|Created by||National Institute of Design|
|Role||Mascot of Indian Railways|
|Unveiled on||16 April 2002|
Bholu or Bholu the guard elephant is the mascot of Indian Railways. The mascot, a cartoon of an elephant holding a signal lamp with green light in one hand, was initially designed for Indian Railways' 150th year commemoration events and was unveiled on 16 April 2002 in Bangalore. Later in 2003, Indian Railways decided to permanently retain it as the official mascot. The icon was placed on the reverse of a coin.
Railways were first introduced in India on 16 April 1853 with a line from Bombay to Thane. To commemorate the 150th year of the event, Indian Railways planned a series of events in 2002–03 which included launching a mascot. Bholu was designed by the National Institute of Design in consultation with the Railway ministry and was unveiled on 16 April 2002 in Bangalore. On that day, Bholu flagged off the Karnataka Express at 6.25 pm from platform number 1 of the Bangalore city station. According to the Indian Government (Railway Board)'s Manual for Public Relations Department (2007), Bholu was designated for official use effective 15 April 2002. Later, on 24 March 2003, they decided to retain Bholu as the official mascot of Indian Railways.
Bholu is presented as a train guard and he holds a signal lamp with green light in one hand. The green light is the symbol of movement which assures trains and passengers to go ahead with safety and without fear.
He is also the most universally accepted symbol of train running and interaction with passengers. He not only denotes stability but also represents the workforce of the Railways. He is with the train passengers at all times, day and night, and, as train in-charge, is responsible for the safety of a running train and the well-being of passengers. The green light in his hand symbolises movement, the intention to go ahead with safety and positivism.
The mascot became very popular in India. When asked why they chose an elephant as their mascot and of their opinion on Bholu, Indian Railway officials said that Bholu is friendly and helpful. An Indian Government official release in 2003 described Bholu as an "ethical, responsible, sincere and cheerful icon". The same report stated that other than denoting stability it represents the Indian Railway's workforce as well. Also in 2003 the Indian Government released a two-(₹)rupee coin which carried the impression of Bholu on its reverse side.
- "Bholu the Railways mascot unveiled". The Times of India. 16 April 2002. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Commemorative currency". Indian Government. 1 September 2003. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Coins to mark 150 years of Railways". Tribune India. 13 July 2003. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Manual for Public Relations Department (2007)" (pdf). Government of India, Ministry of Railways (Railway Board). pp. 30–31. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Bholu to stay with Railways". The Hindu. 24 April 2003. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Kunnappally, Joseph. "2 Rupees 150 Years of Indian Railways". Retrieved 11 May 2013.