Remember , my last story on why I love Mumbai, Read here . I didn't know I will be doing a sequel to that story. Thanks to Jet Airways and me not sleeping through the 2hours. I was on a flight to Bangalore last week and read the inflight magazine where a particular article caught my eye. Featuring Mumbai 's oldest museum, looking splendid in a victorian style architecture- I couldn't believe I never knew about it. 9 years of being in this city and this thing was hidden from my gaze! I felt excited there is a hidden gem , yet to be seen and decided to visit it as soon as the weekend begun!
So yesterday, if you followed me on Instastories, I walked into the premises at 11.30 am. Its funny but the entrance is through the Byculla Zoo, due to some restoration work. It took us ten mins to figure the entrance! On my way, I met a crazy bunch of monkeys, a blue bull , a deer, an ostrich and 2 mighty happy elephants (Surprise Surprise) I knew the day had begun well. The museum opens at 10am however there is a guided tour in English at 11.30 am free of cost. We were greeted by a smiling Vanessa who is an anthropology grad and is working with the museum .
Who built this museum?
This museum was established in 1855, as a repository for all the Indian art pieces that were sent all over the world to promote trade- an idea of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort. Most pieces in this museum are replicas that were sent to the Great Exhibition in Paris in 1855. Formerly known as the Victoria and Albert museum, this museum was opened to public in 1872 , restored to its glory between 2003-2008 and renamed as Dr. Bhau Daji Lad museum in 1975 as he was one of the patrons responsible for its existence. He urged the citizens to donate for this museum and managed a sum of 1,16,141 to build this along with a contribution of 1,00,000 from the government.
Why should you visit the museum?
- If you want to discover everything MUMBAI- this is the place to be. Infact, every person who comes to Mumbai for the first time must consider a visit here . The reason- ? This is a Mumbai "city" museum which was built in 1872 to showcase the cultural elements of Mumbai as well as the country and the origins of Mumbai from the 18th century. Besides displaying the indian artefacts , this museum houses the oldest maps of mumbai as prepared by the Portuguese , french to conquer the city. The city was names " BOMBAY" - meaning good bay by the Portuguese and was called Heptanasia (7 islands) before that. The name "Mumbai" comes from the goddess Mumba-devi whose sculpture is also displayed here .
-You are a major Art-Lover: This museum was built to stun the citizens and has the most beautiful victorian interiors in India. Besides the building being a sight to appreciate, it houses the oldest Indian artefacts that were sent all over the world for the purpose of trade. Divided into 2 sections- One for industrial arts and other for decorative arts- Most of the industrial art artefacts are replicas of the pieces that were sent to Paris in 1855 exhibition of the British colonies. The idea behind these exhibitions was to promote trade by showcase of the work of their colonies and India had a bountiful to offer. Prince Albert was the pioneer of these exhibitions and the artefacts by Indian artisans were produced to suit the European shapes and forms - for example english tea-pots were made to suit the British style. The exhibits underwent changes since its establishment and the most unique collection is clay-models of how different sects and religion men and women dressed in Mumbai. I've never seen such an attempt anywhere else before. Its truly outstanding. I can go on and on about the collection, but then I want you to see it yourself and absorb the art.
How to get there?
You can take a taxi from wherever you are- this is the most convenient and please ask for Rani baug. If you take the train, you will need to take a taxi and the same goes for the bus.
Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Rani Baug),
91/A, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road,
Byculla East Mumbai 400027 India
10:00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.