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BEST Transport Museum in Anik Depot in Mumbai

Monday, July 20, 2015

BEST Transport Museum is located at Anik Depot near Pratiksha Nagar Bus Depot In Mumbai. It can be easily accessed from Sion, Kurla, Chembur and Wadala. 

I had read about the BEST Transport Museum in Mumbai Mirror. History excites me. BEST transport is considered one of the lifeline's of Mumbai City I set out with Manohar for company to  visit it along with Railway Heritage Museum in Churchgate. 

As decided we met at Anik Depot. At the entry point, we were asked the purpose of our visit. To which we informed that we had come to see the museum. We were then made to write our details on a small book manned by a guard and then provided with instructions to the museum. We were informed that the museum is under CCTV and hence no photography is allowed in the premises. 

The museum is located in the building on the third floor which is near the entrance of Anik Depot. We climbed the metal staircase to reach the third floor where the museum is.

The museum is not maintained at all. The artifacts in the museum premises are covered with dust, which maybe coming in from the windows, which are kept open so that air circulates in its premises. Lack of funds maybe the reason why it is in this state. It was reported in the newspapers a couple of days ago that BEST bus services are not in very good state and it this continues they will have to terminate the BEST bus services. 

Mr. Chaulker who can be contacted on 9833662461 is the curator of the Museum, he has been there for the last 14 years. He informed us that the museum is around 16 years old. It was started in 1981 in Kurla Bus Depot, later it was moved here due to lack of space. Mr Chaulker provided us with a lot of information on the artifacts in the museum premises. 7th August is celebrated as BEST day. 

The Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM from Wednesday to Sunday. 1PM to 2 PM being lunch time. As it is a one man show, please do not visit at lunch time. It is also closed on public holidays. There is no entry fee. 

In 1905 Bombay Electric Supply and Tramway Limited Co. (BEST) was formed by tow British Gentlemen. I do not recollect their names, but their photos are present in the Museum, in 1947 Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Limited CO. (BEST) was formed. It's head office was located at Electric House. The signboard located outside it is on display at the museum.

The first thing we notice is the miniature 3D models of the various bus depots in Mumbai CIty, It gives a aerial view of how they looked when they were initally constructed. Apart from there is also a houses the model of  the Malad Bus Depot. It had it been constructed the way it is shown in the model, Mumbai would have got its first on ground and underground bus depot. It was to accomodate more buses to be parked in its premises. But due to some issues, it remained just a 3D model and now a regular bus depot stands there.

BEST used to run a ferry boat service between Madh and Manori, it was later given to BMC as the cost of operation and maintainence was high due to which they started incurring loses, later on BMC, handed it over to a private operator. It had a conductor like they have on the bus. Photos and a 3D model is put for display here.  

BEST dept had come with the idea of running underground trains in 1960, but due to lack of funding both from Dept and Govt they had to abort the plan. The model of how the same would be constructed is also kept for display. Now we have the over ground metro and mono rail in Mumbai. 

On the walls are hung the photos of men who have held top postions in BEST history since its inception. 

It has miniature 3D buses (single and double decker) trams (single and double decker) used for transportation purposes.  It also showcases back and white photos of the various buses and trams used for the transportation of people over the decades. The second class seats along with the first class seats used in the Tram are placed here.

The price of the tickets ranged from 1 anna to 9 anna. Yes you read it right. Due to inflation, cost of living and maintainence of BEST, the prices of tickets have gone that high. 

It also showcases a collection of tickets that were printed then, initally tickets were printed in UK later they started printing them in Mumbai. Some of the tickets being as big a the size of a Rs.10 note. There was this one ticket, that had my attention, it featured the bus route (map) on the back of it. Hence the size of it was large. The daily pass concept was started a couple of decades ago. But the photo ID came in later as people started misusing it to their benefit. 

The various coins used for transactional purposes are up for display along with the fake ones. Imagine counterfeit currency too was in use then.  

It also features the radiators of the various buses that have served the BEST transportation system. It features the logos of bus manufacturing companies, whose buses were used in the transportation business. The chassis of the Daimler bus is located in it for display, the wall of the third floor was broken down and a crane was used to lift it, to  be placed here. The bus has got hand gears, just like a Fiat Padmini Car, two pedals for break and clutch on left and acclerator on the right. It also has a handle below the radiator, which needed to be turned so that it starts the bus. 

Speakers used to make annoucements (Bhopu in Hindi) are also here for dislay.

Miniature glazed paper models of buses and engines created by one of the employees of BEST are also placed here for viewing.

The various models of electric meters, which used to be places outside the houses for reading the electricity consumption are also here for display. Typewriter, bill printing machines, calculators, telephones and intercom systems, ticket validating machines, grandfather clocks, though none of them are working are here for display. 

A fan, whose motor is placed within a carved wooden body and the blades of which are made of wood is also located right above the place where Mr Chaulker is seated, The fan still operates at a particular speed, as the regulator is not functioning, it still provided us with cool breeze. Table fans used over the years, can also be located here, they are in working condiiton. 

A Share Certificate of Bombay Tramway Co. is also here for display. He also informed us about the history behind the same. 

A huge black bell escavated from Wadala Bus Depot, along with street lamp posts, road dividers are here for display. As per Mr Chaulker, man used to carry a ladder, matchsticks and oil so that he could lit the street lamps every evening. 

The rails on which the trams used to run are also in display.  

It houses the uniforms of the bus driver, conductor, starter (A person who gives instructions at the bus depot), ticket examiner, tram driver and how they have been altered over the decades.

The museum also showcases a beautiful collection of the photos taken over decades of BEST Trams and buses which plyed over the Mumbai Roads.

Mr. Chaulker gave us a thirty minute guided tour of the museum, he provided us with some valuable lessons in the history of BEST. 

I hope my blog post has motivated you to go visit it, no photos taken, as this place is full of surprises. But you need to go visit it to explore it, we then proceeded to see the Heritage Museum at Churchgate. 

Other lesser known Museums around Mumbai are Western Railway Heritage Gallery and Bhau Daji Lad Sangrahalaya.


माधुरी नाईक said...

Nice information about best museium

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