Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
Housed in a Grade I Heritage Building of Indo-Saracenic architecture, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum, was established in 1905.
Housed in a Grade I Heritage Building of Indo-Saracenic architecture, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum, was established in 1905. With a wide-ranging collection of over 50,000 artifacts comprising archeological finds, historical objects, paintings and sculpture, it is the best museum in Mumbai to delve into Indian history and culture. There is also a Natural History section.
Designed by George Wittet, the Indo-Saracenic buildingâ€™s white dome was modeled on the Golconda Fort, with the inner vault inspired by the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur and the finial by the Taj Mahal. The facade has English municipal buff brickwork incorporating the columns, railings and balcony of an 18th century Wada (a Maratha mansion) and Saracenic arches with jalis and Rajput jharokhas, leading to interiors with Jain style columns, which form the main body of the central pavilion below the Maratha balcony.
The central Key Gallery on the ground floor displays a representative collection of sculptures from ancient and medieval India, including 4th and 5th century Buddhist sculptures. Highlights are a 5th century terracotta Devotee from a Buddhist stupa in Mirpurkhas, a 2nd century sculpture of Buddha meeting an ascetic sourced from Gandhara, a 7th century Chalukyan bas-relief from Aihole of Brahma on a lotus, and a 6th century basalt stele of Mahisasuramardini from Elephanta. The Pre and Proto History collection on the mezzanine floor displays terracotta works and shell jewellery from the Indus Valley civilization sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The East Wing extension has the Natural History section with dioramas and taxidermed exhibits of wildlife in India.
The first floor has the Miniature Paintings Gallery, Krishna Gallery and Nepal â€“ Tibet Gallery. Highlights include a 17th century Mughal miniature of Jehangir giving Alms to Sufi mendicants at the Ajmer Dargah Sharif, a 19th century ivory figurine of a traditionally dressed Parsi girl Bai Aimai Wadia, the 17th century Mewar Ramayana folios commissioned by Rana Jagat Singh I, a 12th century gilt bronze statue of the Maitreya Buddha and 16th century gilt bronze statue of Songtsen Gampo. The extension has the Karl & Meherbai Khandalavala Gallery, and the House of Laxmi displaying Indian coins of interest to numismatists.
The second floor has the European Painting Gallery, Decorative Arts Gallery, and the Far-Eastern Gallery which displays Chinese snuff bottles, ceramics and a 19th century Japanese cloisonnÃ©. The Arms & Armour Gallery displays a collection of medieval weaponry, highlight of which is a cuirass inscribed with religious verses, helmet and jade dagger which were worn by the Mughal Emperor Akbar.