Thursday, February 13, 2014

Of lights & curiosities

Apart from the well-known Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), Mumbai also has a much smaller musem, quaint but interesting. 

Now, known as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad City Museum, it was formerly the Victoria and Albert Museum and is located in the Jijamata Udyan premises (erstwhile Victoria Gardens) in Byculla. So much for our country's colonial past! :)

Much has been written about this 130+ years old museum by better bloggers than me, for it's an irresistible piece of history of this intriguing, ever changing and evolving city. 

Rather than repeat all that's been written about this beautiful building and all that it contains, I am going to post a few photos of some of the bits that I found interesting, in and around the museum. 

The beautifully restored interiors of the museum. You can catch a glimpse of the statue of Prince Albert that rests on the ground floor. It's huge!

The tiles on the grand staircase that leads up to the top floor. They are supposed to be the original Minton tiles imported all the way from England when the museum was built. 

A view of the decorated ceiling from the first floor

The gorgeous chandelier suspended from the ceiling close to the staircase

The turnstile that still allows entry into the main hall of the museum from the foyer outside
The plate on the turnstile that vouches for its British origins

A lamp post on a huge pedestal was lying in a small patch of garden on one side of the museum building. Giving it company were a few statues, some headless (more of that later). They all seemed to have been moved from various parts of the city, too interesting to be junked (thankfully) but past their usefulness. 

The lamp had a plaque on it that said "Erected A.D. 1867 in honour of The Right Honourable Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, K.C.S.I., The Governor of Bombay by the Esplanade Committee." There is a mention of A.F. Bellasis, A.T. Crawford and (I think) K Muncharam as President and Members (of the committee). No other details of the lamp or its history were available.

The heavily ornamented street lamp. Unlikely to be electric as Bombay hadn't seen electricity until 1882
The sides of the lamp's pedestal had this bowl and lion's head. Wonder if the mechanics of a fountain were in-built into the pedestal.

One side had a metal ladder reaching up to the top. Presumably, to operate the lamp and occasionally clean it too.

Headless marble statues of various colonial figures. Plaques mentioned Lord Cornwallis (standing) and Lord Wellesley (seated) as two of them.

I haven't included any photographs of the artefacts and dioramas that are inside the museum as they were overwhelmingly large in number. Since the museum was set up to showcase India's (under colonial rule) arts, crafts and industry it has numerours artefacts from the subcontinent - carved objects, metal work, inlay work. It also includes models of various scenes - in villages, of tradesmen, of various communities and their culture etc. 

Among them are images with descriptions of some of the Gods and Goddesses from Hinduism. Considering it's almost Valentine's Day, I think it's appropriate to end this post with the image and description of Kamdev (Cupid's equivalent) as seen in the museum. :)

The label says, "Kamdeva, the God of love, is the son of Brahma. He holds a bow made of sugarcane with humming bees and arrows with flower-tipped shafts of desire. It is said that he roams the earth during spring and fires his arrows at sages, young girls and married women."



  1. Photography inside the museum is allowed now?
    Lovely captures!

  2. Thank you, Deepak. Yes, it's allowed, the usual - extra charges for taking a camera inside.