Planning your leisure schedule with your family? Our list of some of India’s most interesting museums is just the thing for you. (Photo courtesy: MuseumsofIndia.org)
A museum is called an ajayab ghar in Hindi, meaning a house of curiosities, and that’s exactly what it offers. Even if classroom history and geography can pique a child’s interest, a walk through a well-curated museum with antiquities that show and tell you about history is infinitely more engaging. With more than 1000 museums across the country—with collections ranging from mundane objects like cycles to military artefacts—we bring you a list of must-visit museums, timed to days of note and significance, just to add that extra bit of interest. Here are 12 museums to visit over the next 12 months across India.
1. January: Patang Kite Museum (Ahmedabad)
Come January, and the skies of Gujarat are full of colourful kites in myriad shapes and sizes. A city known for the art of kite making and the International Kite Festival in January, why not begin your year at Patang—The Kite Museum in Ahmedabad. The museum is the first of its kind in India and the second in the world (other one being in Osaka, Japan). Located inside the iconic Sankar Kendra building built by the French architect Le Corbusier, the museum houses around 125 rare and uniquely designed kites that showcase the history of kite making in Gujarat. The collection was donated by Bhanubhai Shah—a kite lover who has been collecting kites since he was 21. He opened the museum in 1986.
Address: Ground floor of Sanskar Kendra, Near Sardar Patel Bridge, Behind NID, Paldi- 380006
Hours: 10:30 am–6:00 pm (Mondays closed)
2. February: Shrikrishna Science Centre (Patna)
Contrary to popular belief, museums are not just a place for relics and antiquities, they also chart a path for technological advancements and give an indication of where modern civilisation is headed. The Shrikrishna Science Centre in Patna is one such example. It houses several galleries of participatory exhibits on science that are not only informative but also fun. The highlights include a digital planetarium, 3D theatre, Science on a Sphere (SOS) Theatre, and a science park. However, it won’t be a museum if one doesn’t find some antiquities, so be sure to check out India's first Hindi typewriter while there.
Address: West Gandhi Maidan, Raja Ji Salai, Lodipur, Patna
Hours: 10:00 am–06:30 pm (Open on all days)
3. March: Theatre Museum, Natya Shodh Sansthan (Kolkata) for World Theatre Day
India has a long tradition of theatre in varied forms, and the Natya Shodh Sansthan (NSS) in Kolkata is arguably the largest storehouse of archival materials on the subject. The museum attempts to document a detailed history of Indian theatre in different languages. Some highlights include a set model of the Nautanki stage, manuscripts and rare books, gramophone records and older forms of musical instruments, such as the Rudra Veena.
Address: EE 8, Sector 2, Salt Lake (Bidhan Nagar), Kolkata
Hours: 10:00 am–05:00 pm (Closed on Sundays)
4. April: Click Art Museum (Bangalore) for International Art Day
Visual arts and museum traditionally make for an intriguing but passive viewing space, but break this notion on this International Art Day in April at the Click Art Museum, Bangalore. It’s India’s first 3D interactive 'trick art' museum, which was conceived and developed by the renowned Indian artist A.P. Shreethar. Trick Art—also referred to as 'Optical art' or '3D art'—consists of two-dimensional pictures that create deception of a third element. All the images are finished with skilful perspectives for taking photographs. Some of the striking images that are displayed include a crocodile eating your head, Charlie Chaplin poking your stomach, Mona Lisa pouring you a glass of water, surfing in the ocean, steps leading to a skull, a python ready to sting you, and Batman and Joker spraying water on your face. If you’re a social media junkie then this is THE space for you!
Address: Third floor, Virginia Mall, Varthur Rd, Palm Meadows, Whitefield, Bangalore
Hours: 10:30 am–10:30 pm (Open on all days)
5. May: Indian Museum (Kolkata) for World Museum Day
Did you know that the Indian Museum is the earliest and the largest multipurpose museum, not only in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Asia-Pacific region? Celebrate International Museums Day—on May 18—here, with a range of archaeological objects, an art section focusing on Mughal and Bengal paintings, and even a section on zoology and botany. While you’re here, don’t miss out the Egyptian Mummy on display.
Address: 27, Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, Colootola, Dharmatala - 700016
Hours: 10:00 am–05:00 pm (Closed on Mondays)
6. June: Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum (Pune) for World Bicycle Day
Take a nostalgic walk through the Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum in Pune that houses over 150 vintage bicycles and other two-wheeled curios. It is the country’s only privately owned bicycle museum. Run by Vikram Pendse, the three-storeyed museum has been designed to look like a cycling track. Aside from vintage and current cycles, the collection also includes accessories and spares, such as tires, seats, bells, gears, air pumps, lamps, and so on. But that’s not all—a collector of everything antique, Pendse has also displayed vintage household items like typewriters, alcohol bottles, keychains, radio sets, lighters, sewing machines, kitchenware, etc. The highlight of the museum, though, is the BSA Paratrooper collapsible cycle that was used during army operations in the Second World War.
Address: 22, Harsh Bunglow, Lane Number 6, Sahawas Society, Karve Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra
Hours: 11:00 am–07:00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
7. July: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Mumbai)
Google Mumbai and one of the first images to appear on the results page is the imposing facade of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus). A World Heritage Site, the iconic railway station also houses a small Railway Heritage Museum, which displays the history of Indian Railways, especially the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR). VT, as it is still called, was built to be the headquarters of the GIPR. One can explore a range of antiques such as crockery, telephones, brass bells, an old railway engine, advertisements, tickets and flyers here. It also houses a clock from the colonial times in perfect working condition.
Address: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Area, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Hours: 03:00 pm–05:00 pm (Closed on Saturdays and Sundays)
8. August: INA War Museum (Moirang)
This Independence Day, explore the most important site in the Indian freedom movement—the headquarters of Azad Hind Fauj or Indain National Army founded by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The Indian National Army (INA) War Museum, Moirang (Manipur) is the only official museum dedicated to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the rise of the INA. The museum showcases relics from World War II, such as bullets, bombshells, soldiers' helmets, etc. It also displays over a hundred photos of Netaji and the INA, maps, insignia, currency notes, Netaji’s letters, INA badges and Japanese amulets. The INA Memorial, of which the museum is a part, was also the location where the tricolour flag was hoisted for the second time on Indian soil on April 14, 1944. There is a photograph of Bose from the momentous speech where he proclaimed: ‘You give me blood and I will give you freedom’.
Address: INA War Museum, Moirangthem Leikai, Moirang, Manipur
Hours: 10:00 am–04:00 pm (Closed on Mondays)
9. September: National Rail Museum (Delhi)
Railways has been a primary source of travel in India for about two centuries now. Discover the fabulous collection of India’s rail heritage at the National Rail Museum in Delhi. The museum has a wide range of collection from historical records to locomotive models to original locomotive from the past century. The museum also houses vintage locomotives and coaches from India’s princely states like the Prince of Wales Saloon coach, the Maharaja of Mysore’s Saloon coach, etc. While you are at the museum don’t forget to take a ride on the only existing Steam monorail in the world—the Patiala State Monorail Tramway.
Address: Market Rd, Block F, Chanakyapuri, Delhi
Hours: 09:30 am–05:30 pm (Closed on Mondays)
10. October: Pierre Jeanneret House (Chandigarh) for World Architecture Day
On October 5, visit the house of Pierre Jeanneret, the chief architect of Chandigarh, that has been converted into a museum, and is a reflection of Jeanneret’s creative genius. Jeanneret was a keen observer of the local lifestyle and hence this two-storeyed residence has ample outdoor space and expansive broad balconies with latticed brick screens, keeping in mind the predilection of Indian families for open spaces. Visit the very first building to be built in Chandigarh to soak in some architectural inspiration.
Address: House No - 57, Sector - 5, Opposite Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh
Hours: 10:00 am–05:00 pm (Closed on Mondays)
11. November: Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum (Jaipur)
November celebrates the foundation of Jaipur city by the king Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. What better way to celebrate it than visiting the City Palace—the residence of the royal family of Jaipur, and the stunning museum it houses. The palace museum has been divided into five galleries—Textile Gallery, Sarvatobhadra, Sabha Niwas, Sileh Khana, and the Painting and Photography Gallery—which give you a glimpse of how the royal family lived in the past.
Address: The Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, The City Palace
Hours: 09:30 am–05:00 pm (Open on all days)
12. December: Southern Naval Command Maritime Museum (Kochi) for Indian Navy Day
On December 4, we celebrate Indian Navy Day, and why not show our respect for the naval forces by diving into their history and evolution by visiting the Southern Naval Command Maritime Museum in Kochi. The museum has a collection of weapons used by the navy, models of ships, and 3D models depicting the history of seaways and harbours in Kerala. They also house Indian Navy uniforms, badges, ranks, etc. Must-see objects include the anchor and life-buoy from the Portuguese ship Afonso De Albuquerque.
Address: Indian Naval Maritime Museum, K.J. Herschel Road, Kochi
Hours: 06:30 am–05:30 pm (Closed on Mondays)
This article was also published on the IndianExpress.com