A train lover at heart? Here is your one-way ticket to rediscovering India's rich railway heritage.
The National Rail Museum in Delhi is a must-see for any railway enthusiast. Situated near the embassy of Bhutan in Chanakyapuri, the Railway Museum is spread over 11 acres of land and is a one of a kind museum in India. It is the home of some of India's finest and rarest antique steam locomotives.
Indoor sections of the National Rail Museum
There are two parts to the indoor sections of the Railway Museum. There are the magnificent live exhibits and there is a dedicated museum
section that has models of railway engines and coaches. It also has write-ups, which chart the evolution of the Indian railways. There are scale models, both working and still, of railway engines and the various types of coaches that have been used by the Indian railways over the years.
Apart from models, the museum also has some interesting exhibits, such as a collection of builder plates of companies that have constructed some of the locomotives that are on display. Also on display are a number of historic photographs, documents, and coats of arms. One can also find a number of antique furniture pieces on display along with instruments that have been used by the railways in the past. There are also mannequins displaying uniforms of the Indian railways.
Outdoor sections of the National Rail Museum
The outdoor exhibits are the true crowd-pullers for this museum. In a specially constructed outdoor exhibit, visitors can marvel at the splendour and grandeur of previous years' locomotives and carriages. On display is India's first steam engine that made its journey from Mumbai
to Thane in 1853. Each locomotive is kept in pristine condition, having been restored and maintained on a regular basis. The locomotives have a dedicated plaque, giving tourists a brief synopsis about the history of each of the engines and carriages. While some locomotives are housed in sheds, most are in the open. They are interconnected with well-planned pathways to ensure that visitors can take in all the exhibits with ease.
The sprawling layout of the museum also includes a canteen and a turntable for trains. The turntable is used to change the direction of the train and switch it to a different track within the museum's mini-railway network. There is also a separate joy train track.
The trains on display come in all shapes and sizes. From the tiny Diesel Shunter Fowler to the first electric locomotive EA 4006, each has it own unique charm.
- On display is the saloon carriage of the Gaekwad of Baroda. Tourists can see the interior of the saloon and marvel at the opulence.
- One of the most prized exhibits is the Fairy Queen. This train dates back to 1855 and is the oldest working steam engine in the whole world. The last time it was used for a journey was in 1997 between Delhi to Alwar.
- Another important exhibit is the Morris Fire Engine. Built in 1914, by famous fire engineers M/s. John Morris and Sons Ltd. of Salford, Manchester, this engine was sold to the Nizam of Hyderabad. The fire engines were in production until 1921 and were known for their patented wet-type, metal-to-metal multiple clutches. In addition, major components, such as the radiator, were manufactured by specialised manufacturers. There is only one other such fire engine that still exists in the world, making this National Rail Museum's exhibit extremely rare.
- The museum even has a small toy train that takes visitors around the external exhibits.
- On certain days, the Old Patiala State Steam Monorail can be seen chugging around a track within the museum premises.
Avoid visiting the museum during the rains
as seeing the outdoor exhibits will be hampered due to limited cover for most of the exhibits. The museum has its own small souvenir shop. Be sure to buy a souvenir book of the museum before you embark on the external exhibits. This will allow you to pick and choose the exhibits that you want to see if time is a constraint for you. Also available are paper weights and other memorabilia that the collector in you may like to buy as a souvenir of your visit to the museum.