauge railway station that Lean set the departure point for the Marabar expedition.
As advised by his friends Mahmoud Ali and Hamidullah, Dr Aziz has taken the precaution of sleeping overnight on the railway platform, to guard against the possibility of missing the train. He has with him his man-servant Selim, and other helpers, plus a large amount of provisions and other essentials for the 'picnic'.
Anthony has been instructed by his master Ronny Heaslop to remain close to the ladies all day, but Adela has taken a dislike to him, and is pleased to dismiss him.
These two images are included to show notices and other platform details.
Note the word 'Ladies' on the carriage door behind Dr Aziz. In India, then and now, it is quite common to have special compartments set aside for ladies only.
In the top left corner of this shot, the modern-day initials 'SR', standing for 'Southern Railway', shine through the new paintwork added for the film.
Mr Fielding and Professor Godbole arrive late, and so miss the train. Their delay is caused (purposefully?) by the Professor, who's morning prayers take longer than expected. Dr Aziz is distraught that the trip has been ruined, but Fielding promises to catch up later. Quite why he didn't just jump on the train, which only goes about 10 miles an hour at that point is not clear, except that if he had done so, the whole story would have been ruined!
This is a very curious shot: the train, with carriages, has just departed, and we then see a shot of the engine, without carriages, disappearing up the line. What was all that about, then? Still, it looks very nice, and we quickly cut to some carriage-interior shots, obviously filmed in the studio, as Mrs Moore and Adela have their breakfast.
Mrs Moore makes a remark about the location used by the bearer to do his cooking. Quite how she would get such a view from the closed-compartment in a non-corridor carriage is unclear!
For continuing shots of the film's train-journey to the Marabar Hills, please visit my NMR Railway page. The remaining photos on this page are ones taken at Coonoor during two visits that I made in 1992 and 2002.