April 12, 2010

Mani's heritage corner (Part II)

The National Rail Museum in New Delhi has been described as the ‘only place in India where trains take you back in time.’ At another place, an advertisement appearing in a magazine has described it as a place that offers the visitor 'entertainment, education, history, nostalgia, romance . . . all-in-one, all at one place', and prompts him to ‘experience the joy of heritage’
.
Royston Ellis, the famed British travel writer and author of India by Rail had been there many years ago, and spoke of the museum in these words: “For those fascinated by the sight of old locomotives, the museum is delightful. When I was there off-season in July it looked a bit neglected with bored attendants and overgrown gardens but nothing could detract from the majesty of the engines on view” (India by Rail, Royston Ellis; Bradt Publications, UK, p. 124).
.
The museum is spread over a 10-acre space where dozens of heritage locomotives and carriages painted brilliantly in their original livery stand on tracks, each proudly whispering secrets of its own past while it served on India’s vast railway network during the days of the Raj.
.
It would be pointless to indulge here in a full catalogue of description. Besides over 100 life-size exhibits, princely saloons and steam locomotives the museum has an indoor gallery containing such rare articles as a railway Time Table dating back to 1854, and Lord Dalhousie’s original letter to the British Government to open a rail network in India. A recent addition to the museum is a library containing over 8000 old books and records making archival material available to the student of rail history.
.
The pictures which appear here have been kindly provided by Abhimanyu Shaunik. With the exception of brief details at a few places we have refrained from giving a full description of each locomotive, the idea underlying this being that where there is a genuine and deep rooted interest in railway heritage, the absence of supporting technical details offers no great impediment to the enjoyment of the pictorial matter presented. Stand gazing in wonder and amazement at a North Western Railway locomotive, or again, study the crisp detail in a Niligiri Mountain Railway engine . . . this gallery of colourful pictures is a feast to the eye and should urge you on to visit the National Rail Museum yourself !
.
National Rail Museum
Shantipath
Chanakyapuri
New Delhi - 110021