India’s first and only heritage transport museum near Manesar in Gurgaon will showcase several “James Bond cars”, both old and new, for a period of six months, sometime in 2017. All the cars have been featured in various James Bond films and include Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Audi, among others. These are being imported from the UK and will be exhibited in the museum. Talks are on between the museum authorities and the producers of the James Bond films in UK to sort out the logistics involved in importing these exotic cars.
The museum, the success story of the passion of Tarun Thakral, COO of Le Meridian Hotel, is celebrating its second anniversary this weekend.
The museum, built on three acres of land with ultra modern and contemporary architecture, was thrown open to the public on 7 December 2013. It has already seen about 150,000 visitors in the past two years, including school children, designers, car enthusiasts, researchers, and many foreign visitors, despite being located around 65 km from Delhi.
As a private museum of this scale, it prides on its collection of the heritage of the Indian transportation system, showcasing the development of transportation history under one roof. It is home to over “2,500 curated objects”, showcasing how wheels have developed through the years. It houses a diverse collection, ranging from pre-mechanised and heavy mechanised transportation to railways, aircraft, boats, along with rural and indigenous transport. The museum also displays a toy bird car from the Indus Valley Civilisation, a clear proof that wheels existed even then.
Asked about the museum, Thakral said that cars have always fascinated him. In 1994, when he was travelling in Rajasthan, he saw an abandoned car and the idea of preserving cars that could tell the history of evolution of transportation struck him. “I had always liked cars, and for a long time I had been collecting not only cars, but also other modes of transportation from both rural and urban areas, mostly through auctions. As the collection started growing, the idea of displaying this collection to the general public made me think of building a museum dedicated to transportation. With an assistance of about Rs 6 crore from Government of India, we started this venture in 2010 and opened it for the public in 2013,” Thakral said.
The museum has an Indian flag which had been carried to the moon and brought back in the Apollo Mission. It also houses a train saloon of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, a 1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner, a 1946 Mercury Sedan and piper aircraft, a Hindustan Motors Bedford bus of the 1950s, a model of Hindenburg, the 245m long German commercial airship which burst into flames while attempting to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on 6 May 1937, resulting in the famous Hindenburg disaster. It also showcases a palanquin, camel carts, bullock carts, rickshaw, Jugaad, etc., bringing to light indigenous and rural modes of transport in India. A petrol pump and a shopping street of the early 1950s has also been created inside the museum building to make visitors travel back in time.
“The idea of building a transport museum was my little way of contributing to society and give people a glimpse of a bygone era. Museums are generally perceived as boring and thus we decided to give it a contemporary look with modern arts and designs across the building. We also have a toy cars’ section to make it more interesting for children and people of all age groups. This anniversary, you would see a 20 feet tall Christmas tree made of used tyres. Preservation being one of the core values of this museum, this tree symbolises reusing waste materials and saving our environment in the long run,” Thakral said.
The two-day anniversary celebrations would see many interesting outdoor activities like bullock cart rides, kite flying, pottery, a real time painting of cars, among others. It would also see the launch of the “Street Jewellery” project where local artisans decorate trucks with fancy and illuminating stickers for better visibility at night. The showstopper of this celebration will be a 1952 Dodge Truck. The museum also plans to exhibit a range of famous Japanese Dinky cars sometime next year.