Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, Maharashtra

March 2, 2015 - Maharashtra, Museums, Tourist Centers
Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, Maharashtra

The chhstrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya museum and initially known as Prince of Wales Museum of Western India is the most famous and  biggest museum located in a little close to famous Gateway of India, in the heart of South Mumbai , Maharashtra. This remarkable landmark encompassing an area of three acres was built in 20th century to commemorate Prince of Wales and his maiden visit in India and later in 1990 it was renamed after chhstrapati Shivaji. The intricate museum-complex includes almost fifty thousand ancient art collections which comprise Indian history, archaeology and various weapons used in British period. Designed in Indo-Saracenic style, the museum has been drawing numerous tourists every day since its inception.

The structural design of the colossal museum reflects the unique blend of Indo-Saracenic and Western India and spreading over an area of three acres. The three-storied rectangular building is constructed predominantly with Kurla basalt and trachyte. The building has a main entrance porch above which a dome is mounted. The central dome of the museum is engulfed by a cluster of pinnacles topped with several tiny domes. Inside it one can also observe projected balconies and floors reflecting Islamic features and Mughal palace architecture. George Wittet had provided the architectural design of the monument and included some special decoration like columns, railings and protruding balconies of 18th century. Lately, in the year 2008 the museum was once again revamped and created a space of 30,000 sq. feet to equip five more new galleries. A paint Gallery entitled Bombay to Mumbai was inaugurated in the year 2015 and Mr.Neil MacGregor presided the inaugural ceremony. In addition, the renovation work included initiation of the Krishna Gallery, the artifacts manifesting lord Krishna’s divinity, the Textile Gallery elaborating textile manufacturing and the Indian Miniature Painting Gallery which comprises several artworks relating to Braille text and its compositions to help the blind people. The construction cost of the museum was approximately Rs. 800,000/-and borne by Royal Visit Memorial Fund and the Govt. and Municipality of Bombay. In addition, Sir Cowasji Jehangir had given an additional Rs. 50,000/- to complete the building. Now the famous museum is taken care by Bombay Municipal Corporation.

The foundation stone of colossal monument was laid down in the year 1905 and was a part of the project to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales and his maiden tour to India. The main structure was built on an area called crescent site and commissioned by Govt. of Bombay. The structural design of main frame was the brainchild of Architect George Wittet who had his idea on building another famous landmark of Mumbai, the Gateway of India in the following year. Though the remarkable piece of structure was a remembrance to the royal visit but soon later in 1995 Indian Govt. renamed it after Shivaji in an attempt to pay the homage –the founder of Maratha Empire.

The chhstrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum includes as many as 50,000 exhibits and artworks. The whole collections have been categorized into three portions namely   Art, Archaeology and History. In art section, prominent artifacts are the collections of Purushottam Mavji, Sir Ratan Tata and Dorab Tata donated in 1915,1921and 1933 respectively. One small stone-cut idol of dancing Krishna is another notable piece of collection from Nepal-Tibet inhabitants kept inside the complex. In addition, numerous ancient artwork of Mughal period, notable manuscripts date back to 17th century feature the museum hall. The ivory section has been engaged with artifacts made during Gupta era. European art, Chinese porcelain, ivory and jade artifacts are also placed inside to entertain the visitors. Archaeological section of the Museum is occupied by weapons, ornaments, fishing hook etc. date back to Indus Valley Civilization period.  Buddhist Stupas, various sculpture of Gupta Period, artifacts dating to the Chalukyan era and statues of Rashtrakuta period are the some prominent collections.  The museum encloses a large hall contains natural historical section and fostered by Bombay Natural History society. This section predominantly occupies pictorial diagrams and charts of Indian wildlife like flamingoes, great hornbills and tigers.