Railways form nerve centre of Indian economy. It has a rich history. Join us as we take you on a joyride to the one place where all the history is preserved with love and care.
WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT
Chanakyapuri in New Delhi is known for its affluent neighbourhood and for being a diplomatic enclave. But what makes it famous is the National Rail Museum. Hundreds flock daily to this amazing, one-of-its-kind museum, to take a tour and experience the rich history of Indian Railways. Reaching the National Rail Museum is easy by bus, cab, or metro rail.
Its origin dates to the early 70s though the idea of a transport museum was planned as far back as 1962. Thanks to Michael Graham Satow, a rail enthusiast, the museum took shape after foundation stone of the Rail Transport Museum was laid by then President of India VV Giri on October 7, 1971.
Nearly after six years it came to life when the then Minister for Railways Kamlapati Tripathi inaugurated on 1st February 1977.
Originally the Rail Transport Museum was planned as a part of a larger complex covering the history of Railways, Roadways, Airways and Water-ways in India but later developed into a full-fledged National Rail Museum in 1995.
The Museum spread over 11 acres is an elegantly designed octagonal building. There are exhibits housed both indoor and outdoor.
The indoor gallery comprises six display galleries, and a large open display area laid out to replicate the atmosphere of a railway yard. How to go about covering the enormous area of 11 acres, one may ask.
Nothing to worry as a toy train is at hand to carry you around.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets cost Rs. 50 for adult and Rs. 10 for child and on weekdays and weekends it is double at Rs. 100 for adults and Rs. 20 for children. Tickets for the simulators, virtual coach rides and toy train rides can be bought at respective counters.
First of its kind museum in the country, it has the largest number of real, life-sized exhibits of train engines and components.
One can see locomotives and coaches from the princely states across the Indian subcontinent and some of the best train engines ever made in India.
It serves as a home to steam engines like the DHR 777 B, the P Class 31652, the Phoenix, to name a few. It also has many diesel and electrical engines including the Prince of Wales Saloon, the Gaekwar Baroda Saloon, the Nilgiri coach and the Viceregal Dining car. One gets the taste of royalty, first hand walking close to the exhibits.
The Patiala State Mono Rail (PSMT) and the John Morris Fire Engine are the rarest operational exhibits of its kind in the world. The Patiala State Mono Rail was built way back in 1907 and was based on the “Ewing System”. Designed by Col. Bowles this mono rail first ran between Bassi and Sirhind 6 miles a day and the unique train consisted of a track of single rail. The main load (almost 95%) is borne by the single rail while the rest is borne by the balancing wheel which runs on the ground.
This train built by Orenstein and Koppel of Berlin ran until October 1927.
Once cars and buses came the unique mono rail became obsolete.
Luckily an engine and a Chief Engineer’s Inspection car somehow managed to evade being scrapped in the railways scrap yard till 1962. The remains of Patiala State Monorail Trainways was discovered by a railroad historian Mike Satow.
Thereafter, one engine was restored to working order by the Northern Railway Workshop at Amritsar. Chief Engineer’s private inspection car too was reconstructed completely restoring them to running condition. And now they are proud exhibits at the National Rail Museum in New Delhi.
If one wants to celebrate birthday the restaurant inside the museum can be booked for a private party. Meeting room, lawns and auditorium are also available for booking. There is souvenir shop and walk out happily with a scale model of classic steam or diesel engines and coaches.
National Rail Museum is indeed fun going around for all ages. It also teaches us the glorious past of the evolution of Indian Railways. Next time you would want to ride a train for vacation.