As it inches closer to completing its two years of momentous existence, the majestic Heritage Transport Museum in Delhi has been a resounding success story. Attracting myriads of people from across India and the globe, the museum gives a new awareness to modes of transport people have employed since ages. Capturing the essence of how humans traveled down the ages and already a great hit among the travelers and students, the museum unveils the saga of one man’s collection — that of Tarun Thakral, the COO of Hotel Le Meridien, Delhi.
The imposing building with its ultra-modern façade justifies the labor that has gone to set up this classic masterpiece, which shows how man, after discovering wooden slipper to support his movement, began to develop his own transportation mode from roads to sea and to air. The museum just relives this history The museum showcases the evolution of transportation in India and sets a benchmark in interpretation, exhibition and in communication.
As the first private museum of its scale in India, it is conceived as a didactic space that engages visitor participation in learning while remaining a family experience. Asked about setting up of the museum, Tarun said that wheel had always fascinated him since childhood. “I could see how civilisation grew to reach this level ever since wheel came into existence.
Luckily in Delhi one could see so many modes of transport. It just needed to club it together in a thematic presentation that encapsulates almost all mode of transport”. Tarun started collecting cars at an early age and then his interest grew to other mode of transport. “I bought palanquins, bullock cart, camel cart, howdahs used for elephant ride. Hand driven rickshaw, train saloon of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and of course the wild range of automobiles, ships and then planes were added to my personal collection.”
Apart from them there are vintage scooters, and rural Indian contraptions such as chakda and phatphat, as well as a boat that used to ply in the Yamuna. Motorized vehicles of different makes and kinds, including classics as a 1924 Ford, a 1932 Chevrolet, a 1935 Buick also find space in the museum. . As his collection grew in size, the space at his farmland in the suburbs of Delhi became short.
Tarun had a huge chunk of land in Taoru, Haryana and so he decided to transport to the warehouse in the new location. It was at this juncture that the idea to set up the museum began to germinate. The concept then began taking shape. “I have just tried to give something back to the community. I hope this museum becomes a sustainable way for people to look at the past and draw a suitable vantage to look at the present. I chose this place, which is a bit removed from the hustle bustle of Delhi and Gurgaon, for two reasons: firstly, the place will become a getaway from the daily grind of the cities and secondly, the cost of land was prohibitive in Delhi and Gurgaon.”
Among the prized collection at the Museum is an Indian Flag that was taken to the Moon during the Apollo mission. It has been certified by the NASA authorities and Tarun had grabbed it during an auction in the US. There is also a 1946 Piper aircraft, and transport toys from the 1920s to the 1970s displayed at the museum. Apart from these collections, there are other interesting features like old gas station, tires used during the years and even the advertisement that was made for the vehicles.
The Heritage Transport Museum is situated on a three acre plot, off National Highway 8 at TauruGurgaon. Sprawling across four levels, the museum was completed in three years at a cost of Rs14 crore, of which Rs6 crore was provided by the Union ministry of Culture. A built-up area of over 90,000 square feet of air conditioned space houses the exhibition galleries, library and reference center, conference rooms, mini auditorium, the museum shop, and a restaurant facility.
The Times Kuwait Correspondent