“Step into a world of timeless treasures and cultural heritage as we journey through the captivating narrative of a century-old museum nestled in the heart of Mumbai.”
A Century-old Museum in the heart of Mumbai
Himalayan experience at the museum- Buddhist prayer wheels in the background
As the financial capital of India, Mumbai has been rapidly speeding into the future, and a typical weekday features the nonstop commute of people, the honking of car horns, the serpentine movement of trains, and the rapid development of modern skyscrapers that have started to dominate the city’s skyline.
But there is a place in Mumbai that slows things down and catapults you into the past. Nested in the heart of South Mumbai is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), formerly known as ‘The Prince of Wales Museum’), a popular attraction for both local and international visitors.
An antique candle holder made out of Bison horn at
The Prince of Wales (who was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936) was scheduled to visit India in 1905. To honour the visit, a few Bombay (now Mumbai) businessmen and philanthropists proposed that a museum be built and be named after the prince. The proposal was approved and eventually, when the prince arrived, the foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales himself. In 1909, George Wittet was chosen to design the museum in the Indo-Saracenic-style, a fusion of Hindu, Islamic and Western styles. By 1914 the museum was complete, but due to the First World War, its opening was halted. Instead, the building was used as a military hospital and a children’s welfare centre.
Finally, on the 10th Jan 1922, the museum was officially opened to public as The Prince of Wales Museum. In 1998, the museum was renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (for a native warrior king of Maharashtra). A new addition to the century old cultural institution was the children’s museum section.
A replica of Indus Valley Civilization terracotta seal
The CSMVS is spread over three acres of land surrounded with trees and scenic flower beds. Upon entering the premises there is a spacious vibe, which is a pleasant relief from the overly cramped streets of Mumbai. A walk toward the main entrance reveals a uniquely laid down and captivating Buddha idol. The tranquillity radiated through the Buddha’s face has a calming effect, making it easy to slow down and enjoy leave behind the sounds of the buzzing city noises.
Inside, the grandeur of the main hall sets the mood for experiencing the museum and the well-curated larger-than-life artefacts help reconstruct the bygone years of human civilisation.
Like any other well-maintained museum, the CSMVS’s rich content has unique ‘infotainment’ value. It exhibits more than 50,000 artefacts in the form of idols, paintings, woodwork, metal work, and photography, which appeals to curious minds fond of history, art, anthropology and nature. Various galleries at the museum offers glimpses into past cultures, civilisations and natural history.
Spin the Buddhist prayer wheels that are installed in a rock structure in the Himalayan Gallery, and you’ll be transported to into the Himalayan region of India and Nepal. In Natural History Gallery, animals and birds of the Indian region have been taxidermically mounted, while colourful paintings and rock sculptures depicting deities like goddess Kali, Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna in the Painting Gallery relate stories from Hindu mythology.
All in all, an enriching experience.
Painting gallery at the CSMVS
In 1905, few wealthy visionaries from Bombay (now Mumbai) namely David Sassoon, Premchand Roychand, Jamshedjee Jijiboy and others, proposed the establishment of the museum at Bombay. It is impressive that this institution celebrated its century last year. The public-private partnership model on which the museum functions urges the citizens to adopt selected artefacts and thereby sponsor individual exhibits or entire galleries so that the museum’s legacy of preserving art, culture and civilisation continues attracting and enriching a million visitors every year.
Come see for yourself how special this place is.
Buddha idol at the Himalayan Gallery of the CSMVS
BeSeeingYou In: Mumbai, India.
Good to Know: Due to maintenance reasons, certain galleries are shut down randomly, therefore it is suggested to refer to the CSMVS website before visiting.
WOW! Factor: Rock sculptures of deities from Hindu Mythology
Tip: The museum is open from 10.15 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday (except for certain public holidays).
Author Bio: Shraddha C Sankulkar