For a bustling metropolis like Mumbai, there are way too few museums in the city. I’ve always felt so. However, as time passed by and the city grew into me, I came to understand that the subtle fusion of old and new lies within the streets, houses and even people of Mumbai, and under such circumstances the guardians of history, as someone aptly called museums and galleries, become rather irrelevant. Even so, the city is home to some interesting museums, and I take real joy in visiting them either alone or with my husband and kids. When we have guests, we also make sure to take them to at least one of these places, and it’s always a big success. If you’re planning a trip to the city of dreams, here are three Mumbai museums I wouldn’t recommend to miss.
Don’t go to a museum with a destination. Museums are wormholes to other worlds. They are ecstasy machines. – Jerry Saltz
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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Formely known as the Prince of Wales Museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is the largest and most significant museum of Mumbai. It opened its doors to the city dwellers and guests in the year 1922, and has been a bustling cultural hub ever since. The imposing edifice of the museum is something to rest your eyes upon, and I always make sure to savour its architectural delights before going inside. Here you’ll see the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture at its best, with a magnificent central dome in the middle of a cluster of smaller domes, elegant arches and arch-shaped windows, mighty pillars and intricate stonework.
The museums comprises more than 50 thousands exhibits, divided between the art, archaeology and natural history sections. Real delights of the art section lie within its exhibitions of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, Mughal and Rajasthani paintings, ancient manuscripts, textile and ivory. I often find myself lost among the European paitings, donated to the museum by Sir Ratan Tata. There is also a beautiful collection of arms and armour, which is really something to say for a pacifistic person like me. Here you’ll find finely adorned armour of the Mughal emperor Akbar dating back to the 16th century and many other interesting artefacts.
In the Archaeological section there are lots of precious sculptures created over the time span of 17 centuries in different regions of present day India. Many believe that it’s the realm of sculpture where the Indian art has been thriving in its full power, and I’m inclined to think so too. Apart from countless statues, there are also ancient artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization.
The Natural History section gives one a vivid idea of rich and diverse wildlife in India, though, to be honest, all those stuffed mammals, reptiles and birds are simply not my cup of tea. But my kids find them interesting. My younger daughter Alexandra keeps begging me to visit again and see the cross section of a cat with all the organs on display 🙂
Address of the Museum : 159-161 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400023, Maharashtra, India.
Timing: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (Monday to Sunday)
Tickets: Rs. 70 (Adults) Rs. 35 (Students) Rs. 20 (Kids)
Suggested read: European Oil Paintings of Prince of Wales Museum (Mumbai)
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
Originally called the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is the oldest museum in Mumbai. It’s conveniently located near the Byculla zoo (known as Victoria gardens in pre-independence era), so both the sites can be clubbed up as a day out, especially if you go with your little ones. The museum was established in the middle of the 19th century and the idea behind setting it up was to celebrate the city in vast diversity of its traditions and merging cultures. Unlike the spectacular building of the Prince of Wales Museum, the exterior of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is rather simple and plain. But wait until you step inside! The charming combination of gold and turquoise green, the symmetric rows of elegant columns, the marble sculptures and fantastic ceiling design will take your breath away! I would go as far as to say it’s the most captivating interior in the whole city.
The museum comprises a huge collection of clay models that allow one to see what the dwellers of Mumbai had been up to from the 19th century till early 20th century. Elaborate dioramas showcase different communities and professions, farms and villages, indoor and outdoor games, schools and workshops. Among the exhibits of the museum you can also see old photographs of Mumbai, pottery, brass ware, weaponry and ivory, water colors and woodwork.
Address: 91 A, Rani Baug, Veermata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marg, Byculla East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400027
Timing: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (Monday to Sunday)
Website: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
You may also like: My cultural shock: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
CST Heritage Gallery & Railway Museum
If you marvel at the splendid building of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which I consider the most beautiful railway station in the world, you’ll love their heritage museum. Formerly known as the Victoria Teminus, or simply VT, the iconic building stands where the history of the Indian railway originally began. Visiting this museum is the only way to explore the magnificent structure from within. From its beautiful central dome to the Star Chamber, elegant spiral staircase, stained glass windows, fine jaali work, lovely sculptures and majestic doors, the grandeur of the CST’s interior is a sight to behold. Besides this, in the galleries of this museum you’ll find model trains, old timetables and tickets, brass bells and commemorate postage stamps. The history of the Indian Railways is well documented here in the forms of carefully selected exhibits.
Recommended for you: Heritage Museum in Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai)
Timings: 3 pm to 5 pm Monday to Friday.
Tickets: Rs 200 for adults and Rs 100 for students
What other bloggers have to say about Mumbai museums:
Prince of Wales Museum – The Best Museum Mumbai has to Offer
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