The Sarai Rohilla Railway Station is nestled in North Delhi, a few kilometres away from the Old Delhi Railway Station. This station has an ambience of an old world charm. Smaller in size but well-maintained and organised with not many trains to operate to and from the station, the platforms often wear a deserted look, especially during the mornings.
During peak hours, it is just like any other station with lots of chaos and commotion. The hustle-bustle of the station is a characteristic of a typical Indian railway station, and the Sarai Rohilla station is no exception. Travellers laden with a suitcase in one hand, a bag in the other, and more bags slung on their shoulders are busy spotted trying to unburden their load on a potential Coolie (porter) in exchange for a nominal amount.
It is rather a small station and one can see a lone vendor leisurely selling magazines and newspapers, a calm written on his face, quite oblivious of the customers who are rushing to board their trains. Some other stalls do exist, that offer snacks, biscuits, juices and other eatables. There is a small canteen inside the railway station which doesn’t offer a lot of choices but can be tested if hungry; Samosas and Kachoris (stuffed snacks) with red Chutney (spicy dip) are their speciality.
Early morning hours is the time for workers to clean the station, which sounds more like a Herculean task, to maintain the standards of cleanliness throughout the day. The nearby STD booth is a good facility to make phone calls for those who want to contact their relatives on their arrivals, or for any other emergency. Although with mobile phones being carried by everyone, these local booths have lost their relevance for many customers. Sarai Rohilla station also brings in officegoers commuting daily by the passenger trains which start from the nearby states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Haryana.
At a close proximity, nearly 5 kms away from the station, lies Paharganj - a well-known market place. Paharganj is a hub for hundreds of tourists, as it houses a number of hotels and restaurants at very reasonable prices. An interesting place found near here is the Sadar Bazaar, one of the biggest markets to purchase any products under the sun. This place is always buzzing with activity, with shoppers looking for a good buy. During the evenings, the station slowly starts wearing a deserted look again. Some homeless people find their hearth here looking for a good night’s sleep.
The Delhi Sarai Rohilla station is one of the oldest railway stations in Delhi. It still beholds that old architectural style, untouched by time. Nothing much has changed except a few computers in the booking office, to give a whiff of modernity. Echoing the poet, WH Davies, "what is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare", aptly summarizes this rather busy but interesting place.