Wheeling down the memory lane: Heritage Transport Museum Review

Have you ever wondered where and how the ‘wheel’ as we know it, came to be? Did you know - cycles made an appearance in India only in 1890? Were you aware that pre-machine age man used not just one but a variety of handcarts and palanquins to commute from one place to another? Don’t know the answers? Don’t bother with Google, just get set to visit the first of its kind Transport Museum in Gurgaon!

Nestled amongst the lush green farms in Taoru, Gurgaon, the Heritage Transport Museum is an eclectic building in ochre, spread across 90,000 square feet and houses a mix of the pre-modern era and modern era cars, and other modes of transport. With a limousine, a yellow-black cab and a couple of bullock carts welcoming you in, it definitely sets the tone of what to expect inside! A unique feature of this museum is that it does not merely educate its audience, but also interacts with them at the same time. This is a critical aspect for children who cringe at the idea of exploring museums. But no cringing will happen here as the vehicle exhibits are placed up front, not encased in glass, letting little car enthusiasts get the touch and feel of the cars showcased here. In addition to this, photography is allowed inside, so your kids can go back into an era of their choice and pose with as many cars as they want.

As you enter the first zone aka pre-mechanised transportation, you are introduced to the history of the wheel, giving you the answer to where it was invented - in Mesopotamia, the current day Baghdad. You then move onto the progression of transportation in India with palanquins, howdahs, bullock carts, horse carriages and carts pulled by camels. A ‘must see’ for kids in this section are the antique decorative objects such as lamps used for carriages, carbide lamps and finials for palanquins!

Soon man witnessed the invention of the wheel, and this image gave birth to the cycle! To us, the bicycle seems super ordinary, but when it made its first appearance in 1890 in India, it was the most sought-after ‘vehicle’ that could be acquired at a hefty price of Rs 45 back then! A child’s first bike or cycle is equally relevant today so reading about the history of cycles supported with exhibits is sure to be an exciting experience. This zone houses different varieties of scooters, mopeds and motorcycles. Do not miss the domestic rural transport vehicles such as the jugaad, chakda, phat-phatiya and the Ganesha displayed here!

Growing up in India, our childhood is synonymous with bus rides and the long queues at the bus depots. However, kids today have barely experienced this side of transportation what with families owning fleets of cars. As a tribute to this memory, the massive mechanised transportation zone is designed just like a bus depot with restored vintage buses on display. One also gets a chance to visit the tramways and vintage vans. Do not miss out on the truck art display!

Train travel was a huge part of our growing up years, what with our holidays to ancestral homes or ‘nanihaal’. To make it endearing and engaging to kids as well as adults, the railway's section is designed precisely like an old-world railway platform with the 1930s restored railway saloon from BBCI Railway on display. The best part about this restored saloon is that you can explore the interiors to get the feel of the house the royals travelled in the past era. Do not miss the old train tickets, lamps, old railway maps, locomotives and other memorabilia on display!

Next comes the automobiles gallery. In short, heaven for car lovers; both big and small! Yes, this section house 75 cars, mapping the evolution of vehicles in India as well as those cars that were first used in India since the advent of motoring. The gallery is designed on the lines of yesteryears Indian street with a display of vintage repair shops and other memorabilia. It also houses a vintage petrol pump. Kids will undoubtedly recognise Shahrukh Khan’s car from Dil Toh Pagal Hai here!

The next gallery will impress kids, particularly the aeroplane-crazy ones, still further. The Aviation gallery welcomes you with a restored 1940s Piper J3C Cub aircraft suspended mid-air in its signature colour – chrome yellow. In this section, one gets an insight into the history and evolution of aviation industry in India with its early trials and experiments. It also maps the growth of Air India. Do not miss the first aircraft models, ads, timetables and tickets on display here!

The Maritime Gallery is a short one, depicting the history of inland waterways in India, their evolution and decline with the models of navigational maps, boats, aquatints and etchings.
The Heritage transport museum also houses a section on Collectible Indian Toys on Transport - a nostalgia trip for most, One cannot miss the Contemporary Art Gallery too. In this part, the museum allows contemporary artists to display their installations that have been inspired by modes of transport. Currently, there are five exhibits on display. Do not miss the Victoria Terminus model! The above sections make for a great interactive history session for kids.

If the details haven’t interested you enough to plan your visit already, let me summarise why you ‘must’ visit –

You will love the quirky attention to detail - the ticket counter is a bright red Bentley coupe, the mirrors in the washroom are those of large busses, sounds of trains, cars, honks etc. are played in the background.
You will get practically all information about cars that you could have wanted.
You can make this visit into nothing short of a fun picnic!
You’ll find it easily accessible for everyone – mother with strollers or the physically challenged as there are ramps & elevators to take you from one section to another.
And most importantly, because it has so much space, it makes a great birthday party venue for your little ones!

To get there, you can follow this Google Map. One need not worry about food as they have a cafeteria within the Museum. The museum is open on all days from 10 am to 7 pm. The tickets are reasonably priced at:

A single day visit – INR 300
Children under 12 – INR 150
Students with valid ID – INR 150

Free admission for disabled people and 1 companion, and children under the age of three! (This information is not updated. Please check their website.)

This post was originally published in January 2014 on www.mycity4kids.com. You can read it here: Heritage Transport Museum Review

Please note All images taken from Heritage Transport Museum website. These are used here only for representation purposes. 


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