Trams, do you know what they are? Have you seen them? If you’ve been to Kolkata then
The only city in India in which you’d still find Trams, in working condition and active is the one and only “The city of Joy” i.e. KOLKATA or as some may know it as Calcutta. Kolkata is quite famous for a lot of things like the delicious and mouthwatering Rosogullas, the variety of street food, the Howrah bridge, the colonial structures, for the love of literature, also the sweetest language in the world and as the first city of Asia to have had trams one and a half centuries ago.
And if you are traveling to Kolkata then a Tram ride has to be one of the top things to do on your list (Can be after eating puchkas too, that’s up to you!).Isn’t it? And if it is not, then you’ve been planning the whole trip wrong. If you have still not realized or don’t know it already then I’ll give you a little background about the history of trams, charm of it and it’s relation with Kolkata.
History of the Trams
Kolkata tram system is the oldest running electric tram system in Asia since its beginnings in 1902. It was in 1873 when the first attempt to run a 3.9 km tram service between Sealdah and the Armenian Ghat commenced. It folded up in the same year, due to lack of patrons. It would be seven long years before the service resumed, in 1880. It took a further two decades for the electric tram to emerge in 1902 and continue to this day. The first ever electric tram car in Asia was rolled out on 27th March from Esplanade to Kidderpore, and on 14th June, from Esplanade to Kalighat.
Did you know that the first vehicle to cross over the newly constructed Howrah Bridge in 1946 was the tram? This was the peak of the popularity of trams.
Now with other modes of public transport hitting the city streets in both developed and developing countries, the dominance of Kolkata Tram began waning by the mid of the 1950s. India, too, caught the anti-tram sentiment which spread out to metro cities from Kanpur. Kanpur was the first Indian city to have closed the tram service in 1933. Chennai (then Madras), Delhi, and Mumbai (then Bombay) bade goodbye to tram in 1955, 1962 and 1964 respectively.
Over time several tram routes in Kolkata were closed for a variety of reasons. Today, many do not know that the Howrah Bridge, the primary link between the cities – Kolkata and Howrah – over the Hooghly River (another name of the Ganges), used to have tramlines. Only 22 years ago, tram tracks were removed to pave the road for buses, cars and trucks on the Howrah Bridge, in 1993.
What would this city be, without its tramway?
What would Kolkata’s streets look like, without trams? Can’t imagine it right? I can’t, and I guess nobody can!
If you ever take a walk on the roads of Kolkata you’ll find history book chapters just peeping through the trees all around you. Every corner has a story to tell if you just have the time and once there you’d wish you had more time. The Kolkata tram is one of the few historic entities that has witnessed the city’s uphill journey from the rebellious Calcutta to the peaceful Kolkata as we know today
Currently, 125 trams are operational for daily service.
Each tram had two coaches which were divided into 2 separate classes – 1st Class and 2nd Class. Since 15th August, 2013 trams have been made class-less, and the 2nd class has been removed.
Smaranika – Tram Museum
Inaugurated in 2014, the Kolkata Tram Museum, Smaranika, is a refurbished, vintage 1938 tram, whose interiors have been renovated to serve the purpose of a museum that showcases rare and interesting tram memorabilia, ranging from the early days of the mode of transportation to the present.
The collection includes rare photos of old Calcutta streets, replicas of the earliest trams like horse-drawn tram cars, omnibus, flat wagon trams, watering trams, there are old archives, old tram tickets and passes, badges, caps, and apparel worn by the tram staff, and ancient equipment like controllers and more. Other exhibits include old tram passes and coupons, coin-exchanger machine, uniforms and caps used by the conductors and various tram parts like a red lamp, governor switch, pull-off springs and more.
One would also find displays of newspaper cuttings and pamphlets of various festivals around the world celebrating tram journeys and posters glorifying trams of Kolkata in literature.
The entry tickets to the museum are also designed as tram tickets, keeping with the museum’s theme.
It is operational from 13:00 to 20:00 hr. Entry fee is ₹ 10 and it will allow you to stay inside for an hour. It has a very tiny coffee shop inside. The first bogey is the café and the second one is the museum. Coffee is priced at ₹ 10 and you get a good quantity. It is Govt run, so, the prices are extremely cheap. You’ll get chips and biscuits apart from tea and coffee.It is air-conditioned too. There’s also option to buy tram postcards at ₹ 5 each or a set of 12 at ₹ 50.
Trams have always been the darlings of celluloid. From the Satyajit Ray classic Mahanagar to the new age movies like Kahaani and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, and even some Telugu movies,the tram has been a part of the silver screen, enchanting viewers who get a glimpse of an inseparable part of the city’s heritage.
Like it? Pin it.
Did you like this post or have any feedback? Please let me know in the comments section below! Or, if you have any further questions, feel free to ask. Be sure to subscribe to my mailing list by popping your email in the form below and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin’!