Baroda Maharajah's specially designed royal railway coach for his comfortable travel - colonial days

Baroda Maharajah's luxury coach, Baroda, India

Baroda Maharajah's luxury coach, Baroda,

Baroda Maharajah's luxury coach, Baroda,

That the Indian Maharajahs of the princely states in the past led an envious and opulent life that  people can ever think of is true. We have heard about them keeping a  fleet of expensive cars, in particular, Rolls Royce It is said that the RR company of England had a flourishing growth mainly because of Indian rulers. Some rulers had their RR customized  to match their taste and needs  like hunting expedition, etc. Like wise, they owned lots of  expensive gold and gem-crusted jewelry and dazzling diamonds  gem stones etc. Some went a bit farther and had  customized royal railway coaches with private saloon for long distance  travel on the railroad.

Ruler Gaekwad II, Baroda, India.

Among the past Indian rulers Maharajah Khaderao Gaekwad, the then ruler  of the Princely state of Baroda (now Vadodara city)  was a well-known connoisseur and collector of  jewelry and gemstones. Equally he was known for his services to the people and their welfare. Being an enterprising ruler,  he  introduced the first  narrow gauge line of India  in 1862 that  became the longest narrow gauge network of India till date.  After his unexpected death in 1870, his successor Sayajirao Gaekwar III, further expanded the narrow gauge line network across Baroda and also introduced  many additional  reforms and civic amenities  in the state during  his reign from 1875-1939.

The Gaekwad's  private saloon in his royal railway coach was the talk of the town  then. The broad gauge  customized coach built in 1886 by Parel Workshops of the Bombay Baroda & Central India (BB&CI)   had two sections  one for his personal use and the other for his accompanying servants. they can be accessed by a well designed and decorated passage. The entrance to the coach is from the attached balcony on one side with a provision for  manual brakes for the coach. The balcony is good enough for a person to operate the brakes.  

Spaciously designed and well decorated interior to commensurate with the ruler's royal status, much attention is given to  the ceiling, wood work and brass fittings. Included in his saloon are nicely decorated bedroom, visitor's room, living room with a toilet etc.  Travelling in the the saloon is a real experience, no jolting and no jumping. The saloon has six wheels and 3 axels with a central spring system; the saloon  negotiates the curve easily. The outer wheels are provided with vacuum as well as hand brakes.The other unique features are flapped roof extending on both sides to avoid glare and  provide filtered  ventilation. In the past it was a common feature in the VIP coaches. The other unusual feature to assure smooth ride of the saloon on the track is  oiling points were filled with lubricants at regular interval  so that they would trickle down to the wheels and to the connecting bars of the car and reduce the friction. Indeed an innovative design for the personal comfort of the rich Maharajah. 

 As for the other section of the coach, it is meant for the servants accompanying the ruler  and is provided with a self-contained kitchen,,  separate toilet, resting place, etc. It is not a well decorated section , but far better than the coaches of common people on the trains. 

To park his royal coaches  at the station while not travelling by train, the ruler had a railway shed specially built at the Baroda (now Vadodara) station close to the broad gauge track. The royal  coach  would be attached to the train by which the Maharajah would travel.  It is a heritage building and is being poorly maintained by the authorities. Efforts are afoot to get the site conserved and restored to old grandeur. 

For 3D view of the interior of the Maharajah's saloon, please refer to the Indian National Railway Museum, New Delhi  (link is given below). by erstwhile ruler of Baroda state – the Maha Sayajirao Gaekwad III