The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A visit to the museum

Relived my childhood through a visit to Indian Museum with my daughter on last Christmas eve. Visited the place only once with my father ages back. Have wanted to go back many a time all this while. The museum turned 200 years last year.
It has extensive collection of exhibits of anthropology, archaeology, geology, botany, zoology and art spread in 25 galleries on three floors. The ticket has a do-it- yourself guide of all the galleries and facilities of the museum at the back which I found very useful. It was a tad disappointing that many galleries were closed for modernization. But it did feel good to see the improved aesthetics and presentation of the modernized galleries- for example terracotta, zoology and Egypt. The ticket costs just Rs 10 and you can do photography of the exhibits on collecting a permit for Rs 50 (and it’ll be worth it) from the counter.
Not much is to be said about the collection. It’s amongst the best in India. A child of any age will be mesmerized by the exhaustiveness of the exhibits in various sections. The visit will be especially enriching if he/ she has been studying Indian history and life science for a few years. My little one was obviously excited to see the dinosaur skeletons and the mummy in the Egypt gallery (which is one of the museum’s major attractions) in particular.
I was amused by two exhibits. One was a 19th century chessboard from Murshidabad in the Decorative Art section on the second floor. It’s a standard size marble board with chessmen made in ivory. The unique feature was that all the chessmen were actual- so there were actual boats, elephants, horses and soldiers. The other one was a life size Durga idol completely made in jute in the ‘Plants in the service of man’ section on the same floor.

The chessboard
The collection is so vast, an entire day (It’s open 10 am to 4.30 pm/ 5 pm) may feel short if almost all the galleries are open. We spent about three hours and had to rush through many sections. There’s a sprawling, well-manicured lawn inside where you can rest your aching feet after/ in the middle of the tour in the mellow sun in this season. Food isn’t allowed inside. There’s an in-house cafeteria, but though the food is decent and reasonably priced, it lacks variety. In the afternoon we found nothing other than kachuri (puri)-ghooghni  (which we had) and rice meals available and the items were getting sold out fast.

The pristine white Raj era building and the lawn