Thursday, 5 June 2014

A Visit to the Railway Museum at Chanaky Puri, New Delhi

When I decided to take my kids to the Railway Museum at Chanakya Puri, Delhi, it was out of a desire to meet the old beauties there. I wanted also to show my kids how royalty travelled all those days ago. Imagine, most of the Maharajas travelling in their own coaches drawn by their own trains! Another reason for deciding on a visit to the Museum was based on the fact that it is very close to Gurgaon. 
One of the star attractions at the railway museum is the ride around the outer extremities on the toy train. What is good about the Railway Museum is the reasonable entry fees, a nominal Rs. 10/- for children, and a nominal Rs. 20/- for Adults. What is bad, however is the parking! The attendant told us that  the cost of parking would be Rs. 10/- but then when we got out of the Museum after about two hours and fifteen minutes, we were told that we would have to pay double the amount since we had exceeded the one hour limit. What left me wondering was why have a one hour slot for a visit that would in any case last longer than an hour? I would like to mention here that a visit to the Railway Museum will in any case last much more than an hour, that is if you decide to visit the indoor museum, the souvenir shop, go on a toy-train ride, and go visiting the outdoor exhibits. The exhibits are spread over a wide area in a campus that is large by all means!
The National Railway Museum is a must visit for all those who are visiting New Delhi for a short period of time, and moreover, it is accessible from Gurgaon and the surrounding towns. It is situated in the Moti Bagh area, close to all those foreign embassies and is never very crowded. The only warning to visitors is to wear protective gear to prevent sun burn, and to carry lots of drinking water, or for that effect even empty water bottles which can be refilled from the water taps that supply chilled and purified drinking water all over the place.
It might also be a good idea to carry some money in your purse if you want to buy souvenirs from the souvenir shop. Some of the products on offer are tee-shirts, stamps, models of Railway engines (which, incidentally are of very good quality) and some really good books on The Indian Railways, and the History thereof.
Once we entered the premises of the Railway Museum, we proceeded to the indoor museum where we were treated to a display of railway equipment like electronic monitoring  displays, signal lamps, models, and photographs. It would however have been a better experience if the models had been working, the air-conditioning had been more effective, and the lighting more pervasive. After visiting the indoor museum, we all went for a joy ride on the toy train, grown ups and children. It was a rather exciting ride, replete with the train whistle, the characteristic clanking of the wheels over the rail joints, and the tunnel where everyone started to whistle and shout. All the while we passed stationary exhibits of Steam Engines, Diesel Locomotives, Electric Locomotives, and coaches of different kinds and in different states of maintenance.
After the toy train ride came to an end, we proceeded on foot to have a look at the stationary exhibits, some of which had been covered with a tall shade, while the others had been left to face the elements, the sun, and rain and the wind. We were in any way transported to another world, a fairy tale and romantic world of  magnificent steam engines idling at the railway stations, royalty travelling in luxurious coaches with all the facilities, an entire living room, or a bedroom with an attached water closet,  a mobile state room for deciding the running of the state, or perhaps the Viceroy’s own coach? Well did I see it? I don’t know,  you see, there were so many exhibits to see.
It was an altogether wonderful time that we had at the Railway museum, and if you asked us whether we’d like to go back another time, then all of us would concur that definitely we would surely love to visit those ancient ladies any time!

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