Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay, Mumbai
The building was initially built as the residence to the Prince of Wales who visited India in 1904. After his departure, the building was turned into a museum to promote the arts and crafts of India. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay is one of the largest museums in India and is known for its extant collection of artifacts and archeological findings that provide a view of the country’s history.
Exhibits of Asian artifacts, decorative arts, paintings, sculptures and taxidermy are housed within the halls of a beautiful Indo-Saracenic palace.
Visit Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), a magnificent museum showcasing art, archaeology and natural history from across India and Asia. Among the museum’s 50,000 artifacts are ancient ceramics, decorative arts, figurines, paintings and sculptures. The site opened in 1922 as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India. It was renamed to honor Shivaji, founder in the 1600s of the Maratha kingdom.
As you arrive, notice the museum’s striking Indo-Saracenic style building. Designed by British architect George Wittet, it blends British, Hindu and Islamic architectural features. Check out the arches, domes and spires. The finial atop the largest dome is modeled after that on Agra’s Taj Mahal. Take a moment to admire the tall palm trees and pristine lawns.
Inside, explore nearly 20 large and well-presented galleries with objects from India, China, Japan, Nepal and Tibet. Spot centuries-old sculptures from the Elephanta Caves and other Indian archaeological sites. See relics that originate from the Indus Valley Civilization, Gupta and Mauryas periods and displays of Asian birds, mammals and reptiles, including a white tiger.
Admire the collection of decorative arts made from ivory, metal and wood, among other materials. Check out Chinese and Japanese antiquities and a fascinating gallery of Indian weaponry. Don’t miss the oil paintings by European artists such as Daniel Maclise and William Strang. Browse galleries dedicated to antique coins, miniature paintings and textiles.
CSMVS is on the southern edge of Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda district. Use public buses, tuk-tuks or taxis for easy access to the museum. It’s just a short walk from major city attractions such as the Bombay High Court, Gateway of India and National Gallery of Modern Art. The bustling clothing, handicraft, jewelry and book stalls of Colaba Market are also less than a 10-minute drive away.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is open daily, except select public holidays, and has an admission fee. Pay an additional fee if you wish to take photographs. Rent an audio guide, free for international visitors, which provides commentary on the museum’s exhibits. Visit the excellent shop and outdoor café. For full details, see the museum’s official website.