Gujarat is the land of traditions and legends, and is known for its vibrant culture and heritage. Regions may be many, but people are united by the mix of festivals, fairs, dance forms, art and architecture. The best place to see this is in the many museums scattered across the state. Here is the first part of the must-see museums in Gujarat:
Lukshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Built by Sayajirao in 1890, the imposing structure is still the residence of the royal family of Vadodara. The palace is the largest private dwelling ever built – built over 12 years, it spans 500 acres, has 150 rooms and is said to be four times larger than Buckingham Palace. The elaborate interiors are a mix of beautiful mosaics, chandeliers, and artwork, and include a collection of weapons and art. The crown jewel are the many paintings by Raja Ravi Verma, which was specially commissioned. Other structures within the premises include the Navlakhi Stepwell, the Moti Baug Palace, and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum Building.
Calico Textile Museum, 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 ancient and modern Indian textiles, there are some amazing pieces on display: double ikat fabrics in which the 100,000 threads have been individually dyed before weaving and shawls cashmere that took three years to make. The main textile galleries can only be visited in the morning. The afternoon tour takes you through the Sarabhai Foundation religious art collection and a textile gallery.
Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad
Built in April 1954, this museum, called the Museum of Knowledge, was designed by Le Corbusier. The building rests on its iconic 11-foot-tall pillars and is worth seeing for its architecture alone. It houses two museums: a kite museum and the City Museum, which presents the history of Ahmedabad since the 11th century through objects, works of art and historical documents.
Kite Museum, Ahmedabad
The center also houses the Kite Museum, initiated by Bhanu Shah when he donated his collection of kites to the Municipality of Ahmedabad. The museum presents an extraordinary collection of kites, papers used to make kites and illustrations/paintings. The collection includes mirrored kites, Japanese kites, printed kites, and a 16-foot-long kite that depicts the Garba.
Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery, Vadodara
One of Vadodara’s largest parks, Sayaji Baug (also known as Kamati Baug), is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri River. Built by Sayajirao III in 1879, it covers 113 acres and houses an impressive museum. Designed by renowned architect Robert Chisholm, the museum features 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 in the huge estate of the Lukshmi Vilas Palace, presents the works of art collected by the royal family over the decades. Admire European Renaissance and Rococo paintings and portraits, marble busts and an original collection of portraits by Raja Ravi Verma. Artifacts from different countries are displayed on two floors and a fully functional toy train – with the world’s smallest locomotive engine – which carried the royal children around 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 Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. Set amongst manicured gardens, the building has four wings. The central hall features portraits of Patel, his family, friends and colleagues during the Indian freedom struggle. His personal assets are on display while a room showcases Sardar’s early life, education and legal career, his camaraderie with Mahatma Gandhi and his work integrating princely states into India.
Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum, Ahmedabad
Part of the LD Institute of Indology, this museum is a repository of India’s multicultural heritage. The rich collection includes ancient and medieval sculptures, bronzes, manuscripts and miniature paintings, drawings, wood-carved artwork, coins, beadwork and 75,000 Jain manuscripts. Don’t miss the 6th century sandstone sculpture from Madhya Pradesh (the oldest known image of Rama), the Chola-style Nataraja and a Nepalese/Tibetan bronze mandala. It also has an art library and a conservation laboratory.
Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition Center, Ahmedabad
The vision of scientist and astronomer Vikram Sarabhai has translated into this child-friendly exhibition center. It showcases the progress of Indian space programs and includes engaging features such as a science playground, labs, workshops, science shop, and hands-on activities.
Khoj Museum, Ahmedabad
This kid-friendly learning center focuses on science, arts and innovation and offers exhibits, activities and challenges. There are two permanent exhibitions: A for Astronomy and Able. The interactive museum is a big hit with the kids.