During travels to Mumbai, I often bring Meera to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), a few minutes walk from our house. Meera enjoys chasing butterflies in the gardens and running around the spacious interiors. (See also Mumbai’s new Terminal T2 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.)
She is invariably awed by the stone sculptures of cows, horses or lions, and loves the Natural History wing. She gets to see animals (stuffed) she only has seen in pictures. She loves the ducks (badak), parrots (popat), turtles (her favorite) and the huge whale hanging from the ceiling. Wild animals scare her. Safely tucked between my legs, she points and whispers, bhalu ( bears), rhinoson (rhinoceros), tigherrr, lion and cheetah. Love taking her there.
See Meera visiting:
- Jijamata Zoo, Mumbai named after Shivaji’s mother. Love the opening statue of Shivaji and his mother there.
- Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, MA
Some of my favorites include the many sculptures placed in verandahs, where they can be enjoyed in natural light. But, my blood curdles at the destruction wrought on beautiful pieces by the barbarian Christian and Muslim occupiers. See, what was a beautiful Vishnu as Seshashayani, reclining on the serpent.
Here it is in the verandah.
The stone sculptures galleries have more evidence of christian and muslim atrocities (see gallery below). Heh, this frieze of Vishnu reclining on the serpent survived the barbarians.
Outside, Meera finds a tiny pebble in the plantings,
which she chucks with much gusto.
There are so many more beautiful masterpieces in this museum, including the exquisite Krishna art, the Maratha and Mughal weapons, the Indus civilization exhibit and too many others to recount. I hope I have tempted you to visit this gem of our heritage, right in the heart of Mumbai. If not for the art, it’s a great place to escape from the madness of the city for a few hours. See this beautiful outdoor exhibit on the grounds, The Earth is an Egg.
Times and fees.
Really nice seeing Meera enjoy the garden I restored. Wish more of it could be open to people though……Have you seen how it was earlier?
Awesome to hear that you were involved in the restoration. Yes, wish more of it could be open … . I think it is a beautiful oasis in the midst of South Mumbai.
I grew up around there and a former Director (Mr Agrawala) was a family friend. So we would hang out at the Directors house on the side and in the gardens.
Can you tell me more about your work there? I also noticed the new ticket booth and else is up and running.
Thank you! You have a really long association with the Museum….. Am the Landscape Consultant to Abha Lambah who is the Architect for the restoration. Glad to tell you the project won a UNESCO Asia Pacific Honourable mention in 2010.
The new ticket centre and museum shop the…. Visitor’s Centre also includes the children’s creativity centre.
It has been both a joy and a challenge working on the museum project….a sense of fulfillment tempered by the constant irritants…lack of water…lack of funding well thats part of the challenge which makes the final reward sweeter I guess!
Thank you for sharing so many details about the Museum and your valuable contributions to that. When I was there about two weeks ago, I noticed the visitors center was all done (the old ticket shack was gone), but did not get a chance to see more.
Next time I am there, I will make it a point to study the gardens and post pics about those.
I have pics of an “Egg-like” exhibit on the Museum grounds, which I am hoping to post soon.
Thank you for your contribution to this forum
Sorry, forgot to mention that the Visitor’s Centre is Rahul Mehrotra’s work…have been involved in the landscaping of both.
Arun – I visited this museum in the late 80’s with my mother and was awed by the sheer number of exhibits.
While the invaders did their own amount of destruction to our sculptures and monuments, look at what our Indians are doing now. They scribble their names all over historical monuments with scant regard for the value and aesthetics for the place.
Thank you for your comment and I have to agree 100% with you.
Destruction by invaders and colonizers is a given, but it is shameful when our own Indians vandalize and generally do NOT take care of our heritage.
I am going to be preparing a post on this: On this visit to an ASI site near Lonavala, there was so much trash from lunches that the entire hill-sde was littered with food plates and such. Took lots of pics – will post that soon.
And yes to the scribbling of graffiti on precious stone monuments.
My blood boils. aarrrghhh!
I had a lovely day at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum on first trip to Mumbai. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you and hope you had an enjoyable visit there.
It certainly does not compare to some of the western museums, but a wonderful experience by Mumbai standards. and a good collection.