Gujarat is the land of traditions and legends, and is known for its vibrant culture and heritage. The regions may be many, but the people are united by the melange of festivals, fairs, dance forms, art, and architecture. The best place to see this is in the many museums dotted across the state. Here is part one of must visit museums in Gujarat:
Lukshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Built by Sayajirao in 1890, the imposing structure is still the residence of Vadodara’s royal family. The palace is the largest private dwelling ever constructed—built over 12 years, it is spread over 500 acres, comprises 150 rooms and is said to be four times bigger than Buckingham Palace. The elaborate interiors are a medley of lovely mosaics, chandeliers, and artworks, and include a collection of weaponry and art. The jewel in the crown are the many paint- ings by Raja Ravi Verma, who was specially commissioned. Other structures in the premises include the Navlakhi stepwell, Moti Baug Palace, and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.
Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad
Founded in 1949, this museum showcases the rich and diverse textile culture of the 600-year-old city—the Manchester of the East. Said to house one of the world’s finest collections of antique and modern Indian textiles, there are some amazing pieces on display: double-ikat fabrics in which the 100,000 threads were individually dyed before weaving and Kashmiri shawls that took three years to make. The main textile galleries can only be visited in the morning sessions. The afternoon tour takes you through the Sarabhai Foundation’s collection of religious art and a textile gallery.
Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad
Built in April 1954, this museum—christened the Museum of Knowledge—was designed by Le Corbusier. The building rests on his signature pillars, 11 feet high, and is worth visiting for the architecture alone. It houses two museums: a kite museum and the Museum of the City, which presents the history of Ahmedabad from the 11th century through objects, artworks, and historical documents.
Kite Museum, Ahmedabad
The centre also houses the Kite Museum, initiated by Bhanu Shah when he donated his kite collection to the Ahmedabad Munici- pal Corporation. The museum showcases an extraordinary collection of kites, papers used to make kites, and illustrations/paint- ings. The collection includes mirrorwork kites, Japanese kites, block-print kites and a 16-foot long kite that depicts the Garba.
Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery, Vadodara
One of largest parks in Vadodara—Sayaji Baug (also known as Kamati Baug)—is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri River. Built by Sayajirao III in 1879, it is spread over 113 acres and houses an impressive museum. Designed by reputed architect Robert Chisholm, the museum has many attractions: originals by British painters JMW Turner, John Constable, and others, an Egyptian mummy, the skeleton of a blue whale, Akota bronzes, and Mughal miniatures.
Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum, Vadodara
This rich museum, located within the massive Lukshmi Vilas Palace estate, showcases the artwork collected by the royal family over decades. Enjoy the European Renaissance and Rococo paintings and portraits, marble busts, and an original collection of portrai- ture by Raja Ravi Verma. Artefacts from different countries are displayed over two floors and a fully functional toy train—with the world’s smallest locomotive engine— which used to ferry the royal children around in the garden can also be seen.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Museum, Ahmedabad
The museum that commemorates the life and times of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is housed in Moti Shahi Mahal, a palace built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. Set amidst manicured gardens, the building has four wings. The central hall showcases portraits of Patel, his family, friends, and col- leagues during the Indian freedom struggle. His personal possessions are on display while one room showcases Sardar’s youth, education, and legal career, his comradeship with Mahatma Gandhi, and his work in integrating princely states into India.
Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum, Ahmedabad
A part of the LD Institute of Indology, this museum is a repository of India’s multicultural heritage. The rich collection comprises ancient and medieval sculptures, bronzes, manuscripts and miniature paintings, drawings, wood carving art works, coins, bead work art, and 75,000 Jain manuscripts. Don’t miss the 6th-century sandstone carving from Madhya Pradesh (the oldest-known image of Rama), the Chola-style Nataraja, and a Nepali/Tibetan bronze mandala. It also has an art library and conservation lab.
Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition Centre, Ahmedabad
The vision of scientist and astronomer Vikram Sarabhai translated into this kid-friendly exhibition centre. It showcases the progress of India’s space programmes and includes engaging components such as a science playground, laboratories, workshops, a science shop, and participatory activities.
Khoj Museum, Ahmedabad
This child-friendly learning centre focuses on science, arts, and innovation and offers exhibits, activities, and challenges. There are two permanent exhibits: A for Astronomy and Able. The interactive museum is a great hit with children.