PAYANA, a sanctuary for cars
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PAYANA, a sanctuary for cars

April 7, 2024

By S. Kenneth Shishir

[Pics. by M.N. Lakshminarayana Yadav]

The allure of vintage cars dates back to the early days of the automobile industry. Enthusiasts as far back as the 1920s recognised the value and significance of preserving antique vehicles for future generations.

The golden era of car collecting in the 1950s and 1960s witnessed a surge in the popularity of vintage vehicles. During this period, they celebrated iconic automobiles from renowned manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz, Morris, Ford, Chevrolet and Cadillac, among others. Classic designs, powerful engines and luxurious interiors captivated the hearts of enthusiasts, fuelling a growing fascination with vintage cars.

Today, most vintage cars can be found in museums. One such museum, showcasing vintage cars from 1925 to the 2008 model, is Payana, the Vintage Car Museum, situated on the outskirts of Mysuru.

The innovatively designed museum showcases a collection of automobiles curated over the last five decades. Situated on the Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway, the museum features a facade resembling the silhouette of a car tyre. More than just metal, paint and chrome, this museum evokes a sense of nostalgia and admiration, transporting visitors back to a time when automobiles were crafted with care and precision.

The front view of the Vintage Car Museum resembling a tyre.

Brainchild of Dr. Veerendra Heggade

 While travelling from Mysuru, one cannot miss seeing the museum on the right side of the Highway. This museum is the brainchild of Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, a philanthropist and the Dharmadhikari of Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada district.

Although the formal inauguration of the museum is pending, Dr. Veerendra Heggade conducted homa and other rituals earlier this month, and the museum opened its doors to visitors on April 1, 2024. On the inaugural day, admission was free, attracting over 900 tourists.

The 1949 model of Daimler DE 36 of the United Kingdom used by the erstwhile Mysore King Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. This car has an 8-cylinder inline engine, 5,460 CC and 4-speed Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission with Preselector.
The 1947 model of Studebaker Champion of the USA which was driven by Nobel Laureate Physicist Sir C.V. Raman and donated to the Museum by his son. This car has a 6-cylinder inline engine, 2,789 CC with 3-speed manual transmission.

Nestled amidst 23 acres of land, the museum houses 69 cars, ranging from vintage to the latest models, each coming to life with a simple turn of a key. Among the notable exhibits are cars once driven by the erstwhile Mysuru king Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, Sir C.V. Raman, late film actor Dr. Vishnuvardhan and even the car driven by Dr. Veerendra Heggade during his student days.

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The museum boasts spacious galleries that invite visitors to delve into the narratives behind each vintage masterpiece, aiming to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and engineering brilliance of bygone eras.

Among the notable vintage cars showcased are the Daimler De 36 of 1949, Standard Herald of 1962, Fiat 501 of 1925, Fiat 521 of 1928, Ford Perfect E93A of 1946, Morris Eight Series E of 1948, Buck Series 50 Super Eight of 1947, Citroen Traction Avant 11CV of 1947, Austin A40 Somerset of 1952, Hindustan Landmaster of 1956, Chevrolet Bel Air of 1955, Chevrolet Impala, Studebaker Champion of 1947, Gaz-69 of 1953, Mercedes Benz of 1926, SteyrPuchHaflinger of 1962, Willys Truck 475 of 1958, Morris 15/6 of 1934, Toyota Corolla 1.6 GL of 1990, and Mercedes Benz of 2008, among others. 

The 1962 model of England make Standard Herald used by Dr. Veerendra Heggade during his student days. This car has a Standard SC 4-Cylinder, 948 CC with 4-speed manual transmission.
Vintage beauties displayed at the Museum.

Diverse tapestry of automotive history

Each vehicle on display offers a fascinating glimpse into the diverse tapestry of automotive history. A significant aspect of the museum is its restoration unit, where vintage cars undergo meticulous restoration from scrap to pristine condition. It comprises mechanical and technical sections for engine restoration, a tinkering section to bring vintage cars back to their original form, and a painting unit where restored vehicles regain their original colours.

The museum premises also feature a restaurant, an open-air theatre and restroom facilities for men, women and individuals with disabilities. Plans are underway to establish a dedicated kids’ area shortly.

As visitors embark on a journey through the museum, they are not only treated to an immersive experience of the timeless allure of vintage cars but also gain insight into the evolution of automotive technology. Educational resources and interactive exhibits offer a deeper understanding of the intricacies of automotive engineering and its societal impact.

1934 model Morris Fifteen 6.

Addition to Mysuru’s tourism landscape

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Each meticulously selected and preserved car represents more than just a piece of history; it tells a story of innovation, craftsmanship and the relentless pursuit of beauty. The museum marks a significant addition to Mysuru’s tourism landscape, blending nostalgia with innovation to enhance the city’s allure.

It provides a delightful outing for families and individuals, offering a unique blend of heritage and entertainment. Emerging as a hub of heritage and knowledge, the museum celebrates the timeless machines of a bygone era, worthy of cherishing.

Entry fee to Museum: Rs. 50 for adults and children above 12 years.

Timings: Open from 9 am to 8 pm daily.

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