In the '80s,
Bhau decided to build a miniature city, which could
be portable and taken to different places as a mobile
exhibit. This city, a result of 40 years of hard work
and creativity, was first displayed at the Gokhale
Hall in 1982 and was a huge success. The layout was
then exhibited at Bombay also, but Bhau soon realized
that moving the exhibit was an expensive proposition.
The paperwork and permissions required were also prohibitive.
He also lost out on valuable time from his profession.
Thus the idea of a permanent Museum of Miniature
Railways was conceived. The permanency of the museum
offered scope to improve on the layout and experiment
with detailing, landscaping, etc. The hall for the
museum was constructed in 1991 but work on the museum
was started in 1994 and after 4 more years of work,
the museum was opened to the public on April 1, 1998.
The entire imaginary city is controlled from a panel
from which arises a network of over 1000 wires (a
length of 5 kms). There are 65 signals, points, fences,
lampposts, flyovers, etc. which have been manufactured
by hand using chemical etching techniques. The entire
layout can be operated manually or can be computer
Unfortunately, Bhau did not live
to see the tremendous appreciation his efforts were
receiving from across the country. On October 11,
1998, Bhau left us for his heavenly abode.
What you see in the premises of the Joshi's Museum
of Miniature Railways, is to me a legacy, a dream
fructified by my father. For me to carry forward.
What you see as a miniature township in the museum,
to me is the magical world of my childhood.
I feel privileged to be born in a family, which believed
in giving me the inputs for exploring my likes and
From the first Diwali that I can remember, we used
to set up a layout in one room of our house. For the
duration of Diwali this room was given over to railways.
We worked late into the night after I had finished
my school and homework. Never did he say that I was
too young to handle any of his precious collection.
He trusted me completely, and in turn I ensured that
I would not let him down. Those were enchanted days
during which we planned, drew, assembled, argued,
and spent some wonderful hours together. This was
the time I bonded with my father and saw him more
as a friend.
All my school holidays were devoted to working in
our factory. I never had time to be “bored”
in the holidays, since I used to work in the factory
from 8 to 5 learning all the skills I would require
later on. Then during my college days we made the
first “traveling” layout and displayed
it at Gokhale Hall, Pune. Later we took it to Bombay
and again to Dastur High School, Pune. The response
and appreciation we received was mind blowing.
After I finished my Doctorate, I
joined my father full time at the factory. This was
in 1990. We constructed the hall for the Museum in
1991. Once I was handling all the routine production,
and management at the factory, the decision to start
work on a permanent museum was taken. In 1994, my
father then started to work half day on the museum,
since now he could now afford to spend time away from
the factory. We also developed the layout further
by bringing in digital controls for the trains. My
education in Electronics and Computers also helped
in planning the wiring for these controls.
The Museum was formally opened in 1 April 1998. During
the first few months, my father narrated the commentary
and I handled the controls.
It was a big shock to all of us when in October 1998,
my father died after a short illness, only 6 months
after the museum was formally opened for visitors.
After my father's demise, I have made several changes
in the infrastructure, like air conditioning, a waiting
area, and most importantly a Hobby Shop. In 2003 I
added a layout of an airport in 1:500 scale.
In 2002, I traveled to Germany to attend an exhibition
on toys and railway modeling. I was once again amazed
to see the extent to which the Western world has developed
this hobby and the seriousness with which it is pursued.
While there, I decided that railway modeling must
become an option for Indian children to have as a
hobby. This is one hobby that transcends all barriers
like age, sex, educational/vocational preferences,
etc. There are about 400 companies manufacturing only
toy trains and accessories in Germany alone and every
1 out of 3 families have a set of trains at home!
This is a hobby that involves nearly all branches
of engineering and science as well as diverse branches
like photography, economics, management etc. I believe
that if it were not for being so keenly involved in
the pursuit of railway modeling since early childhood,
I would not have succeeded in my academics, winning
the first prize in college in the Physics exhibition,
for 5 consecutive years.
I hope one day I am able to create a Mini-India, something
akin to the miniature cities in Europe. A few acres
of land dedicated for enjoying India you traverse
through those acres of land and feel you have traveled
I sincerely request all parents to initiate their
children into this educative and fun hobby of railway
modeling. Give them the opportunity to explore their
talents. You will not only have a happy child but
a friend for a lifetime.
We are soon starting the Railway Hobby Club. For more
information you can talk to me at the Museum.
Dr. Ravi Joshi