About National Rail Museum, Delhi
Delhi’s National Rail Museum remains a great spot to visit: not least to gain a sense of exactly how important railways are in India, both in terms of infrastructure but also the large cultural role they play in India’s complex history.
History of the National Rail Museum
It’s almost impossible not to end up on a train on a trip to India: they remain a vital network of arteries across the huge country, and by far the best way to travel in comparison to the roads, which are often in a state of disrepair and downright dangerous.
Roughly 23 million people use Indian Railways daily (the company employs over 1 million people, and is the 8th biggest employer in the world), and there’s around 123,500km of track and 7,349 stations across India – making it very much worthy of a museum in its own right.
A transport museum was first proposed in 1962, but it took nearly another 10 years for this to be actioned. The foundation stone was laid in October 1971 by the then-President, V. V. Giri, and the museum was inaugurated in 1977. However, it ended up only covering the history of railways in India rather than transportation as a whole, and was renamed accordingly in 1995.
National Rail Museum today
Spread across 11 acres, the museum takes time to fully explore: it houses vintage steam locomotives and carriages, including the former Viceregal Dining Car and the Maharaja of Mysore’s saloon car which are worth looking out for in order to understand the opulence that was once present in India.
For a small extra cost, you can ride on the toy train, joy train or steam train which shunt around the grounds – they are particularly popular with families and small children.
Documents and artefacts relating to Indian Railways’ 160 year history give a flavour of how much things have changed since the railway’s inception, and the more modern (although sometimes questionable) railway simulators are entertaining.
Getting to the National Rail Museum
The museum is located in south west Delhi, close to Nehru Park. The nearest metro station is Sir M Vishveshwaraiah Moti Bagh on the Pink line (roughly 2km away), and it’s also close to the mainline railway station of Delhi Safdarjung (around 1km away). Taxis and tuk tuks from central Delhi will be able to get you here no problem, although be warned the 7.5km trip may take a while given the state of Delhi’s traffic.
With a history dating back to the 10th century, and the 3rd largest city in the world today, Delhi remains a popular starting or finishing point for travellers exploring Northern India. Beyond the chaos and the smog, Delhi is crammed with rich and varied historic sites which help tell the story of this remarkable city.