Gurgaon’s Heritage Transport Museum with all its vehicle flamboyance intact has entered the Limca Book of Records as the “first-of-its-kind” transport museum in India. With floor upon floor of buses, boats, trains, horse drawn carriages, camel carts and palanquins, it records the tale of innovation and ambitions in the transportation universe. The Fords, Renaults, Ambassadors, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Beetles form an automobile paradise. A vintage petrol pump from last century to a 1920 wooden toy cycle, Heritage Transport Museum is a time capsule on wheels.
The Humble Beginning
Heritage Transport Museum is the brainchild of Tarun Thakral, the chief operating officer of Le Meridien hotel in Delhi. When not making business decisions, he is collecting—mainly vehicles, but also items like oil lamps, sewing machines, old cameras, typewriters, enamel advertising signs, and miscellaneous ephemera. The museum, which grew out of his personal collection, opened in December 2013.
The Museum Design With Sense of Humor
Spread over almost 100,000 sq. ft, Heritage Transport Museum is India’s largest private museum. Instead of following a chronological path, the museum creates visually stunning spectacles. The galleries on different floors are all built around the central atrium, so while exploring one, you can see the contents of the others. This design lends an effect of constant contextualisation, understanding where we’ve been and where we are going.
The grey interiors hint at a defunct factory dotted with atleast 100 modes of transport. The ticket counter is a dissected car serving as a table; bike handles have been repurposed as door handles; chairs are made of bicycle steel rims, their seats are rubber tyres; the toilets have, for a looking glass, an assemblage of wing mirrors from trucks. The museum houses a library and research centre, café, souvenir shop, conference rooms and they also have Venues-on-hire.
The Collection with Sense of Quirk
The museum boasts of close to 2500 artefacts collected over double decades from different parts of the country. On the ground floor, even before you enter the galleries, sits a Ganesha sculpture made completely out of automotive spare parts. Donated to the museum by the Ford Foundation, it was made by artists Nishant Sudhakaran and Madhvi Khaitan Pittie. It consists of over 800kg of handpicked materials like brakes, fenders, clutch plates, chains, gears and connecting rods.
The spectacular collection features Automobile Gallery with 75 vintage cars.
The Heavy Mechanized Transportation space showcases romances of bus journey and tramways.
Railways Gallery explores the grandeur of travel by rail through a historically inspired railway platform and a 1930s restored railway saloon.
Aviation details the history and evolution of Indian aviation industry, including early trials and experiments with early models of aircraft on display.
From the palanquin to the auto-rickshaw done up in colorful pattern to the Beetles, it is a fabulous journey of generations.
The museum does not forget a quintessential part of Indian Transportation, the Truck Art!!! Cheeky ‘Dekho Magar Pyar Se’’ or ‘Dekh Mat pagli Pyar Ho Jayega’ stand out on shutters with extravagant color and design.
Heritage Transport Museum is the only place in the world where you get to witness a railbus from Eastern Railway circa 1955. Currently, discontinued across the country, the quaint vehicle, powered by diesel, ran on narrow-gauge train tracks.
What to Expect
With a fine amalgamation of design, art and history, Gurugram’s Heritage Transport Museum is anything but mundane. In our everyday life, we will easily overlook a gear box or four-stroke diesel engine but this place invites you to delve deep into such automobile affair. The Heritage Transport Museum (HTM) sets a benchmark for other Indian museums in terms of exhibition design—and not just the quality of its collection. It tells the story of the evolution of Indian transport by creating atmospheres, complementing the vehicles with historical art (drawings, lithographs, prints depicting transport), video, sound, reimagined streetscape, and specially commissioned contemporary art.
It covers the entire gamut, from the pre-mechanized world of palanquins, carts and carriages, to trams, buses, vans, two-wheelers, rural jugaad transport, and maritime and aviation vehicles. Apart from contemporary art, there are works of folk art and others painting in the Gond idiom: all inspired by modern transport. Films on transportation are screened in a mini auditorium on this floor. The Collectible Indian Toys Space instantly whiffs you to childhood days through a nostalgic collection of toys made in wood, tin and die-cast toys.