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Indian Railways History – Interesting Story about Okhil Chandra Sen letter

Indian Railways has a very interesting story on how the toilets came into existence in 1909. If not for this man, not sure when would it have seen light of the day.

Introducing toilets in Indian trains is an interesting tale of Indian railway history. The story is so amusing that Mr. English Grammar went on leave for a few moments.

Imagine if your “belly is too much swelling,” will you bother about “shockings.” 😀

Indian railway history

Indian railway history is more than 170 years old – the first passenger train in India became operational in 1853. For more than 50 years of operations of the Indian Railways, there were no toilets in trains. 

On July 2, 1909, Okhil Chandra Sen, an Indian railway passenger, wrote a letter to Sahibganj Divisional office West Bengal in 1909 requesting to set up toilets on Indian Railways.

Okhil Chandra Sen’s letter to railway authorities was written in anguish, which only Okhil Babu could have felt. 

Though the letter certainly lacked basic English grammar, it became an important document in the history of Indian railways. This letter has been hand-painted, and it is currently on display in the Rail Museum in New Delhi.

Dear Sir,

I am arrive by passenger train at Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance the guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lota (water pot) in one hand and dhoti (clothes) in the next. When I am fall over and expose all my shockings to man and woman on platform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station.

This too much bad, if passengers go to make dung, the damn guard not wait train five minutes for him? I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake otherwise I am making big report to papers.

Yours faithfull servant
Okhil Chandra Sen


After this letter from an aggrieved Okhil Chandra Sen, the railway authorities had no other option but to introduce toilets in all lower-class carriages in trains running more than 50 miles at that time.

Somebody famous has said that words are not important when you recognize intentions. During the time, India was still under British rule; hence, most likely, an Englishman would have read it, and he would have definitely recognized Okhil Babu’s intention.

Next time, if you don’t find a toilet somewhere, you can try this letter. 😀

Okhil Chandra Sen Letter to Indian Railways
Illustration of the Letter


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