For most of us living in Delhi, visiting the National Rail Museum formed one of the best memories of childhood. Its extensive collection of locomotives and coaches from the princely states across India made the visit a lot more exciting.
Of the 17 royal coaches of maharajas that the Indian Railways inherited, eight are exhibited at the museum. These were manufactured between 1889 and 1922.
However, after being exposed to different weather conditions from being kept in an open space, their condition has deteriorated over the years. Many don’t even look like they were ever personally used by Maharajas of princely states.
Fortunately, there is a possibility that these might be put to good use shortly. The Indian Railways is mulling leasing these coaches to hotel chains or tour operators and operating them as restaurants, reports The Indian Express.
If their plans are actualised, we might soon be able to have a unique wine and dine experience on these royal coaches, which will, of course, be refurbished.
Heritage conservation has mostly taken a backseat when it has come to the Indian Railways. To renovate these eight coaches, it will cost about Rs 20 crore. From the thousands of locomotives that operated in the ‘70s, very few have survived, and even most of those have been sold off or wholly deteriorated.
Here’s hoping that these remaining eight coaches are refurbished and put to better use than continuing to idle away in museums.