Usually, when on a holiday, visiting a museum may not be on one’s itinerary. Yet, there are some fascinating museums in Indian that are worth stopping by. Here’s a list of 8 peculiar yet intriguing museums in India you’ll be surprised to know about!
1. Mayong Central Museum and Emporium, Assam
This museum is located in the Mayong village of Assam. The village is regarded as the birthplace of black magic in India and is known as the ‘The Land of Black Magic’ in Assam. If you’d like to get a glimpse of the spooky mysterious past of this region, The Mayong Central Museum is just the right place.
The museum contains various witchcraft manuscripts and ancient texts on Ayurveda and Black Magic. There are also displays of stone statues, jewellery made of bones and seashells, old coins and swords, that were supposedly used for human sacrifices. The villagers have preserved these relics that were once used by their ancestors for witchcraft and sorcery. Moreover, visitors can get a chance to witness a demonstration of some ancient rituals by the locals. This place will surely give you the heebie-jeebies!
2. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Delhi
Another quite outlandish museum is the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, which is quite popular in India for its bizarre collection of toilets. An interesting fact, the museum has been ranked 3rd among the World’s 10 Weirdest Museums by Time Magazine.
The museum throws light on the importance of sanitisation and the historical trends in the evolution of toilets. The concept of establishing this museum was given by Mr. Bindheshwar Pathak, an expert in the field of sanitation. The toilets displayed here date back to 5000 years ago, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the end of the 20th century.
It begins from the Harappan times’ sanitation arrangements to those of the Middle Ages and also includes toilets from Akbar’s fort in Fatehpur-Sikri. It’s fascinating to see how this eccentric assortment of toilets represents the different eras. You would be stunned to see some extraordinary and unique displays of stone-studded Victorian toilet seats and also toilets made of gold that were apparently used by Roman emperors.
In the modern toilets section, you will find the toy-commode from China, an American electric toilet and some ultra-modern electronic toilets from South Korea, Japan and some other countries. There is also a model of the world’s biggest toilet complex of Shirdi in Maharashtra.
3. Shankar's International Dolls Museum, Delhi
This museum was founded by Shankar Pillai, who is one of the first political cartoonists of India. A Hungarian diplomat once gifted him a traditional doll from his country, which urged him to start collecting dolls from all over the world. The museum has a striking collection of dolls that Mr. Pillai collected from different countries that he visited. He travelled and held exhibitions in many places to teach poor children about world cultures in a fun way. One of his shows was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi. Later, along with Indira, Mr. Pillai set up this doll museum. Jawaharlal Nehru and many other Prime Ministers and notable personalities have gifted dolls to be kept in this museum.
Now, the museum houses a collection of over 6,700 dolls that arrived from more than 85 countries. It has an impressive collection of costumed dolls ranging from Shakespearean dolls to elegant Geisha miniatures of Japan. You will also find some authentic African figurines and numerous antique puppets belonging to different nations. Each doll is unique, representing the culture and art of their country of origin. This multi-racial and multi-ethnic collection of dolls is truly a feast for the eyes.
4. Arna Jharna ‘Museum of Brooms’, Rajasthan
Yes, you read it right! There is a Museum of Brooms located in a village called Moklawas in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It sounds mind-boggling to think that there can be an actual museum allocated to jhadoos, but when we understand the whole context behind which it was created, it does make sense. Late Komal Kothari, the founder of this museum, wanted to showcase the importance of this apparently insignificant object that we use in our daily lives.
A jhadoo has been used in India for ages and is present in almost all Indian households across states, religions, and communities. This one-of-a-kind museum displays different kinds of brooms placed in different categories. They are divided into ‘female’ brooms that are used inside the household and ‘male’ brooms that are used in outer spaces. In Rajasthan, female brooms signify prosperity and are associated with Goddess Lakshmi. These brooms are kept in a horizontal position for luck. The male brooms are sturdier, which makes them suitable for sweeping rougher surfaces. The brooms are further categorized according to the different agrarian zones of Rajasthan.
5. Paldi Kite Museum, Ahmedabad
The city of Ahmedabad is popular throughout the world for its Kite festival. So it is not surprising that the city can have a whole museum dedicated to kites. Its founder, Mr. Bhanu Shah, a kite fancier, donated his 50-year-old collection of rare kites to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The museum, established in 1985, exhibits some of the rarest kites known, making it the first of its kind in India and second in the world.
6. The Human Brain Museum, Bangalore
This museum is situated in the basement of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru. This whacky museum has around 300 brain specimens that are preserved in jars. They have been collected from donors and victims of road accidents. Each brain here has its own story to convey. The purpose of creating this museum, according to its founder, Dr. S.K. Shankar, is to educate the people about the prevention measures and treatments available for about 70% of the displayed diseases. The weirdest part is that visitors can even get to hold a real brain at the end of the tour!
7. Sudha Car Museum, Hyderabad
Here’s another quirky museum, the Sudha Car Museum, that is the brainchild of K. Sudhakar. Through this innovative museum, he displays an impressive collection of antique cars and motorcycles. He has also received the Guinness World Record, as well as a mention in the Limca Book of Records for making the world's largest tricycle.
Moreover, there is a distinctive collection of handmade cars made out of scrap metal. There are cars and motorbikes of almost everything you could imagine, like - burger cars and cars in the shape of a lipstick, a handbag, a soccer ball and even a laddoo car!
8. Doc’s Locks Museum, Gujarat
Located in Ahmedabad, the Doc’s Locks museum is another fun place you would enjoy visiting. It has been founded and run by Dr. Hiren Shah a pediatrician and his wife, Dr. Namita Shah, a gynecologists There’s another factor that makes this museum a little different compared to the other ones. It is not in a huge building but is set up in the doctor couple’s house.
The word ‘LOCKs’ is an abbreviation for Lovers of Old Collectables and Knick-knacks’. Well, don’t let the name mislead you into thinking it’s only about a love of locks. All the rooms, including the entrance, kitchen and even bathrooms have some unique elements and artifacts. The museum has various other interesting items such as antique furniture, clocks, peacock figurines and sculptures on display as well. Additionally, there is a personal story attached to almost every item. You will also find a 250-year-old jharokha (an ornate window frame) which was brought in 200 pieces from a South Indian village. Dr. Hiren has a collection of almost 2000 locks in his basement, and are known as ‘Doc’s Locks’. Out of these, around 600 are trick locks, which is the largest collection in the world!
Do you know more such bizarre museums in India? Share with us in the comments below.
Pratha Content Writing Intern