Did you know that elephants were brought in for construction work of Basin Bridge railway station? That Tagore penned down six poems of his Nobel prize winning Gitanjali collection in our own railway coaches? Indian Railways photo exhibition put up at the Lalit Kala Akademi to commemorate 160 years of Indian Railways, has many more such tidbits to offer.
“The history of Indian Railways is synonymous with the development of India. The British initially introduced the railways to transport cotton from the hinterlands of India to the factories in Europe. They soon came to realise the immense potential that the railways held for the development of the Indian economy. Today, the railways stretch across 63,000 km along the length and breadth of the country,” said Rakesh Misra, General Manager, Southern Railway.
Be it the pictures that show a village women unloading salt into a railway wagon at the Rann of Kutch or a helicopter being transported on a train to army trucks, everything remains in purview of the railways.
The exhibition also shows the involvement of the railways in almost every turmoil that the country has witnessed, be it the picture of thousands of men and women crowding into and on top of a train at the Ambala railway station during partition, or a train chugging through water-ravaged lands during floods.
A number of photographs of Indian leaders — be it Mahatma Gandhi getting out of a third class railway coach or Nehru crouching on the ground at the ceremony of turning the first sod before the construction of the Quilon to Ernakulam railway line — could be seen at the exhibition. In another photograph, one could see Bhagat Singh in a calm conversation, sitting on a cot at a Lahore railway police station, while a metal chain could be seen clinging on to him.
Another interesting section is that of the various workers at the railways. Workers blowing onto the hot coal for the steam engines, the Panipedas in their dhotis and metal buckets who once supplied water to the passengers, a worker manually lighting a lamp at a railway lamp post, a man pouring water on to the coal stored above the engines to prevent the coal dust from flying off and so on.
From the advertisements of Murphy radios and Godrej toilet soaps at the railway station and trains, to European ladies in the majestic gowns and bonnets stepping out of a railway station in Delhi to railway wagons pulled by bullocks, the exhibition has a lot in store. The photographs sourced from the railway archives, the Press Institute, Railway museums and others will be exhibited at the Lalit Kala Akademi till July 16. The entry is free