I would often wonder what lay within the red building located in one of the crowded gallis of Shukrawar Peth. It was only a few months back that I realised that it housed a grand museum. The museum is a magnificent treasure of India’s arts & craft, architecture, artefacts, heritage and a link to our past.
It would take approximately 2-3 hours for someone to see every exhibit in the museum. It is astonishing to know that the huge compilation of objects all around India is the private collection of one man, Padmashree Dr. D. G. Kelkar (affectionately known as Kaka). The collection is dedicated to the memory of his son Raja, who died an untimely death. It holds about 21,000 artefacts which Kaka personally gathered from across the country.
The museum houses sculptures, paintings, lamps, ivory and terracotta objects. However, the unique part of the museum is the various household objects on display. There are innumerable types of kitchen utensils, writing implements, earthenware, toys and ornaments. For example, the museum has wonderfully sculpted foot scrubs, nutcrackers and range of sarees with different patterns and zari work, telling us about the bygone era and the many instruments used at that time.
What caught my eye was the various doorways displayed across the museum. Each door has a unique design, colour and a remarkable history to it. The wood carvings of windows and doors leave you spellbound, as does the exhibit showcasing an array of weaponry used by the Peshwas and Marathas. The exhibit of musical instruments was a delight too, for it housed many types of instruments that are rarely played today. It has Keshavrao Bhole’s khol, Pannalal Ghosh’s flute and tanpuras of Bal Gandharva and Sawai Gandharva.
What also stands out in the unique museum is a particular oil painting of a lady, dating back to the late 20th century. The eyes and feet of the woman always point in the direction from which you view it. The Mastani Mahal has been recreated at the museum and captures the romance of Peshwa Bajirao and his concubine Mastani. The beautiful setting is the highlight of the museum.
Despite being there for over three hours, I had to leave as it was approaching closing time. If you haven’t been there yet, it is a must-visit for casual viewers and history lovers alike.
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