A steaming cup of tea in your hand, Tagore’s work on the walls and the ambience oozing with heritage- No you’re not in Coffee House, you’re in Smaranika, our very own Tram Museum.
Introduced in the year 1873, initially a horse driven carriage and then evolving into steam and then finally to electric− the tram has seen innumerable changes to itself and its form. And being one of the few cities in the world that still has trams running on its street, how can Kolkata which is known to preserve its history in a time capsule not have a place, rather a museum to showcase this wonder of a mode of transportation.
Well, it might be a pleasant surprise but we do have one and it’s called Smaranika, situated at the CTC compound in Esplanade. Smaranika essentially is a 1938 Tram which has been refurbished at the Nonapukur workshop, retaining its actual exterior from its golden days and only renovating its interiors, giving it a full wooden finish to serve the purpose of a museum.
The tram, which is the museum itself, houses memorabilia right from its inception to present day− Conductors’ caps, uniforms and the coin exchanger machines and many such artefacts of the trade are all on display in one of the two compartments of the tram.
The other side of the tram houses wooden a bench and table along with walls filled with quotes, old Calcutta pictures and literature from famous figures of Bengal, essentially Rabindra Nath Tagore.
One can be inside the tram museum for a maximum period of 30 minutes for which a meagre entry fee of Rs.5 is charged.
You can sit and sip tea/coffee and have snacks from the tiny makeshift cafeteria of sorts, and take in the history of trams oozing out of every inch of the place.
Smaranika, the tram museum, is one of those rare places in the city which bring to light how multifaceted the peculiarities of this city are and also, our love for the cities rich cultural past.