Introduction

The Narrow-Gauge Rail Museum was inaugurated by Shri Nitish Kumar, the then-honourable Minister of Railways, on December 14, 2002, the eve of the 150th Anniversary of Indian Railways. It is located on Nagpur-Jabalpur NH No. 7, on Kamptee Road, close to Kadbi Square, in Motibagh. The museum is housed in a former Broad Gauge Steam Loco shed, which spans 5.6 acres. With a network of more than 1005 km, the Nagpur Division of Southeast Central Railway once held the unique distinction of maintaining the largest Narrow Gauge Railway system in Indian Railways. The narrow gauge has been transformed into the broad gauge over time because of gauge conversion. On November 25, 2019, the Itwari – Nagbhir section’s 110 km-long final network was shut down for gauge conversion. As a result, the entire Nagpur Division narrow gauge system is now recorded in history. This museum was established because of its foresight to preserve and present the history of the narrow-gauge railway system.

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Entry Gate of Museum_ Narrow Gauge Rail Museum Nagpur (Entry Fee, Timings, History, Images, Location & Entry ticket cost price) – Nagpur Tourism 2023

Exhibits

The Main Museum building contains several thematic galleries based on various railway departments, such as locomotives, coaches, wagons, signals, and telecom. Photographs, models, parts & components, and other visual displays are utilised to convey information about these departments. There is a stunning 1916 Bagnall steam locomotive, a wooden-bodied Royal Carriage built in 1899 for the Paralakhemundi Royalties, and a ZDM2RA class diesel locomotive built in 1964. The “Heritage” gallery features lovely german-silver cutlery used in royal carriages, a coal-fired oven, a distinctive foldable wash basin, a collection of postage stamps on Indian and foreign railways, old technical bulletins, manuals, reports, and correspondence letters, as well as various aspects and distinctive characteristics of the narrow-gauge system that are exquisitely portrayed through paintings.

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Diesel Loco 1964 built_ Diesel Loco 1964 built – Picture of Narrow Gauge Rail Museum, Nagpur – Tripadvisor

Everyone is invited to watch short films about the narrow-gauge railway system and other fascinating information in an auditorium with a seating capacity of about 50 people. A horse van, first-class coach, postal van, rail bus and various goods-carrying waggon types are on display in the covered yard. A North British Locomotive Co. Ltd. CC class steam locomotive from 1907 and an Italian-made Steam Crane from 1956 are the two main attractions. The most unusual and probably one of a kind in the nation, the air-conditioned revolving coaches seat 24 people and were created by artistically restoring two coaches mounted on a motorised turntable that rotates once every 15 minutes.

Design and Attractions of the Museum

The main building, a tastefully renovated 100-year-old steam loco shed, is located on about 4 acres of beautifully landscaped land at the Narrow-Gauge Museum. The beautifully landscaped garden of the museum site has a sizable play area for kids with swings, slides, etc. The main draw and most well-liked among visitors is a toy train called “Orange City Express.” It travels along the museum’s outer perimeter on a track that is 500 metres long perimeter which features a variety of exhibits and passes through lovely gardens and landscapes is a favourite of both young and old visitors alike. As a result, all visitors to this museum receive a nice mix of education and entertainment.

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Toy train_ Local Guides Connect – [Recap] – Accessible Nagpur – Narrow Gauge Railway… – Local Guides Connect

View from the Entrance of the Museum Building

Visitors are drawn to the 5 Bagnall, a charming little steam locomotive, at the entry gate. There are six thematic galleries of various railway departments on the left side of the building. There is an auditorium, a gallery of historical items, and the manager’s office on the right side.

Rolling Stock in Yard

In a covered shed in the yard, various kinds of goods-carrying wagons, including coal wagons, gasoline wagons, flat wagons, and covered wagons, are on display. Along with these wagons, there are also passenger-carrying coaches on display, including a First-Class coach, a postal van coach, and a rail bus.

Commercial and Operating Gallery

The Commercial and Operating gallery houses a vintage cash box, printed card tickets punching machine, and parcel weighing machine built in 1897. Old working timetables, an old water hand pump at the station, and uncommon images from the time before independence are also on display.

Revolving Restaurant

One Dining Car no. GC 28 and one Observation Car no. 10 WCE, which were formerly a part of the Inspection Special Train, were renovated and made into rotating coaches. They can accommodate 24 people at a time. These coaches are set up on a motorised turn table, which rotates once every 15 minutes. Narrow gauge coaches are kept on a turntable that rotates automatically because the motors have been artistically remodelled and serve as a beautiful restaurant and can be seen as an example of adaptive reuse.

Revolving Restaurant_Narrow Gauge Rail Museum Nagpur (Entry Fee, Timings, History, Images, Location & Entry ticket cost price) – Nagpur Tourism 2023

Conclusion

A fascinating example of India’s rich railway heritage is the Narrow-Gauge Rail Museum in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The museum effectively preserves the history of the formerly flourishing narrow-gauge railway system that was vital to the movement and development of the area through its varied exhibits. Visitors are taken back in time as they become engrossed in the fascinating tales of the locomotives, coaches, and wagons.

The museum serves as a shining example of how historical structures can be repurposed for modern enjoyment while honouring the spirit of the past through its creative adaptive reuse. The Narrow-Gauge Rail Museum is a landmark that will continue to protect India’s railway heritage for upcoming generations.

References:

  1. (No date) About museum indoor exhibits – south east central railway zone. Available at: https://secr.indianrailways.gov.in/uploads/files/1312174469063-NG%20Museum.pdf (Accessed: 30 July 2023). 
  2. (No date) Vir Rail NGP – South East Central Railway Zone. Available at: https://secr.indianrailways.gov.in/uploads/files/1589353397782-motibagh_compressed.pdf (Accessed: 30 July 2023). 

Image list:

Image 1 Entry Gate of Museum Narrow Gauge Rail Museum Nagpur (Entry Fee, Timings, History, Images, Location & Entry ticket cost price) – Nagpur Tourism 2023

Image 2 Diesel Loco 1964 built Diesel Loco 1964 built – Picture of Narrow Gauge Rail Museum, Nagpur – Tripadvisor

Image 3 Toy train Local Guides Connect – [Recap] – Accessible Nagpur – Narrow Gauge Railway… – Local Guides Connect

Image 4 Revolving Restaurant Narrow Gauge Rail Museum Nagpur (Entry Fee, Timings, History, Images, Location & Entry ticket cost price) – Nagpur Tourism 2023

Author

Shreya Bhattacharya is a final year architecture student at Jindal School of Art and Architecture. With a keen interest in art and a curiosity for discovering and learning new things, Shreya is dedicated to unravelling the stories behind art and the lived spaces. Through her writings, she aims to capture and explore the intricate relationship between people and their built environments.