The Past is the mother of Present and both combined together can emerge as a genuine guide to the Future. The importance of a Museum lies in this conviction.
The western state of Gujarat is obviously known for its vibrancy and heritage. It is a land of traditions and legends.
Gujarat is home to well preserved historical sites and heritage monuments. The state govrnment has a Heritage Tourism Policy 2020-25.
It is essentially aimed at educating the present and the future through the past. There are always lessons from the legacy of the past. According to an official source, “In order to provide a unique and profound sense of the rich culture and ancient heritage to the tourists, many Heritage properties in Gujarat have been converted into Heritage Museums, Heritage Hotels and Heritage Banquet Hall”.
Hold on for a while. Can we seek to get some ‘relevance’ of the past monuments and arts
for ‘Young India’ which often gets a taste of incessant drumbeats about a glorious and ancient civilisation?
True, Museums do speak the language of their own. Hence, the old structures and elaborate interiors in a medley lovely mosaics and artworks can take one to the past and also help those individuals and younger lots to know about new things of human life, art and civilization.
The grand buildings, bronze, silver and copper sculptures can always ignite the creativity of the visitors and can widen their aesthetic sense.
According to Gujarat government officials, the museums in the state can be categorized broadly under three categories — Central Govt Museums, State Govt-maintained museums and Non Govt Museums and Science galleries.
But there are always exceptions to the rule and as they say – ‘a few unique, innovative and Gujarat specials’.
For instance – The Kite Museum in Ahmedabad.
Established in 1956, it is of course the first of its kind. The museum showcases an extraordinary collection of kites, papers used to make kites, and illustrations/paintings. The collection includes mirror-work kites, Japanese kites and also a 16-foot long kite that depicts the Garba. It’s uniqueness is that it depicts kites way back from the 16th century.
# Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum, Vadodara
This museum, located within the massive Lukshmi Vilas Palace estate, showcases the artwork collected by the royal family over decades.
— A large collection of the Baroda Museum was due to the efforts of former ruler Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad. It has a wide range of collection of national and international art collections. Here, the visitors can enjoy glimpses of rich European paintings of great masters. One should not miss the traditional Indian miniature paintings also.
Officials also say that various Heritage Tourism units as defined by the state government’s policy announcement are eligible to avail incentives and concessions.
Among special attractions is the Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum, Ahmedabad.
Here one should not miss the 6th-century sandstone carving from Madhya Pradesh (the oldest-known image of God Ram), the Chola-style Nataraja, and a Nepali/Tibetan bronze mandala.
A part of the LD Institute of Indology, this museum is a repository of India’s multicultural heritage.
The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Museum in Ahmedabad houses personal possessions of the country’s first Home Minister and the ‘Iron Man’ of modern India.
The museum dedicated to the time, works and the life of Sardar is housed in Moti Shahi Mahal, a palace built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. The building has four wings. The central hall showcases portraits of Patel, his family, friends, and colleagues during the Indian freedom struggle.
Natural History Museum at Kankaria Zoo:
This came into existence in 1975. It is a part of the zoo run by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, The special attractions here are – the life size dioramas of birds and mammals of Gujarat.
They are displayed in their realistic postures.
There are still a wide range of Museums to attract visitors.
One such speciality is Aina Mahal Museum at Bhuj. The last ruler of Kutch, Manarao Madansinhji, established this on Jan 1, 1977. The Aina Mahal – as the name suggests – is an old palace of mirrors.
There are a few more – Vintage Car Museum in Ahmedabad and Dolls Museum at Rajkot. Here the special attraction is — the children can receive information through 33 languages. Here they can expand their knowledge on different economies, geographies and national; songs of different countries.
The Khoj Museum in Ahmedabad is a children-friendly learning centre that focuses on science, arts, and innovation and offers exhibits, activities, and challenges. There are two permanent exhibits: A for Astronomy and Able. This is an interactive museum.
The Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition Centre, Ahmedabad 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.
# The Auto World Museum in Ahmedabad was established by the late Pranlal Bhogilal, one of India’s famous car collectors.
# Financial assistance up to Rs 5 lakh to Heritage Tourism Units Association.Body to carry out market research studies on Heritage travel and tourism.
# Vadnagar hit headlines:
Vadnagar is also the native place of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
May 18 is celebrated across the world as International Museum Day. On this occasion this year (2022), the Gujarat government announced mega plans to turn the historic city of Vadnagar into a world-class heritage tourism destination.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel inaugurated the Vadnagar International Conference at the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Gujarat government’s Sports, Youth and Cultural Activities Department and the Directorate of Museums.
In his speech Chief Minister Patel said that Vadnagar is one of the oldest towns consisting of continuous human settlements since the 3rd and 4th centuries.
# Union Home Minister Amit Shah on June 12, 2022 inaugurated development works of more than Rs 80 crore and the innovative Khukri museum at Diu.
— INS Khukri , the lead ship of the Indian Navy’s Khukri class missile corvettes which was decommissioned, in 2021, was handed over to the Diu administration to be converted into a museum. Diu is a coastal town at the eastern end of Diu Island and a bridge connects the island to the western
state of Gujarat.
The Diu administration had approached the Defence Ministry in 2019 for gifting the vessel, for public display.