Article by Tahir Imran Khan
For the people coming from southern parts of the country or from abroad, Islamabad is one of the main attractions in Pakistan. Offering multiple options to people from all walks of life and from various age groups, a visit to Golra Railway Station with its heritage museums is simply superb and splendid.
Golra, a small place in the vicinity of Islamabad is historically famous due to the residence of Peer Meher Ali Shah and his followers. The village is called as Golra Shareef as the word Shareef is added to respect for sacred places in the sub-continent.
Golra was a small but important railway station, being a junction near large and main station of Rawalpindi, located at an elevation of 1994 feet above seas level. With an attractive Victorian styled building, portraying the days of Raj, Golra station was constructed in 1882 and after serving for more than a century, the tiny station was selected for a unique railway museum in 2003.
It turned to a wonderful project and 3 out of 5 halls were selected to display the old and some antique items. The collection of various artifacts describes the history of sub-continent railway, spanning over 150 years, which was initiated by the British. The display also narrates the transformation and progress of railway, starting from steam locomotives to diesel engines and further to electric engines.
Golra Railway Station is one of the most picturesque railway stations with a row of huge and old Banyan trees along the platform and with a main building in the middle. The location and stylish old building of the Golra railway station got coverage by media and being continuously shown in several advertisements and tv dramas but still could not get adequate popularity to attract masses to visit this exclusive place.
The small museum houses a good collection of rifles, clocks, antique telephone sets, devices to use Morse code, crockery and cutlery and various other unique and interesting items. The main clock outside the station masters office is one of the master pieces and working perfectly. Similarly a weighing scale is another interesting item and nearby hand pump for water is an antique for this generation.
Another roofed yard displays the items of retiring rooms and its surprising to see that there were all facilities associated with travelling, which we dont find in our system in these days, unfortunately.
Most of the items belong to North Western Railway, which was changed to Pakistan Western Railway for our part of region, which is now changed to Pakistan Railways.
A steam locomotive is an antique piece for youth visitors however these steam powered engines used to haul the trains to various parts of the country. To keep this traditional steam powered train, Golra was selected for a Safari train, which use to operate from Rawalpindi to Golra and occasionally to Taxila, another place of great historical importance. This would have been a great experience but due to lack of advertisement, the project was terminated.
In addition, a complete train which was used to run on narrow gauge track is there. At present, the train track is wider and called as broad gauge; similarly the passenger buggy or compartment is wider than old size of train. The train
Includes a compartment for daily post to be distributed countrywide and a separate compartment for guard with an iron safe to keep cash and valuables.
A special saloon presented by the Maharaja of Jodhpur to his daughter as a wedding gift to enjoy her honeymoon trip has all comfortable and deluxe facilities with luxurious couches, easy chairs, attached bathroom with sleeping compartment and an equipped kitchenette to serve special meals and dishes during travelling.
Another attraction is the Saloon Car, which was in use of Lord Mountbatten. This is also worth mentioning that the staff at railway museum is quite professional and informative however a leaflet with the details of the museum maybe useful for visitors. Moreover, a series of souvenirs would attract visitors and may help generate funds to make it a self-sustained project.
Golra Railway Heritage Museum is a Must See place and needs more attention of railway, tourism and other relevant authorities to publicize the place in tourism attractions and maps. Its a lovely place with historical importance and must be included in trips of educational institutions and other visitors. The place could be a major tourism product, especially if few other attractions maybe added to attract general public like food stalls and kids areas etc.