Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Fascinating Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Yesterday I took myself off for a bit of culture by visiting the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (previously the Victoria & Albert Museum) which was recommended to me by MaximumCityMadam.  

I have been a bit disheartened by the museums I had already visited in India - the uninteresting, dirty displays, the lack of information, the farce of trying to get in (not to mention the 10-20 times price differential on entry fees for foreign persons).  But I was very pleasantly surprised by the BDL Museum - which is set in a fabulously maintained Victorian building, is very nicely laid out and is spotlessly clean.  And besides being a thoroughly fascinating place to visit, it only cost 100 Rs to get in (with no entry farce) and there was no extra photography charge! Unheard of! (You usually either have to put your camera in a locker or pay an additional fee to use your camera in Indian 'places of interest'.)

Beautiful Victorian Edifice

The BDL website tells me that the Victoria & Albert Museum was set up in 1872 and is the oldest museum in the city (and third oldest in the whole of India).  It became Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (not a name that is easy to remember!) in 1975 to honour the man whose vision it was to establish it. Incidentally, there is a formal partnership between BDL and our Victoria & Albert Museum back home in London - and they sometimes share exhibitions and expertise. 

Check out that painted ceiling and tiled floor

I was very impressed by the quality of the displays. On the ground floor you will find examples of Indian handicrafts (silverware, pottery, laquerware, paintings, carvings in ivory).  Upstairs on the first floor there are historic maps, model ships, dioramas and clay models of Bombay life during the 19th and 20th centuries. Such models as 'The Ideal Rural Village' - a bucolic vision with neatly laid out, well built homes and lush green farming land. Bombay didn't really turn out that way - but it was a nice thought anyway.

The place isn't enormous - you can get round in an hour or so (even if you read everything on display) and the shop and cafe behind the main building are tiny.  But the BDL Museum has the most beautiful of interiors that I have seen in a colonial building - so it is well worth a visit just for that.

Some more pics:

Of course frowned at these days - but you can't deny the amazing workmanship of this ivory Shiva carving

Nice examples of colourful pottery

Beautiful workmanship on this silver teapot

Plenty of small paintings showcasing Indian art to be found

Dr Bhau Daji Lad himself

A glimpse into the Conservation Lab - this is a 'proper' museum!

Beautiful Lacquerware

More of that stunning interior

The view down from the first floor

Enjoy reading about the fascinating peoples that make up Bombay - from Parsis, to Bohras to Sikhs and Sindhs.
A complete education!

Dozens of glass cases housing clay models depicted life through the ages - here, Sikh soldiers on horseback

I've always been fascinated by the Towers of Silence in Malabar Hill - which you can't actually see unless you are a Parsi.  This is the place where the Parsis deal with their dead and the above is a model of it...a detailed explanation below.

Towers of Silence diorama from above.

OK...don't freak out!

Stupendous Chandelier

A reminder of past times...

91 A, Rani Baug, 
Veer Mata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan,
Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Marg, 
Byculla East, 
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400027.


10.00 am to 6.00 pm (Tickets sold upto 5:30 pm)
Closed on Wednesdays and certain public holidays

Rs. 10
Children (5 to 15 years)
Rs. 5
Rs. 2
Children (Under 5years & accompanied by parents)

Foreign Citizens
Rs. 100
Children (5 to 15 years)
Rs. 50
Children (Under 5years)

If you're interested in other Mumbai museums, please visit my post about The Prince of Wales Museum


  1. What an interesting place. The building is absolutely beautiful. Fascinating description of corpse disposal!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

    1. Yes I am not sure what most people would make of The Towers of Silence (Dakhma) - but earth and fire are sacred to Zoarastrians (Parsis) - that's why cremation or burial is not used. Exposure of the dead is also considered to be an individual's final act of charity, providing food for birds. Actually, as there are no longer any vultures in Mumbai, they now use 'solar concentrators' - or large mirrors to concentrate sunlight and accelerate decomposition. But if the skies are not clear, this can take rather a long time.....

  2. Gorgeous photos. I've always thought the Bhau Daji Lad Museum is an underrated gem of our city. Wish more folks would pay a visit.

    Was there a camera fee imposed? I'd love to take a few shots myself.

    1. Thanks J! Very good point about the camera - I edited my blog accordingly. You are free to use cameras as you wish with no extra refreshing. I even got some staff to pose for me for one of my 'Group' shots series.

  3. Fascinating way of disposing of the dead ... pretty ecological I suppose! Beautiful museum.

    1. Indeed VJ! See above for further comments on the subject!

  4. The building and exhibits are very handsome and the interior is so gorgeous it gives me goose bumps. Imagine Victorian ladies and gentlemen walking around there looking at the beautiful exhibits.

  5. One of my favourite museums and I visit it mostly for the lovely talks they hold regularly. Lots of maps and models describing the locals and their culture (after all it is a Bombay City Museum). Many innovative and interesting exhibitions held regularly. A must see museum for anyone visiting the city.

  6. It is a very neatly planned museum and they have fabulous public lectures as well. The restoration work itself blew me out and especially the way museum is conceived. Do visit the BEST Museum as well in Anik Depot. Here's my post about the BEST Museum:

    1. Thank you Akshay, I will be sure to check that out! Keep blogging!



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