“Smaranika” : Calcutta’s very own Tram Museum is a place preserved with many chapters of Calcutta’s glorious history!
We were about to board a tram from the Esplanade tram depot on a Friday evening when we saw something very out of place there! In the middle of the dusty, rugged and somewhat dark tram depot we found this lovely tram surrounded by lamps on a bed of lush green grass with a sign board that said, “Samaranika, Exhibition of Tram Memorabilia” !!
This tram museum has existed for more than a year and I fail to understand why I never heard of it before! I felt bad for myself for being so ignorant about my city. Nevertheless, we purchased tickets and entered a world of nostalgia and vintage charm.
The entry tickets to this tram museum, priced at INR 5 are designed like tram tickets your conductor would usually issue you, hence, the tram theme begins from the word go.
At the entrance of the museum compound is a life size statue of a tram conductor in uniform. On the inside, one compartment is a cafeteria where you can sip coffee, tea, soft drinks and munch on some chips and packaged snacks. The other compartment is a display of old artifacts, model trams, equipment, gears, tickets, passes and even conductors’ hats and everything else you need to know about one of Calcutta City’s oldest and most charming mode of transport.
The tram, now converted into a part museum, part cafeteria was built in the year 1938. This particular tram is a wooden bodied streamlined car. It was brought from Mumbai to Calcutta and is pliable even today.
One can spend a maximum time of thirty minutes inside. Initially there was no time limit but we were told that because people would sit and spend hours inside, just chatting over a cup of coffee that the administration had to levy these restrictions.
I got to know of a number of facts about CTC from the museum and the attendant inside, Mr. Jalaluddin Sheikh was a very warm and welcoming person who not only gave us plenty of trivia about trams but also made us piping hot cup of coffee to drink as we watched a documentary about movies featuring trams on the TV inside! He as well us were disappointed over the fact that trams are slowly fading away from the roads of Calcutta to make way for the newer metro networks.
A look inside Calcutta’s Tram Museum, Smaranika.
It was a very over whelming feeling for us to witness a bygone era, well preserved in the museum, and if your reading this, I would request to visit this place at least once. There is so much history there about Calcutta’s most precious mode of transport.
Picture Courtesy, Akshay Kapoor.