The Life of the Indian Locomotive

The Life of the Indian Locomotive
Visit these museums to learn more about the Indian railways, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If you are loco about locomotives, you need to check out these museums to expand your information

Sahana Iyer
October 26 , 2019
04 Min Read

With a historical past as rich and multi-faceted as India’s, there is always more to learn about every industry. If your interest lies in the locomotives of the country, you are in luck. For there are many structures in the country that document the history and logistics of this lifeline of India. No matter what end of the country you hail from, there is a rail museum somewhere in that part of India. From the initially abundant steam engines to the recent rapid transit metro, we have collated a list of museums to visit for every rail fan:

A train displayed at the National Rail Museum in Delhi


National Rail Museum, Delhi

Inaugurated in 1977, the National Rail Museum in Delhi is the largest collection of trains in the country. From miniature models to full scale train sets, you are provided with abundant options. The museum documents 163 years of the locomotive industry in the country. You can view steam, diesel and electric trains here. It also proudly possesses the only steam monorail locomotive and coach in working condition. Additionally, the building -despite being constructed decades ago- is constantly modernised with interactive displays and games to keep visitors engaged. The exteriors capture one’s attention immediately with famous train scenes from Bollywood films painted across the walls. You can also take a ride in the joy or ride train.

Joshi’s Museum of Miniature Railways, Pune

One of its kind, this one is for those who enjoy intricately built model trains. Joshi’s Museum of Miniature Railways is a personal collection of B.S. Joshi. Opened to the public in 1998, this museum soon became a part of tourism in Pune, owing it to its novelty factor. The place often features shows where they display the trains in working condition and also discuss the various aspects of the models. The trains are controlled by a computer. What was once a hobby for the founder, soon was turned into a tourist attraction highlighting various model trains built by him. Unfortunately, the founder passed away only a short while after the museum went public. It is now managed by his son. 

 A track setup at the Howrah Railway museum in Kolkata

Howrah Railway Museum, Kolkata

While the National Rail Museum provides detailed overall information about the history of railways in India, there are many other museums that offer a more regional take on the industry. One such museum is the Howrah Railway Museum in Kolkata. Inaugurated in 2006, it showcases the history of the Railways specific to the eastern regions of India. The museum consists of a photographic wall walking you through historically significant events along with models of trains. The large compound in the structure is sprinkled with kiosks that focus on particular aspects of locomotives. These include electrical items, personnel uniforms, time-keeping and even postage stamps! The museum also offers rides on a toy train and is easily accessible from the Howrah Station itself.

Chennai Rail Museum, Chennai

Another museum dedicated to the regional history of the industry, the Chennai Rail Museum specifically covers the southern region of the country and its history of the rail industry. Inaugurated in 2002, it details the technical aspects as well as the heritage of locomotives. It houses an impressive collection of steam engines that ran during the British rule in India. Additionally, it also has a working scale model of trains and the rare artefacts found on them. Vintage coaches can also viewed here. The outdoor as well indoor displays ensure a complete coverage of the subject. As in the other museums, a toy train is available for a fun ride.

The exhibit of the Austin Rail car in Mysuru

Railway Museum, Mysuru

Located in Karnataka is the Railway Museum of Myuru. The museum is an outdoor exhibit of vintage locomotives of India. The setup even features details such as signals and lights. Open since 1979, the museum also features a wall adorned with pictures and paintings of the development of railways in the country. Parts of the collection were originally in Mysore Palace originally, later moved to the current location. Carrying on the legacy of train museums, a functional toy train is available for rides. An interesting display in the museum is that of the Austin Railway car which is an automotive fitted to run on railway tracks to carry inspection officials.

Metro Museum, Delhi

While railways immediately draws our mind to the older diesel and steam engines, it is important to note that the evolution of transport also includes metros in the country. The Metro Museum in Delhi focusses on the technical background of the metro in the capital, especially the historic journey of the DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation). It details the construction of the metro and even discusses challenges faced along the way. The structure is also known as South Asia’s first modern metro museum. 


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