Imagine an airplane, a railway boogie and then cars, trucks, enamel boards, taxis, toys, pedal cars, fuel stations and more all under one roof ; a place that holds the most amusing pieces of transportation, whether vehicles themselves or their paraphernalia. We are talking about the Heritage Transport Museum located at NH-8 near Manesar. This museum is unlike others, right from the way it is designed and curated. The fact that it holds a huge variety of vintage cars all waxed and shiny indoors is in itself a wonder. Add to that the way the cars, two-wheelers, accessories, carts etc. are put on display gives the whole experience a natural touch, as though the vehicles were parked by their owners a long time ago and left standing in their place ever since. Walking about this multi-storied display, standing on a floor above one can still see the vehicles down below as the bare-bone insides of the museum allow you to do makes you feel like you’re in a see through parking lot of a mall, if only it were so back in the 30s and 40s.
Taking a trip down memory lane doesn’t come easy. It is anyone’s guess how such a mammoth undertaking of 90,000 square feet is maintained, additions are made and special exhibitions are set up. Yet the displays are setup in a way that they can be moved, removed and more can be added as per need at any time and this is made possible by the handy work of architect Jyithi Rath and curator Vikas Harish.
Tarun Thakral, the founder has been an avid collector of all things transport from over 20 years now. Earlier he had his collection on display under a shed and a train carriage that was made into a home with a bedroom, kitchen and washroom. Later the collection grew and needed a space bigger and more robust. Thus came about the Heritage Transport Museum, with just the stock pieces present at first but soon to be joined by new entrants from other contributors, the Government of India. The museum was set up at the location to keep it away from the city and make it more of a getaway than just a short visit, taking three years and Rs 15 crores in the making, it is a landmark in nostalgia driven institutes.
Each section of the museum is dedicated to a category, from pre-modern to modern, you will find a rural section which hosts hawdas, bullock carts, palanquins, phatphats and boats to another side with gleaming Buicks, Chevys and Fords. The cars here are not in mint condition but meant to give a more authentic and used look. While the paint job on all is impeccable, there are personalized embellishments, ornamentation and spares like hub caps etc. that are after-market. So if there is a taxi on display it will have the original decals and cheap plastic trinkets and stickers on it. They even have a heavy vehicle section showing the earliest busses including the hippie friendly VW van, trams and trucks. Fashioned like a bus depot, one of the walls has a deconstructed truck in all its colourful glory with intricate decorations neatly laid out and put up on the wall.
There is also a part dedicated to toys from yesteryears. Most enjoyed by kids, it actually brings about a wave of nostalgia in the grownups as they are the ones who’ve actually seen or played with them. Wooden, cast iron and tin models of famous cars make you want to pick them up and take them for a spin as you’d do as kid, alas you can’t. Pedal cars, rocking horses, pedi-cycles along with collectors models of planes, trucks tanks all kept in their original state is a sight of wonder for all. And everything here has been handcrafted by Indian toymakers alone.
The entire museum is dotted by age-old lithographs, rare albumen pictures and paintings all showing the progress of transportation in India, from royal carriages to the contemporary fiats. They have philately, diaries, photo albums, and memorabilia all circling around transportation spread across all sections that shifts focus from just the displays to the finer things that are often overlooked when seeing a gorgeous car in front of you. Further breaking the monotony are contemporary art pieces that are interspersed across the displays and surprising as it maybe, all of them have a hint of travel and transport in them. The museum encourages artists to create and put their work on display here and is also on the lookout for special art work throughout the country which might fit the theme. Currently works by artists like G.R., Iranna, Pooja Iranna, Ranbir Kaleka, Hanif Kureshi, T.V. Santhosh are already in place and they are updated/refreshed ever so often with information of the next exhibition popping up on their official site http://www.heritagetransportmuseum.org/ and facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/heritagetransportmuseum/. The museum remains open from 10 AM to 7 PM and an entry fee of Rs. 300 is all you need. There is a café within the premises to get your grub.
Contact: +91- 9871667018
Address– Bilaspur – Taoru Road (Major District Road 132)
Off NH 8 (Bilaspur Chowk), Taoru
Gurgaon (Haryana) 122105