A visit to the National Railway Museum, New Delhi.
“Dear Sir, I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur Station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefor went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with LOTAH in one hand & DHOTI in the next when I am fall over & expose all my shocking to man & female women on platform. I am got leaved Ahmedpur station. This is too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train minutes for him. I am therefor pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.”
This is an actual letter written in the year 1909 by a gentleman (see the photo enclosed) post which it is stated that the Indian railways contemplated putting toilets onto the rail carriages…..the letter is hilarious and it seems to have been written in true earnest. I read it several times and tried to imagine his predicament as he would have tried to do his ‘job’ and at the same time made hurried but alas futile attempts to board the train. A copy of this letter hangs in the Rail Museum in New Delhi and that is where we went to last Sunday.
I had to take special permission from the guys on duty to get this captured on camera as photography is strictly prohibited there…..I wonder why? All the exhibits are history and are now as extinct as the dinosaurs…..anyway, I was allowed to take one photo and that was I just wanted.
Anyway, the museum is located in the heart of New Delhi in Chankayapuri which houses the embassies from all across the world and the location is fantastic and couldn’t ask for a better one but what is unusually striking is the absense of the usual Delhi rush. Unfortunately not too many visitors considering the fact that we went on a Sunday and with the Delhi crowds moving out in hordes over the weekends I had for one anticipated a more of a maddening crowd but I couldn’t make out more than 50 odd cars and a couple of buses in the parking lot…..so essentially I would estimate the number of visitors at about 200….but it is a continuous stream so as people move out there are others who flock in.
It is a unique museum and has fascinating and exotic collection of over 100 real size exhibits of Indian Railways. Static and working models, antique signaling equipments, antique furniture’s, historical photographs and related literature etc. are displayed in the museum. Better to go early in the morning or in the evening unless it’s the Delhi winter season.
The National Rail Museum is worth a visit for those who love locomotives especially the ones with the coal burners and the steam hissing out and using all its might to push the wheels out of its state of inertia. The museum houses many of the old locomotives which is indeed a rare sight to see and a pleasure for a person with an interest in history or antiques. It is indeed kudos to the kind of technology and the level of understanding on the aspects of science…..it is truly amazing to see how they crafted the huge iron wheels, the carriages, the braking system…..and it’s all very scientifically designed. Very awe inspiring indeed!!
The museum is spread across 11 acres of land including indoor and outdoor exhibits. One can ride a toy train that takes you around its sites, it’s quite small but cute and the kids loved it…and I love the time when I see their eyes sparkle. The museum also houses the world’s oldest operational steam locomotive, the Fairy Queen, built in 1855, which was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
I feel that museums provide a great excuse to spend time with friends and family in a positive way and the environment provides a shared learning experience. Museums are examples of informal learning environments, which means they are devoted primarily to informal education which is a lifelong process whereby individuals acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment. It becomes nearly impossible to exit a museum without having gained any information or insight during your visit.
The place is nice but then nothing much to do after you have gone around appreciating the skills of the engineers in those days…..so basically it’s about an hour or so and then there is nothing much to see. I feel that the concerned authorities have somehow lost interest along the way and are managing the entire place without a sense of pride or sense of preserving the glorious majestic steam monsters. The fault lies not totally on them….because if we lead our families and children to the malls over the weekends instead of indulging into history and making it a learning experience we are all to be blamed.