India is a diverse country; not only in terms of its people and flora/fauna, but in every possible way. There is diversity even in its museums. The most interesting, unique, and intriguing museums are scattered all through the country, and many are not aware of them. When visiting a new city within the country, a museum is rarely in the itinerary, unless the visitor has read about it before. Here are ten unique places which you need to visit if you are ever in the neighborhoods.
National Rail Museum
Situated in Chanakyapuri in New Delhi, the National Rail Museum was first opened for visitors on February 1, 1977. It has indoor and outdoor exhibits and is open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:30am to 5:30pm. The main exhibits of the museum include the Morris Fire Engine, Patiala State Monorail Trainways, Fairy Queen, Saloon of Prince of Wales, Electric locomotive 4502 Sir Leslie Wilson, Saloon of Maharaja of Mysore, Saloon of Maharaja of Indore, Betty Tramways (Fowler Diesel), Cranetank, Electric locomotive Sir Roger Lumley, Electric Locomotive YCG -E1/21900, Kalka Shimla Rail Bus, Matheran Rail Car No 8899, MG Diesel SR 203 (Fowler Diesel), Steam Locomotive X -37385, Fireless steam locomotive, and Steam Locomotive A -885 HASANG.
Khalsa Heritage Museum
Known as Virasat-e-Khalsa, it is situated in Anandpur, which happens to be a holy town that has 500 years of Sikh history in it. Established in 1999, the museum is owned by the Punjab government.
Naval Aviation Museum
Situated in Bogmalo, 6km from Vasco da Gama, Goa, the museum has exhibits both indoors and outdoors. It was established in 1998. The outdoor exhibits include Sea Harrier FRS.51 – IN 621, Westland Sea King Mk 42, Kamov Ka-25 +, Lockheed L1049G Super Constellation, Short Sealand Mk 2, Fairey Firefly TT Mk1Hughes Hu-300, HAL Chetak, HAL HT-2, de Havilland Vampire T-55, Breguet Alizé, and Hawker Sea Hawk FGA Mk 100. The indoor gallery has multiple sections, one of which houses the Indian Navy’s bombs, torpedoes, sensors, and cannons.
Mayong Black Magic and Witchcraft Museum
Known as the Land of Black Magic, Mayong is a village in Assam that lies on the bank of the Brahmaputra and is surrounded by hills on the other sides. It is about 40 km from Guwahati and is known as the Indian capital of black magic and witchcraft. The history of this place and how black magic entered the region is not very well documented. There are rumors according to which men have disappeared into thin air, people have become animals, and untamable beasts have magically become tame and approachable. Relics of black magic are preserved in this museum.
Paldi Kite Museum
This museum is located at Sanskar Kendra in the Paldi locality of Ahmedabad. The person behind it is Bhanu Shah who started it by contributing rare kites from his own collection. The contributions were given to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation which in turn donated a space for the museum in 1985. Since then, many rare kites have been added to the collection, one of which measures 22 ft by 16 ft. The museum also has some beautiful miniature paintings featuring Krishna and Radha.
INS Kurusura Submarine Museum
A very unique museum, INS Kurusura was originally a Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy. It has 31 years of service in its kitty and was also a part of the Indo-Pak war of 1971. It was decommissioned in the year 2001, and after that it was converted into a museum along the Ramakrishna Mission Beach of Vishakhapatnam. The museum is closed on Mondays and is open from 2pm to 9pm the rest of the week. More than 91 meters in length and eight meters broad, the submarine is placed on a concrete foundation to keep it stable. Once inside, visitors can see exactly how a submarine looks, how it functions, the crew members and how they live, what they eat, what they wear – first-hand experience of how it is to be inside a maritime submarine, albeit above water.
Human Brain Museum
Bangalore’s NIMHANS has a human brain museum which was set up in 1995 to promote research in neurobiology. It was made in association with the central government’s Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It is open for the public only on Saturdays 10am to 3pm. Take a pledge to be a brain donor here. Visitors get to know the brain inside out – anatomy, neurology, physiology, psychology, psychiatry, and neurosurgery.
The largest and the oldest museum in India, Indian Museum was founded in Kolkata in the year 1814. It houses rare collections like Mughal paintings, mummies, fossils, skeletons, antiques, armor, and ornaments. The museum is closed to visitors on Monday and open from 10am to 5pm the rest of the week. The museum operates under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
Archaeological Museum in Lothal
This museum is actually one of the cities of the Indus valley civilization which dates back to 370 BCE and is quite fascinating. Located in the Ahmedabad district, the city was discovered in 1954 and excavation competed in 1960. Among the findings are a township, a marketplace, a dock, and a mound. The city is of course in ruins and is managed by Archaeological Survey of India. It is accessible to the public.
Shankar’s International Dolls Museum
Established in 1965, the International Dolls Museum has about 6,500 dolls and is located at Nehru House, Delhi. The museum operates under the Children’s Book Trust, which was set up by famous cartoonist K Shankar Pillai. Once a Hungarian diplomat gifted him a doll from the country which germinated the idea of collecting dolls from different countries he visited. On one of Pillai’s exhibits of his dolls, Jawaharlal Nehru is said to have visited with his daughter. Indira, who, along with Pillai, later set up the doll museum. Apart from Pillai’s own collection, the museum also has dolls which have been gifted by Jawaharlal Nehru as well as Prime Ministers after him and many other eminent personalities.