My cultural shock: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

I’ve always loved museums and to be honest, I expected to find much more of them in a multifaceted city like Mumbai. However, I’ve discovered only two so far – the glorious Prince of Wales Museum (actually, now it’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, but I will never be able to pronounce that:) ), and  The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Popular touristic guides list some other museums in Mumbai, but they are actually either art galleries or vintage libraries, and it’s not the same.

I’ve been thinking what might be the reason behind such a limited number– surely there are a lot of places in Mumbai that could be turned into the most fascinating museums. But, as we’ve already discussed in one of our [url=http://www.indiapalette.com/forum]forum[/url] topics, India is a mix not only of cultures, but also of time periods – 21st century and Middle Ages walk side by side here, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon! Therefore, the whole country is like a gigantic open air museum, where people keep living their history.

One little example. There are lots of fancy cars in the parking space of our compound, and just behind the fence there is a small work place where you get your clothes ironed with a prehistoric coal iron – the kind of iron that our ancestors used many, many decades ago! And yes, you’ve got it right – the owners of the fancy cars happily visit this place:)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, just after taking my son to the zoo, I’ve been to the The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, and to say that I’m impressed is to say nothing. The museum is situated just near the entrance to the zoo – its elegant, inviting building is impossible to miss.

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But before going inside let’s walk around a bit. This stone elephant originates from the Elephants Island where it was carved from a single piece of basalt back in the 5th century. It ended up near the museum thanks to the Portuguese, who dropped the statue into the sea in a poor attempt to take it home, and to the British, who recovered it from the sea and transported to its present location. The elephant never forgets, says the proverb, and if it’s true, this stone fellow has a lot to remember:)

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A little further you can see a number of statues of people connected to Mumbai, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert being among them. By the way, the original name of the museum was the Victoria and Albert Museum, and only in 1975 it was renamed as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad.

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While I was looking at the statues, Ares enjoyed observing this cute little creature – there are lots of them running up and down and climbing the trees.

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Having bought the ticket I stepped inside the museum and instantly realized that I was going to have a great time.  Since I moved to India I’ve been constantly trying to block the ugly side of the reality and concentrate on the beautiful one. Whether you’ve been to India or not I’m sure you’re aware of its contrasts. Finally I’ve reached such a level of mastery in blocking the negative side that all the things I’d like to left unseen finally stopped troubling me. In this museum I could finally put my defenses aside – it was just a splendid visual treat. Whatever I rested my eyes on was elegant and beautiful. I walked from carved stones to intricate ivory, from exquisite bronzes to quaint woodwork, from ancient weaponry to fine ceramics and couldn’t have enough of all these things. Here are a few exhibits just to give you an idea.

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Ares, however, didn’t reveal any interest and fell asleep 🙂

There are also a lot of clay figures of people from different communities and model villages, schools, workshops.

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The interior was no less splendid.

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So, if you’re a museum lover like me, The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum is definitely recommended.

Useful information:

The official website of the museum – http://www.bdlmuseum.org/ Here you can learn about current and upcoming exhibitions, public lectures, free public and private tours.

Timings

10.00 am to 6.00 pm. Every day except Wednesday

Tickets

10 Rs for Indian nationals and 100 Rs for foreign guests (I paid 10 Rs as a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card holder)

Photography is allowed without flash. Video is prohibited.

Address:

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum,
Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Rani Baug),
91/A, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road Byculla East,
Mumbai 400027, Maharashtra, India

Phone Numbers:

+91 22 2373 1234
+91 22 6556 0394
+91 22 2371 5991
+91 22 6556 0394

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13 thoughts on “My cultural shock: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

  1. I find this article useful because there is some good ideas. Also it gives me a bit of history. I wanna visit India now, feel free to write things more like this.

  2. I stayed in Mumbai for 4 months but never thought about visiting a museum! The city has so much to offer that it seems like an open-air museum (as you mentioned). 🙂

  3. Born and bred in Byculla and never came across this museum. Could have come up later as I left Mumbai 40 years ago.
    Love those miniature clay figures.

    • Joe, the museum was open in 1872. According to Wiki, it’s the oldest Museum in Mumbai and the third oldest museum in India. If you happen to come to Byculla again, perhaps you’d like to have a look at its exhibits – I’m sure you won’t regret it!

  4. Looks like a very interesting museum, though not sure if it’s really my kind of thing. I prefer art galleries and museums that have exhibitions about contemporary issues. Nonetheless, an impressive collection 🙂

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