Rajasthan's Railway Stations Turn Into Art Galleries

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Railway stations across Rajasthan have undergone a thematic facelift, like this one in Sawai Madhopur.

Jaipur:  As you alight from your train at the Sawai Madhopur railway station, a tiger roars at you from the walls. You may be forgiven for thinking that you are already at your destination, the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, for which the station acts as a gateway. While the reserve is still some distance away, everything at this tiny station screams that you have arrived.

The 5,000-feet of walls at the Sawai Madhopur station are decorated with all things Ranthambore. The flora and fauna, bears and crocodiles, leopards and of course the tigers. Part of the Rajasthan government's initiative to showcase the state's rich cultural history through local art work displayed on the walls of railway stations, the Sawai Madhopur project recently won a national award.

While Sawai Madhopur may be the most recognized, it is not the only railway station in Rajasthan to get such a makeover. As many as seven railway stations across the state have been decorated with local artwork over the past one year. Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Ajmer have all undergone a thematic facelift.

The Rajasthan government has also utilised the initiative to revive dying art forms like banni thanni, a signature of the Kishangarh school of miniatures, or pichwai paintings practiced in Udaipur; using them to decorate the otherwise drab walls of railway stations in the state.

The new-look stations have won praise from visiting tourists also.

"It is very beautiful, I hope the rest of the city is able to match this," said Eduardo, a tourist visiting from Ajmer from Spain.

While promotion of local art and culture is one aspect of the initiative, officials are clear that spreading the message of cleanliness remains their priority.

"This is part of the Swachch Bharat campaign. A hundred artists can't keep the stations clean if the 1,000 passengers using it don't help us keep it clean," said Tarun Jain, and officer with the South Western Railways.

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