India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It is no surprise then, that India also boasts several hundred museums, each representing our country’s historic glory. Indian museums contain a vast repertoire of artefacts, sculptures, manuscripts, armoury and jewellery chronicling the subcontinent’s history of over 5,000 years.
We also have some unique museums like the ones on trains. To top all eccentricities, there is also a museum on toilets! Get ready, then for we have chosen 7 of India’s best museums that will leave you in awe.
Indian Museum, Kolkata
Founded in 1814, the Indian Museum is one of the largest multi-purpose museums in the Asia-Pacific region. It was founded as a part of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and its establishment started the museum movement in India. There is a lot to see in this vast museum but amongst the most interesting parts of it would be the Gandhara Gallery which showcases sculptures that tell the story of Buddha along with his pictures. The gallery also showcases Boddhisattva and Maitreya of Gandhara School of Art which flourished in the 2nd century and depict the influence of Greco-Roman culture which were excavated from regions of Afghanistan. Numismatists would be delighted to know that there is an entire section dating back to 5th-century BC. There are an estimated 50,000 coins from across the Indian subcontinent on display. Also, while you devour the artefacts, do not forget to check out the building itself in all its colonial splendour. Rahul Pandit
Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
Formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, this resplendent Indo-Saracenic building impresses you even before you enter it. Considered a Grade I Heritage Building, its beautiful façade stands out as one of the most iconic in Mumbai. But it is not just the grand exteriors that make up its appeal. The museum houses over 70,000 precious artefacts, paintings, sculptures, porcelain and ivory from not just India but across the world. Besides, the museum has dedicated sections for numismatics and natural history. What is also remarkable is that the building has also won a prestigious award for its efforts to be eco-friendly. Moreover, the fact that the museum is celebrating its centenary this year is all the more reason to visit this jewel in Mumbai.
National Rail Museum, New Delhi
India has a vast railway system, and for decades many have depended on rail transport to move from one part of the country to the other. To have a museum on railways, therefore, feels fitting given the important role railways have played in shaping our country. the National Rail Museum in Delhi is home to more than a hundred real-life exhibits of the Indian Railways. Both static working, these exhibits give visitors a glimpse into Indian railways’ history. There are also luxury coaches of erstwhile royals on display. Additionally, there is an abundance of pictures, books, manuals and other literature around railways. Kids can also enjoy a toy-train ride. The real attraction of the museum, however, is the Fairy Queen – 1895 built locomotive, considered to be one of the best-preserved of her age.
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Albert Hall Museum, Jaipur
Albert Hall Museum is as grand as any other palace in Jaipur. Established in 1881, the museum was intended to introduce visitors to the rich local crafts of the region. It later extended into a full-fledged museum. Today, it contains a diverse collection of artefacts including jewellery, carpets, ivory, paintings, and numerous coins from various periods of Indian history. An Egyptian mummy, though, remains a prime highlight of this place. There are also events like puppet shows organized to keep you entertained. If you plan to visit the Albert Hall, make sure you stay till late evening because when the sun sets, the museum comes alive with splendid lights amplifying its architectural beauty.
Partition Museum, Amritsar
The partition of India remains one of the defining events in Indian history. However, there was not a memorial or a museum to document the stories of millions of displaced people. Until 2016, when Partition Museum was established in Amritsar. It happens to be the first museum on partition anywhere in the world. There is artwork portraying the partition, refugee artefacts, and archival material like stamps. There are people who talk about their experiences which you can listen to on the museum’s website. The Partition Museum really promises to take the visitors deeper into the horrific aftermath of the partition.
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi
This rather weird museum tells the history of a significant aspect of our lives – hygiene and sanitation. Divided chronologically, the museum tells about the ingenious drainage systems during the Harrapan period, the bathrooms of the Indian kings, and the revolution in sanitation devices in modern times. It also houses a rare collection of poems dedicated to toilets! While all of this might seem a little mad, the museum serves a larger purpose of making people aware of sanitation and cleanliness. It is visited by numerous students, planners, government officials, engineers, scientists and doctors to understand how to best apply the practices of hygiene.
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is the oldest museum in Mumbai. Established in 1872, the museum chronicles the history of the city’s cultural heritage through the art, and craftsmanship of various communities of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. The permanent collection includes miniature clay models, dioramas, maps, and rare books that document the city’s history across two centuries. Additionally, the museum has collaborated with other cultural institutions from across the world to showcase the works of contemporary artists. The building, like many other colonial buildings in Mumbai, is an artwork in itself. Do not miss the intricate details both inside and out.
Feature Image Credits – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum