Tuesday 11 September 2012

A ruined visit to the Prince of Wales Museum

Having been ill with ear ache for the whole of the previous week, I suggested to Mr Jules that visiting a museum would be a nice, calming and cultured way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  So it was with this in mind that we set off in the car to visit the Prince of Wales Museum in South Mumbai.  Or Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya as it is more catchily known as these days.

The exterior of the building, surrounded by lush greenery - rare to find in Bombay
We just about got in OK, despite battling dozens of Indians at the entrance who evidently did not know what the word "queue" meant (why aren't we used to this by now?). Before longish, we were viewing the museum's showcase of archaeology, art and artefacts, decorative arts, stone sculptures, and its Chinese and Japanese collections.  How cultured, how relaxing! There is also an extensive Natural History section with all manner of stuffed animals native to India, including a fish and bird section:

Images from the Natural History section - once majestic animals

Of more interest to me was the collection of Decorative Art objects in jade, wood, ivory, metal and textiles, described as 'magnificent' by the museum curators.  I have to say, they weren't a patch on the displays at the Victoria & Albert Museum back home in London, but they weren't bad.  The selection of art originating from all parts of India was also interesting - some of it gaudy, some of it naive, some intricate, some very very beautiful. 

As is always the case, Mr Jules and I never seem to be able to go anywhere without some sort of drama. Today, it happened to be schoolkids.  Hundreds (maybe thousands!) of schoolkids. Schoolkids emerging out of every crevice of of the building, marching through every room, filling every stairwell, sitting on every seat.  Every corner we turned they were there.  And then some of the school girls started to bet each other that they could speak to us.  So then they started shouting 'NAMASTE!!!' (welcome) every time they saw us (which was every two minutes), stopping to put their hands together and then asking for me to photograph them.  The noise these schoolchildren were making was riotous, disturbing my nice peaceful day and hurting my already overwhelmed eardrum. We tried to dodge them by going in the opposite direction or going to another part of the museum but there were so many of them it was impossible.  In the end we just gave up and fled.  We will go back another day when it's quieter! (why aren't schoolkids at home on Saturdays?)

School children coming out of every crevice of the building


Some more images from the museum (I had to pay an extra 200 rupees on top of the entry fee to use my camera)

A good collection of Blue and White Chinese pottery
Nice bit of Chinoiserie
Art at the Sir Ratan Tata Gallery (his statue in the foreground)
Some very decent western art in the Ratan Tata Gallery (didn't note the artist of this one)
This is a very important book - the Panchatantra. - an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sharma. It is based on stories told from one generation to the next, including "animal fables that are as old as we are able to imagine". It is the most frequently translated book in India.
Attractive slightly Gothic interior of the museum - a Grade 1 listed building completed in the early 1900s

A statue of a Hindu Goddess
or.....Katie Price formerly known as Jordan?

A guard having five minutes to himself

The Prince of Wales Museum
(Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya)
159/61 Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Fort, Mumbai 400 023.
Telephone Nos.: 22844484 | 22844519

VISITING HOURS Tuesday to Sunday,10:15a.m.to 6:00 p.m. Monday closed
The Museum remains completely closed on following days:
January 26, May 1, August 15, October 2
ADMISSION (free for disabled visitors) fees
Type of Visitor Amount
Visitors above 12 years of age Rs. 40/-
College Students bearing their college identity cardRs. 20/-
Child Visitors (between 5 and 12 years) and Students coming through schoolsRs. 05/-
International Visitors above 12 years of age (includes complimentary audio guide) (That's us)Rs. 300/-
International Students bearing school / college identity cardRs. 20/-
International Child Visitors between 5 to 12 years of age Rs. 05/
Group concession available Rs. 30/-



  1. As a brand new Mumbaiker-expat I enjoyed my trip to this museum with my husband. It's a lovely building and gratifyingly our visit didn't coincide with school trips. We did get offered drugs though, very politely. I'm sure that's not normal practice, we must just have been lucky.

  2. Haha that's too funny! Welcome to Mumbai amasc, I hope you are enjoying it so far!

  3. Loving it thanks, we've been nearly a year and a half now and are just about to sign contracts for another two years. I think that says it all really. Your blog puts me to shame though, you've managed to post so much in your relatively short time here - I must try harder. I'm glad your adventure is working out so well for you.

    1. Oh, I thought you meant you were brand new now...well in that case you have a few things to teach me!!!! Anyway, I am sure I will burn out soon and go quiet..let's see

    2. Oh Anna I just checked out your blog....your photos are insanely good! I can't believe I haven't happened upon you before, the expat blogging community seems to be so small. Gonna add you to my blogroll


  4. Don't think that is a guard in the last picture, just a visitor cooling his heels!!! You must see the miniature paintings gallery with the pahadi paintings and the Tibetan and Nepali thangka art. This museum also houses the Museum Society of Bombay of which I am a member and attend the many lectures, programmes and field trips arranged by them in collaboration with the museum.



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