A railway engine on India Gate but no rail tracks anywhere. The maroon locomotive, perched on a pedestal, has a silver-grey star painted on the front; the coupling rods, too, are the same shade. The black chimney is disproportionately large. With no leading wheels, the engine has four powered driving wheels on two axles, and two trailing wheels on one axle.
Installed outside the gates of the butterfly-shaped Baroda House on Copernicus Marg, the MTR No. 1 guards the headquarters of the Northern Railway. A tiny landscaped garden is built around it.
A notice board features a badly written biography. Made in 1910 by London-based Dick, Kerr & Co, the narrow-gauge engine was commissioned for the Karachi Port Trust. In 1917, it was acquired by the North-Western Railways for use at Marala Timber Railway in what is now the Pakistani side of Punjab. In 1922, the engine was transferred to the Dhilwan Creosoting Plant to what became Indian side of Punjab. It was renovated at the Northern Railway’s workshop in Amritsar in 1990. Elevated to the heritage status of “preserved pedestal”, it was finally brought to its current home and turned into a roadside curiosity.
Every weekday at 5pm, the retired locomotive turns its driving wheels through a motor and blows a horn, adding to the rush-hour noise. But you’ve probably never heard it.
WHERE: Copernicus Marg, India Gate Circle
BEST TIME: Evening, but the engine also chugs from 9.30 am to 11 am on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
NEAREST METRO STATION: Mandi House