A fun filled day at National Rail Museum

Before moving to a new city or even when we start living in a place, we always try to find out the places, where we can take our children out. For a newcomer in any city, we started hunting for the information and thanks to an era of technology we live in, it’s just a few clicks away.

This story is aimed at those newcomers in a city like Delhi & NCR, as well as parents of growing up children, who would like to spend some quality time with their kids from their hectic work schedule…and Hey you, don’t leave this space so soon! This post is also meant for you. You are always eager to explore new places around the world, but might have missed, ignored or passed through this place (or many such places around you) numerous times in the past.

So, what are you thinking? The winter is already here in this part of the world…it will be the best time to go and explore some of these places. We will wait for you.

A fun-filled day with his best friends

My son’s love affairs with “Thomas & his friends” started when I bought few CDs, along with few small video clippings of ‘Pixar’s work, including “Mater and the Ghost light”. He was not even two, but he used to see them in the laptop and I used to play them again and again, multiple times and call it a day well past midnight, everyday!…just because I had to go to office next day. It was such a joy to see that smiling face. If I were Andrew Stanton or John Lasseter, I would have loved to recreate another “Finding Nemo” or ‘Cars’. I don’t know whether this will reach you or not, but kindly accept a parent’s tribute for creating such wonderful stories for kids. You, including all other animators in the world are doing a wonderful job. There are so many messages which a child can learn by just seeing them, including us, the so called grown-ups.

Coming back to the story, he became an ardent fan of these characters and started believing them as real and considered them to be his best friends. Once he started going to play school, one fine day he asked me that he wanted to meet them in person. By the time, he gave name to all the trains he travelled till date…e.g. “Rajdhani Express” is James, ‘Poorva’ is Thomas, ‘Duronto’ & ‘EMU trains’ are Persey and Emily, because of their respective colors i.e. Red, Blue and Green. I need to book our tickets based on his preference these days. What will a father do in my place? So, the thought to visit Indian Rail Museum came to my mind. Numerous times in the last couple of years, while passing through the road, I saw those rail engines from the flyover but never ever thought to go inside. “Oh, that’s for children and not for me!” I was completely wrong.

Indian Rail, the biggest in the world, is always fascinates me like many of you. So, on Children’s Day, the 14th of November, 2010, we left for a day out with his best friends. Our destination was Rail Museum, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.

National Rail Museum


The National Rail Museum (NRM), originally called the Rail Transport Museum, is a museum in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, operational since 1st of February, 1977. NRM spreads over 11 acres of land with both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The place is very near to Nehru Park or Moti Bagh Flyover and close to the Embassy of New Zealand and next to the Royal Bhutanese Embassy.

There will be many interesting things to see e.g. ‘Steam Loco’, ‘Electric Loco’, ‘Diesel Loco’, ‘Saloon’, ‘Rail Car’, ‘Wagon’, ‘Crane’, ‘Fire Less Engine’, ‘Fire Engine’, ‘Coach’ and also don’t forgot to ride ‘Joy Train’. The following map will be helpful during your visit.

A Guide to National Rail Museum

“All aboard!” and “Close the doors!”
Whistle blows and engine roars.
Spinning wheels beginning to grip.
These are the sounds as we start our trip.”

The first rhyme he remembered, while watching “Thomas and his friends” and it was just like a dream come true for him. Anjishnu was very excited. He promptly went to the first engine, which is just in front of the entry gate, as we were buying tickets (Rs.20/- for Adult and Rs.10/- for child). It was a 2’6” Locomotive with an oversize chimney, originally built for the Karachi Port Trust by the British Firm of Dick Kerr & Co in 1910.  This beautiful engine (MTR-2) also worked at the Marala Timber Depot from 1917 – 1922 and the first one to welcome you while you are visiting NRM. You might have also noticed a similar engine i.e. MTR-1 numerous times while crossing India Gate near Baroda House.

MTR

 

with his friends at last

Indoor Section

You will find various models in the Indoor section. There is a working model of first steam rail engine made by Robert Stephenson, including several other models such as Rajdhani Express, Double Decker coaches, signaling system, EMU coaches, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Pamban Bridge, as well as old railway tickets, metal railways passes to name a few. You will also see a skull of an elephant, which was hit by a mail train while trying to cross the railway track in the Saranda Jungle in Orissa in 1894, causing derailment of the engine and seven coaches. You will also be able to know how toilets were introduced in mail train in India. Photography is not allowed inside, so you will have to visit and laugh yourself while reading the letter behind this.

There is also a section for visual impaired. They can feel the train and other equipments, as well as read about the Railways in Braille.

Indoor Museum

The Joy ride

A toy train offers rides around the NRM on regular days (Rs.20/- for Adult and Rs.10/- for child). As you pass through various engines, coaches, a tunnel, this train journey will definitely take you few years back of your life, remembering those beautiful days when you were a kid and you won’t be disappointed for your visit to another world.

Museum Junction & the Joy ride

This remembers me our journey to Darjeeling long time back while we were in school. The Indian Mountain toy train journey is one of the most impressive and mesmerizing way to explore the verdant hills and mountain valleys of the hill stations of India. While traveling on a toy train one will be lost in beauty of the panoramic view of the hill stations.

After the Joy ride, we started walking to explore the museum. I will try to mention some of the important engines, coaches, saloons in this post. However, there will be many more to see, which will surely no less important than those introduced here but accommodating all of them through this post will be a difficult task. We were mesmerised. So, do explore all of them during your visit.

We come across “Nilgiri Coach” as we started walking. The Nilgiri Toy Train journey runs in between Mettupalayam and Ooty hill station. This narrow gauge train covers a distance of 46 kms. The train runs through the plains, plantations and tropical rainforest of the Nilgiri. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005 and be a part of Mountain Railways of Indian World Heritage Site along with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (1999) and the Kalka-Shimla Railway (2008).

Nilgiri Mountain Railway – A World Heritage site declared by UNESCO in 2005

The Prince of Wales, Saloon (King Edward VII of England) was built with modern amenities in 1875 for his visit to India in 1876.

Saloon of Prince of Wales

There is a personal saloon of Maharaja of Mysore. The saloon is designed using teak, gold, ivory, etc. This Saloon could travel on the broad gauge and the metre gauge without disturbing the occupants.

Saloon of Maharaja of Mysore

Built by the Ajmer Shops of the Erstwhile BB & CI Railway in 1889, this 18 seater eight wheeled, wooden bodied milky white dinning car was a part of the 5 coach Viceregal Train used by the Viceroy of India, during his journey on Metre Gauge sections.

Viceregal Dinning Car

Patiala State Monorail System

This unique train on the Ewing System was built in 1907 by Oren-Stein & Koppel of Germany for the Maharajah of Patiala. It was connected Bassi with Sirhind (approximate 6 miles).  The track was a single rail along one side of the road. The load carrying wheels ran on the rail while a larger single wheel at the end of an outrigger ran on the road, to keep the train upright. Originally pulled by mules, this line was gradually abandoned and finally closed down in 1927.

Patiala State Monorail System

Patiala State Monorail System

Matheran Hill Railway

Matheran Hill Railway

Matheran Hill Railway

Just near the tunnel, you will come across B-777, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Locomotive, built in 1889. DHR is the narrowest gauge of India with 2 feet gauge and total distance of 88 kms from New Jaipaiguri to Darjeeling, which the train covers within six and half hour journey. The engine of the Darjeeling Toy Train is century old and it has been started by the British. You can explore the breathtakingly beautiful views of Himalayas and the tea gardens of Darjeeling. This route has no tunnel.

Did you hear

“O, eh hey hey, ha ha – Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu – Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu – Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu – Chali aa, tu chali aa…or

‘Roop Tera Mastana – Pyar Mera diwana…………Raat Nasheeli – Mast Sama Hai – Aaj Nashe Mein – Sara Jahan Hai ’…may be someone is singing.

What! You couldn’t trace the singer….Dear, it is you! You will definitely remember the first superstar of Indian Cinema Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar or ‘Barfi’ for the present generation.

DHR has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

A working engine of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The Tunnel

You will be amazed to see Hasang (A-885), the smallest steam engine ever used in Indian sub-continent. This small engine can be seen from the flyover while coming from Moti Bagh towards Shantipath (Embassy area in Chanakyapuri).

Hasang (A-885), 1897 – The smallest steam engine ever used in Indian sub-continent

One Steam Locomotive, out of many

Rail car

These are just to name a few as I mentioned earlier. There will be many more waiting for you. We couldn’t locate “Fairy Queen” built in 1855, which was certified as ‘World’s Oldest Working Steam Engine’ by the Guinness Book of World Records, as well as the Bullet Proof train, which was used in World War I.

We never thought this trip will be so informative and enjoyable at the end. Since then, we are regular visitors at this site. This year, we had already made our trip, not once but twice. I am sure once you visit this place, you will also be happy to see those smiling, innocent faces around you, even if you don’t go back to your own childhood days or just be one of them, at least for few hours. It happened to me and it will happen to you as well.

Good to see those smiling faces

There is a cafeteria inside NRM. However, except Potato Chips and Cold Drinks, don’t try anything. You will be completely disappointed. You should carry something to eat. In the last two years, we went there on Children’s day. There were food stalls, game shows for children and I didn’t know whether those stalls continue for the entire winter season or not. Since we couldn’t find them during our last two weekends.

You can also buy models of engines, coaches, books, cup, key chains etc. from the Souvenir shop.

Souvenir shop

Souvenir shop

How many of you still remember these logo

I had shared my experiences. Hope you have enjoyed this trip and thinking to go there now. We also have a small rail museum at home, without any ticket counter and without any restrictions to play with the models, with a food court!

A different Rail Museum at home

All of you are invited.

22 Comments

  • Praveen Wadhwa says:

    A very good post indeed.
    I went to Delhi hundreds of times and passed through this museum countless time but never entered into it. I always thought it must be some mediocre museum because there was no other source to know what is inside.

    Now I know it that it is a gem.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  • Tx Praveen.
    Yes, it is indeed a very good place and good museum.
    Next time, do try a visit, if time permits.

    Take care,

  • Vipin says:

    Hi Amitava Ji, pretty informative and nice post with good photos. The post was able to revive my faint schooldays memories of Rail Museum & it has aroused a yearning to revisit this lovely museum…It also brought back the memories of 2 mountain train experiences (Pathankot-Joginder Nagar & Shimla-Kalka) I enjoyed this year…thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Vipin,

      I am glad that it reminds your childhood memories. I am sure you had enjoyed Indian Mountain Rails as well. I also want to go to Shimla by rail one day – it’s pending for a long time.

      Have a nice day,

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Wow, simply funtastic, Amitava. This is one place which will appeal to children of all ages, a great blend of history, heritage, nostalgia and entertainment. One can say that the modernisation of India began with the Railways and they are now an integral part of our heritage and arguably the single largest factor in unifying our huge and diverse nation.

    I think that there is a minor error; the picture captioned as “One big diesel engine, out of many” is actually a steam locomotive. Kindly correct it.

    Finally, absolutely loved the last pic – the Anjishnu Rail Museum. Please preserve those toys. I can just visualise him showing off these toys to his grandchildren one day.

  • Tx DL.

    I will just send a mail to Archana and Nandan to correct the same, actually there is another minor mistake, I just noticed i.e. MTR-1 becoame MRT-1 at one place – even after end number of reviews – My apology for such stupid mistakes.

    Definitely, I will; these are also my favourites. I sometimes think that most probably I wanted to play with these toys and we play together whenever I find time.

    It’s nice to receive such comments from you – I am glad that you liked it. Take care and have a wonderful day…

  • JATDEVTA says:

    ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ????? ???

    • Tx Sandeep, I saw your remarks after talking to you while in the bus – but couldn’t read because my phone doesn’t understand Hindi…do go there with your child – all of you enjoy…do stay in touch

  • I have been to this museum long long back when my elder daughter was hardly 4-5 years old , now she is going to be 14 years by first week of Dec. 12

    Will go again , never went along with younger one.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Tx Mahesh.
      First of all wishing Varnika a very Happy Birthday.
      I am sure you will love the place along with Swarika whenever you visit the place.
      Couldn’t reply earlier, as I was in your place,a further up from Dehradun, in a village namely Dibli, near Dwathra.

  • Wow Amitava,
    It was really a great post. Perfect blend of information and entertainment.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you Mukesh,

      I am glad you have liked the post. Whenever you will be in Delhi, if time permits do spend 2 to 3 hours here as well.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Thanks for reminding us all about this great museum, since I drive over Shanti path so often but never managed to make a visit to this place.

    Neat description of the place and it appears that it is pretty well organised, unlike many other sights.

    Ok, I have found it here,

    http://skprasad.posterous.com/a-letter-from-railway-museum-i

    This is the famous letter from Okhil Babu, which is supposedly on display in this museum and this one ‘Chithi’ written in 1909 revolutionised India railways, since this led to introduction of lavatories :-)

    Enjoyed the article as usual,

    Auro.

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Tx Auro.
    I am really glad that you liked and enjoyed the post. ‘Reminding’ – well, that was one objective as well.

    So, the threat to go to media was always exists and not a new concept!

  • Nirdesh says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Thanks for the post. The post has brought back childhood memories. We took several trips to the Rail Museum as our school was closeby in Chanakyapuri itself. We were the same age as your kids.

    There was a running joke that when teachers could not figure out any destination they would take us to the rail museum and we would have lunch in Nehru Park.

    Thanks again.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Tx Nirdesh.
      It must have been few years ago when you visited last.
      Whenever we visited, we saw children from at least four to five schools…:)one day, when my wife stopped a kid of my son’s age and enquired about his name and school, he opened his school bag and gave her a notebook. Next, he asked her to give autograph…she started laughing…children are so innocent… we enjoy their company as well.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Hi Amitava !

    Very nice & informative post. Museum pictures are too good.

    Thanks for information about National-rail-museum.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Masterpiece. I say so because it would have entailed a big effort. I know it because I tried remembering everything when I went there, clicked everything but could never get to writing it.

    I had at least two hours to kill since my wife had an appointment in US Embassy. After driving around aimlessly (and realizing that it is plain stupid) I saw this board and went it. It was a enlightening experience looking at the heritage marvels, spread all around. That is like a century worth of engineering looking at your from all across.

    After reading this, I scanned into my inventory for the letter (with a lota in my hand….) which my friend sent me eons back. He probably managed to click it somehow. I could not find it and after reading Auro’s comment, it comes to me that I could have searched online.

    I would just add a couple of things. First, one can get a guide so it gets easier. Second, the cafe inside is pretty sad (as Amitava shared) but there is a street side tea-shop, right opposite the main gate, after the parking space. They also serve Anda Parathas, if I remember correctly.

    Thank you Amitava for taking us around. I must take my daughter here one of these days.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      I am honored, Nandan. You made me feel good, believe me.

      Everytime I wondered, why I didn’t go there before. But everything has a meaningful purpose – we couldn’t go there earlier might be because we wanted to go along with our son and enjoy together.

      Yes, you are absolutely correct – we have seen him. Next time, we will definitely try. I am sure Pihu will love this place as well. Enjoy this beautiful season…

      Take care,

  • Pravesh says:

    A great writeup about this trip.

    I am planning to visit them with family. Thanks for sharing in so much details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.