Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum
This is one of the three museums of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which show cases the history and evolution of the famous steam engine hauled toy train with many original exhibits, pictures, sketches and artifacts. Toy Train was designed by the British during the colonial days and commissioned in 1880s to provide a vital public transport in the hills that could overcome the steep gradients using amazing engineering marvels.
The museum is located at the Kurseong station. Unless you know, you will surely make a round through the station and the platform and come back without locating it.
In fact very strangely this public museum is kept closed unless you go to the booking office and make a request to the staff. Reason? There isn't enough staff to man it.
But once you buy the Rs. 10/- entry ticket from the booking office, the staff will call a lady to take you to the Museum room. It's accessible from the platform itself and a board on the door says 'Railway Archives'. The lady opens the lock and then switches on all the lights and the beautiful museum springs into play. It's all yours exclusively.
It's a large room full of exhibits & artifacts, all are properly labeled, so you won't have any problems in understanding. But one of the annoying things is that the lady keeps standing at one corner as if giving you a constant reminder to hurry up. But she never said anything though while I took my time to go through the exhibits in great details.
DHR Museum & Archives, Kurseong
So what can you see? I was surprised to see many rails and parts used on the original DHR railway tracks laid in 1880, and the equipment used to lay and join the rails.
Original Rails & Accessories, Kurseong
There are also large many framed black & white pictures and sketches on the walls that show the toy train negotiating the most difficult terrain in the hills like the Agony loop, Chunbatti loop and many others. And there are of course pictures of the original engines, how they looked like and the coaches.
Agony Point, Black & White Picture
At the middle part of the large room are glass covered cabinets on stands that depict the story of the toy train. There are several news paper articles of those days describing the train and its journey and many write ups on the history & other details. There are also many articles about Darjeeling itself, why its name and so on.
Another great exhibit at the museum is the Hand Operated Printing Machine that was manufactured in 1890. It was manufactured by D.J Higgins of London and installed by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at the end of 19th century. After serving the railway for decades, it has been now preserved as a Heritage Machine in the railway museum.
Hand Operated Printing Machine
The machine is kept right next to the entrance and on the right as you enter.
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