Monday, July 27, 2009

Mumbai Revealed

Bang in the centre of Mumbai city, in the midst of all the urban chaos is a quiet little place where the history of Mumbai is revealed, right from the time it was known as Heptanesia (Greek for "cluster of seven islands") - the earliest documented name for the seven islands of Bombay (Mumbai) in India. The Greek geographer, Ptolemy mentioned the area in his geographic works. About 12kms from Bandra, in Byculla stands the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in the same compound as that of the Veer Jijamata Udyan (the zoo). They have a parking lot and the charge of Rs.20/- has to be paid at the entrance itself. At the entrance there is a beautiful clock tower. This museum is the oldest museum in Mumbai. Built in 1872, it was initially christened as Victoria & Albert Museum. It was renamed as the Bhau Daji Lad museum in 1975 to honour the dedication and vision of the man who ensured its establishment. The history of this Museum reveals that it was planned with an amount of Rupees 6,000, at the initiative of Dr. Bhau. The marvellous structure of building had lost its sheen with the times, but thanks to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Mumbai (INTACH) it has been renovated with utmost care. In 1996, INTACH approached the Corporation with a proposal to resurrect the institution, and to set up a conservation laboratory. After a considerable period of negotiation and discussion, the Municipal Corporation decided to collaborate with INTACH and with the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation, to restore the fortunes of the museum. The treasury comprises of more than 6000 valuable artefacts, including sculptures, pottery, coins, ivory work, paintings, etc. It also has special sections on the social and cultural life in India. On the lawn adjacent to the museum is the elephant that had given Elephanta caves its name. Apparently the British wanted to transport it to England, but in the process the crane dropped it and was broken into pieces. It was finally restored and placed at the entrance to the museum. It is flanked by cannons on either side making it look formidable. On the same lawns are a few statues of British Royalty and a beautifully designed light tower. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the museum hence cannot show you the beauty inside. The inside of the museum is exquisitely decorated by chandeliers and pillars. Do not miss the opportunity to visit this gem during your visit to Mumbai. It is an experience one would cherish. For a virtual tour visit Getting there: The nearest railway station on the Central line is Byculla and Mahalaxmi on the Western line. It is well connected by BEST buses from all over Mumbai. Visiting hours are 1000hrs to 1730hrs. It is closed on Wednesdays and certain Public holidays. You can call them on 022-23731234. The entrance fees are Rs.10/- for adults and Rs.5/- for children between 5-15years. Children under 5yrs are admitted free.