HUBBALLI: If you want to travel in the trains of yesterday and know the journey of the Railways, you have come to the right station. The newly opened rail museum in Hubballi city invites you to take a journey. A walk through the museum will show you how one of the world’s largest rail networks started with coal-fired engines, encountered new technology and incorporated it to become the institution that it is today: A well-oiled network of 13,500 trains that takes 23 million people to over 7,300 destinations each day. To put that in perspective, the populations of Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad combined board a train each day.
The Hubballi Railway Museum, set up by the South Western Railway in Hubballi city (Dharwad district) which is also its headquarters. It was opened to the public on August 5 and is the second such museum in Karnataka. The brainchild of SWR general manager Ajay Kumar Singh, the museum’s chief architect is SWR principal chief mechanical engineer Ravi Kumar. It comprises two cottages built in 1907 and named Ghataprabha and Malaprabha – after two tributaries of the Krishna River – and an outdoor exhibit.
Ghataprabha cottage has a beautiful working model of a train with signal instruments. It also presents visitors with chronicles of locomotives, wagons and coaches. There is a history corner that talks about old railway companies and a section where you can see the working of the Railways on medical and security fronts. Visitors can also buy memorabilia from a counter here.
Enter the Malaprabha cottage, and a series of beautiful charcoal sketches greet you. Other attractions in the cottage include displays of ticket counters, printed tickets and iron chests for cash. It also has a replica of a Station Master’s room equipped with a life-size statue of the officer and a replica of a parcel office with a 150-year-old weighing machine.
The highlight of the museum though, is probably the outdoor exhibit, which has the Galaxy of Rolling Stock. Rolling stock refers to vehicles used in the railways. Besides coaches, wagons and tankers, which are displayed on tracks, the exhibit also includes rails, sleepers, level-crossing gates and signals.Another section of the outdoor exhibit displays a narrow-gauge coach themed “Unity in Diversity” in which life-size statues of passengers from across the country dressed in their cultural clothes are seated. One can even catch educative and entertaining short films and videos at the theatre coach.
A combination of talent and resources of the engineering, electrical, science and technology and operations departments of the railways made the museum possible, says E Vijaya, chief public relations officer of the SWR. Internal resources were mobilised to build the museum and no separate fund was allotted for the project, she adds.The museum has been designed with needs of all age groups in mind.
While the Ghataprabha cottage has a children’s activity corner, another attraction that is likely to make the visit memorable for children as well as adults, is the toy train, with colour carriages and a steam engine, which was manufactured at the Hubballi workshop. If all this excitement makes you hungry, you can stop by the grand coach restaurant, or the Suruchi cafeteria, which offers a menu of regional delicacies.
- Tuesday to Friday: 12 noon to 7 pm
- During weekends and public holidays: 12 noon to 8 pm
- Holiday on Monday
- For adults D20
- For children (5-12 years) D10
- Free for kids less than 5 years old
- D10 for toy train
SOPs for visitors
- In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, entry for visitors to the museum is restricted to 30 members at a time. Visitors have to sanitise their hands using sanitiser dispensers provided, compulsorily wear face mask and maintain social distancing. Theatre and restaurant coaches will remain closed until return of normalcy.