Rail museum in north Karnataka showcases heritage, artefacts

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Rail museum in north Karnataka showcases heritage, artefacts

Hubballi (Karnataka):  The newly set up rail museum in north Karnataka’s Hubballi showcases heritage and artefacts of the Indian Railways that takes visitors down its memory lane.

“The new museum, to open for public from Wednesday, will enthrall visitors with its rich heritage and priceless artefacts dating back to over a century when coal-fired steam engines chugged trains across the country,” an official told IANS here.

Hubballi is about 400km northwest of Bengaluru in the southern state and where the South Western Railway (SWR) zone is headquartered.

Located in idyllic settings near the railway station on Gadag road, the museum displays the evolution of advanced systems in railway operations in two cottages named after Ghataprabha and Malaprabha tributaries of the Mahadayi river in the state’s northwest region and an outdoor section.

“The museum preserves and portrays various facets of the railways’ working, including vintage rolling stock (engines), theatre coach, toy train, ticket printing machine, model train run, memorabilia shop and cafeteria,” said the official.

Under a grand arch of a bygone era, the museum has emblems of the zonal railway’s forerunner – Southern Mahratta Railways in the erstwhile Bombay Province.

“In the outdoor landscape, two narrow gauge steam engines are a prime attraction and a slew of exhibits on a track such as a coach, wagon and tanker.

Old materials like rails, sleepers, level crossing gate and analogue signals are displayed in the galleries amidst greenery.

A narrow gauge coach depicting unity in diversity with life-size statues of passengers from across the country is a special attraction for visitors.

The twin cottages, built in 1907, and made part of the museum reminds of the old age charm with indoor artefacts.

The Ghataprabha cottage features a model room with a running train and old signal instruments.

History of locomotives, wagons and coaches is presented along with antique books and plants. It also gives glimpses of railways’ working on medical and security fronts.

A memorabilia counter where souvenirs can be bought and a history corner on old railway companies are also in the same cottage.

The Malaprabha cottage has a series of charcoal sketches in an art gallery at its entrance. An old booking office with a ticket counter, printed tickets and an iron cash chests reflect reminiscences of the ticketing era.

A station master room is simulated with a panel, apparatus, registers, furniture and life-size statues of a station master and a points-man.

The adjacent room is designed on the theme of a waiting room with antique furniture. A parcel office has been recreated with a 150-year-old parcel weighing machine.

In view of the pandemic, only 30 visitors will be allowed inside the museum at a time to maintain social distancing. They have to wear mask and enter the place after washing hands with sanitizer dispensers at the entrance.

The museum will be opened to the public from August 5-9 with free entry from 4-7 p.m. It will be open from August 11 between 12 noon and 7 p.m. on working days (Tuesday to Friday) and between 12 noon and 8 p.m. on weekends and public holidays, with a holiday on Monday. The entry fee is Rs 20 for adults and Rs 10 for children of 5-12 years of age.

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