Prince of Wales museum to be renamed

MUMBAI, NOV. 15. Yet another institution of the British Raj era has fallen victim to local sentiments. The venerable Prince of Wales Museum, set up in 1905, will now have its name changed to Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum.

This is the first name-change by the Democratic Front Government. In the pre-Shiv Sena-BJP era, the successive Congress dispensations had `Indianised' the British period names of a zoo, several parks, roads, bylanes, squares and even cross-roads. The two saffron parties later renamed Bombay as Mumbai.

One of the prominent monuments left untouched so far is the grand Gateway of India, Mumbai's most easily recognised feature built between 1911 and 1924 to commemorate the visit of King Goerge V, the first British monarch to step on Indian soil.

Though the Prince of Wales Museum will have a new name, tradition guarantees that like many other places, the building will continue to be referred to as `museum'.

The museum is located inside a vast compound in congested, Victorian Mumbai. It is built in an Indo-Sarscenic design, departing from the architecture of the times. During World War I, it was used as a hospital.

The Victoria Terminus, the country's gigantic station from where the first steam train rolled out over 125 years ago, is today the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. But it is not so much CST as VT to locals even today. Apparently, old habits die hard.

The Santacruz domestic and the Sahar International Airports are also named after Shivaji. The airports with identical names are located several kilometres apart, often creating confusion.

The Maharashtra Government today said the promise to rename the museum was made in 1993 in the legislature. It did not explain the reason for the delay. In 1993, Maharashtra had a Congress Government. From 1995 to 1999, it was a Shiv Sena-BJP Government.