Yesterday, May 18, was International Museum Day. Take a tour of six unusual museums across India with Anuradha Goyal.
Museums are not very popular with the tourists in India. Still, there are some unique museums across the country that do not just educate but entertain as well.
Sulabh Toilets Museum, Delhi:
Located in the suburbs of Dwarka in New Delhi, this simple museum tells you the story of the toilets in the world. Yes, toilets have a history and a future too. Beginning with the toilets of the Indus Valley Civilisation, this museum takes you through many eras to show how toilets have evolved over time. It has some quirky toilets like the one of a king which was built into his throne and the mobile manual toilets of medieval Europe. There is a demo of futuristic toilets, which do a health-check based on your excreta. There are also the disposable biodegradable toilets for the outdoors and models of low-cost toilets that Sulabh is building for rural areas and poor neighbourhoods.
Sudha Car Museum, Hyderabad:
This is probably the most innovative and wackiest museum in the country with its unusual collection of cars. These are custom-built cars in weird shapes and sizes; nothing looks like a car as we know it, but they are all working cars. Imagine a double bed, a football, a cricket bat, a camera, a laptop and a condom as working cars. A small plaque on each car tells when it was built, how much time it took to make it and the maximum speed it can reach. A video shows these cars being driven. Imagine these cars plying on our roads! On the creativity index, this museum would rate the highest and the number of records they have in record books is testimony to that.
INS Kurusura Submarine Museum, Visakhapatnam:
How about actually going inside a submarine to get the underwater feel? Head to Ramakrishna Beach in Visakhapatnam to find this beautiful fish-shaped black submarine right on the shore. A board outside the museum says how submarines work, the many types and the vital statistics of this particular one. Scattered around it are different parts of the machine. A guided tour inside the submarine lets you live the life of a submariner for sometime. You see the torpedoes, the smallest possible bunker beds, toilets, kitchen and communication equipment. It is like being inside a complex machine, surrounded by wires and control knobs.
RBI Monetary Museum, Mumbai:
Located in Fort area, the financial capital of the country, is the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Museum that takes you through the journey of coins and currency. Starting with the cowries that were initially used as currency the exhibits take you through the evolution of coins through the ages, their signature marks, techniques and raw material used. You will observe that the quality of coins tells you about the affluence levels of the times. Trivia about minting and mintmarks with tips on identifying fake currency are also there. It is one of the better designed and documented museums, but a very security-conscious one. You are not allowed to carry anything inside.
Uruswati Museum, Gurgaon:
We all grow up on folk tales and love stories and once older wish for small rituals from our childhood. This place preserves them all. Uruswati Museum in Shikhopur, on the outskirts of Gurgaon, is the only museum dedicated to folklore. It has terracotta tablets telling you stories and paintings that portray love and longing. There are well-known stories of Sohni Mahiwal, Habba Khatun and there are the not-so-well-known like Momal and Bhupinder of Jaisalmer. Depictions of folk temples dedicated to local deities and forms of decorative art of rural India are on display. The museum, located in a rural area with frequent power cuts, has sunlight streaming inside to guide you through dark interiors.
Pukhauti Muktangan, Raipur:
I almost instantly fell in love with this very indigenous name that literally means free and open courtyard of our ancestors. This 200-acre newly developed culture park brings the past and present art forms of Chhattisgarh in one place. With colourful wall paintings, murals by award-winning artists, iron gates that tell stories, and models of popular destinations across the State makes it complete. I loved the gardens designed with models of tribal jewellery as art installations. This is an excellent example of building on what the previous generations have passed on to us — combining native ethos with modern design sensibilities.