Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay

Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay
If u prefer.....

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
abbreviated as CSMVS
2284 4519

Located at the Kala Ghoda stretch, its one of the easiest landmarks to locate in Bombay.

Open from 10:15 am to 6pm daily, except Monday.
Entry Rs.10 for Indians, Rs.450/- for foreign nationals (which includes an audio tour in English, French, Japanese & one more language, I think its German) If Indian's want to use the audio tour, it will cost them Rs.150/- more. Camera permits are Rs.30/- (you can't use a flash within the premises) and video camera permit is Rs.200/-
Entry for school going students is free on Tuesdays. Bags can't be taken inside, but can be left at the cloakroom just inside the main gate.

Mumbai's major museum was built to commemorate King George V's first visit to India in 1905 (when he was still Prince of Wales) though it did not open until 1923.

Designed by George Wittett in grand Indo Saracenic style, it is set in an ornamental garden and boasts a galleried central hall topped by a huge dome, said to have been inspired by the Golgumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka.

Suprisingly, it has been counted among 20 best museums in the world. It houses miniature paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries. The remains of the Harappan civilisation and Mohenjodaro are also exhibited here. 30,000 ancient artifacts including Chinese Jade Pieces are housed here.

The lush beautiful grounds were closed to public during the 1993 Bombay Bomb Blasts. Unfortunately, nobody remembered to re-open them after that original decree which is a shame especially since there are some beautiful chinese pieces placed around the garden which cannot be viewed since they are now cordoned off. Even the stately statue of the Prince of Wales has to be content with displaying his back to the public.

We weren't very excited by the museum. The Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad is a 100 times more interesting. They have started trying to improve the settings and display cases, but they have a very long way to go. The value of the collection cannot be estimated, so priceless is it. But its display leaves a lot desired. For eg in the Ratan Tata memorial room. There are some large paintings by unknown artists which occupy pride of place, while some smaller sized Constables have been lumped together with other unknowns and barely merit a glance by most.

The Chinese collection is sizeable and the only redeeming feature of the museum. We were unlucky on our trip since the European Painting section was under renovation. But we got lucky that a special exhibition "The Dream of an Inhabitant of Mogul" was on. This is a special exhibition produced by the Cultural Section of the Embassy of France in India. More on this, in my next post.

We who are normally slow browsers, were able to cover the entire museum in 2 hours, this was while taking pictures through a slow process. So you won't really need to keep a day aside for the museum. You can just make it a part of your Kala Ghoda-museum-India Gate itinerary for a day.

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