Saturday, January 26, 2008

Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Pune

Last week we finally got around to seeing the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum here in Pune. My Lonely Planet book had great things to say about this spot and I didn't want to miss it. I'm so glad we made it. What a great spot. The museum is absolutely delightful, consisting entirely of the collection of one person, Raja Dinkar Kelkar. In fact, only 12.5% of the collection is displayed, which is fairly stunning - because it's quite a lot that they've got to show. The collection consists entirely of Indian art, mostly of the folk variety. Everything is represented - statues, vegetarble cutters, foot scrubbers, puppets, toys, instruments, paintings, furniture, doors, pillars, fabrics, saris, beaded decorations, weapons... it's quite stunning. It was a lot of fun, and also had quite a bit of helpful information in English, which we appreciated. The museum also had very lovely displays of their artifacts; like the entire recreation of an Indian porch - complete with carved pillars, embroidered door hangings, statues by the stairs, resting chairs... very evocative. Here are a few of the cool things we saw.

This was a puppet of some sort, which was displayed in the window so that we could see it... very cool.

Look at this! It's a hanging oil lamp, complete with vrsikasana (scorpion pose). The base would be filled with oil, and each little petal would have a wick in it... Too bad they didn't have replicas for sale in the gift shop!

Of course I had to take this picture for Musty and my dad... look at all these cool stringed instruments! Of all varieties, shapes, sizes and ages. Some traditional, some kooky, some old, some more contemporary. See the one shaped like a peacock in the back case?

If you are ever in Pune, I'd definitely recommend that you stop here. It's a neat place. I only wish they had a better gift shop! :) I sure do love a good museum gift shop, and they've got fantastic working material here...

After our visit, we went inside to ask where we could get a cup of tea nearby (to rest off the museum fatigue!), and we ended up having tea with the museum director in his office! That was a fortuitous turn of events. He is a very friendly and motivated person, and the grandson of the museum's namesake. He has been working hard at bringing the museum up to international standards, which is very cool. It was a nice opportunity to meet him, and apparently the tea was also great! (the tea here always has milk in it, so I don't drink it... but I do appreciate the joy of others!).

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