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Amit Chaudhuri in his book entitled ‘A Strange and Sublime Address’ notes that: “Calcutta is like a work of modern art that neither makes sense nor has utility, but exists for some esoteric aesthetic reason.”

Calcutta has often been termed as a dying city, but it is more of an emotion than a city. One of the integral parts of this age old city of joy is the tram, the oldest operating electric tram system in Asia, running since 1902. It is also the only tram network operating in India at present.

Amidst lot of difficulty, the tram has stood firmly tall witnessing the golden aeons of history. Series of transformations and renovations from horses to electricity has never deprived the Tram of its luxurious, easy going status. The tram has never seemed troublesome, meandering smoothly through the lush greens of Red Road and Maidan or the madding streets of Esplanade and Gariahat. The tram stands testimony to the city’s rich heritage. To this end, to preserve this inseparable element of the city, the Government of West Bengal inaugurated the Swaranika Tram Museum on September 29th, 2014.

This quaint museum is still unknown to a lot of natives. Located in the CTC ground at Esplanade, the Swaranika Tram Museum is set inside a tram itself. It is open to all from 1 to 8 pm every day, except Thursdays. One can purchase a ten rupee ticket and spend an hour inside the air-conditioned museum, which also has a small cafeteria at one end. The interior is beautifully done with informative articles, photographs and parts of old, heritage trams. The museum hosts miniature model trams that had been used in the earlier eras and one can almost travel in time and visualize a different Calcutta, while reading and seeing how the tram models had changed over the years. The museum also displays coins, badges and other parts of the tram such as wheel-bearings that have changed over the years. The age-old tram inside which the museum has been built is still capable of transportation and is regularly taken to the garage for maintenance.

Trams not only ascribe an old-world charm to the city, but also add a romantic element to it. Ever since its introduction, numerous poems and songs have been composed on the city of joy of which trams have been an integral part. The Swaranika tram Museum is an important initiative because in an age of renovation and demolition, heritage needs to be preserved. It is a wonderful place to visit on an afternoon, or even go for a date with a loved one to relive the nostalgia of this times gone bye in this age-old city.

Address: 6, Sido Kanhu Dahar, Maidan, Kolkata 700069.

Hours: Open 1pm-8pm every day, except Thursday.