Museums in Delhi – Reflection of the Historical Past
Since very ancient times, Delhi has been the seat of power in India. It has seen the rise and fall of many great empires and ruling dynasties. The city traces its history back to the Mahabharata period when the famous War of Kurukshetra was fought between the estranged cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas for the city of Indraprastha which is supposed to be the Delhi of today.
Later on it was ruled by the Muslim rulers who came from such far off lands as Persia and Afghanistan. Qutub-ud-din started the trend followed by the Khiljis, Tughlaqs and then the Mughals. The city was occupied by the British in 1803 AD but it officially became the capital of the British Empire in 1911 when it was shifted from Calcutta.
After Independence, it was made the national capital. The city is sprawled over the west bank of the River Yamuna and is one of the most flourishing metros. Over the centuries, it has been shaped according to the various ruling dynasties. The architecture in the city bears testimony to its colorful and varied historical past. There are many monuments across the city which is remnants of the glorious days gone by.
Many of these historical monuments have been converted into museums so as to conserve and preserve this rich heritage. There are numerous museums in the city which depict the various facets of Indian lifestyle and its culture. Some of these have been in existence since the British Raj while others have been developed after the country gained independence. Some of these places are dedicated to the people who have resided here while others showcase the ethnicity and craftsmanship of Indian craftsmen.
Museums in the National Capital Region of India:
Air force Museum is located in Palam and traces back the history of the Indian Air force. The children love to visit this place as it has a vast collection of airplanes and armory on display.
National Museum of Natural History focuses on the ecology and the various galleries display a gamut of earth’s natural resources. A very educative experience for the children!
National Philatelic Museum is located in the Dak Bhawan which sits near Connaught Place. There is a special outlet for stamp collectors who can buy Indian stamps from here. There is a great collection of the stamps which have been issued over the years. It also houses the first stamp issued by Sindh Dak (1854) and also some which have been issued by the rulers of the Princely States prior to independence.
Teen Murti Bhawan stands to the south of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. This building was made in 1929-30 as part of the new Imperial Capital. Before Independence, it was the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. Later on it became the permanent dwelling of India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru till his death in 1964.
After his death the government decided to dedicate the place to his memory as it had become synonymous with his life and thoughts. Some of the rooms such as his bedroom, the drawing room and the study have been preserved as they were in his lifetime. The exhibits and the library give an insight into the personality and the thoughts of the great visionary.
Shankar’s International Doll Museum has a collection of nearly 6000 dolls belonging to 85 different countries as well as from India. Each doll is dressed up according to the region or the country they come from. One of the must see sites in Delhi.
National Rail Museum is one of the best places to visit in the city. This is a real treat for the train buffs and the children. Models of train engines and coaches are displayed. One should not miss the model of India’s very first train steam engine, which journeyed between Mumbai and Thane in 1853. These locomotives are exhibited in the open and there is also space to gather information about the history of Indian Railways.
Some of the royal saloons belonging to the erstwhile Princely States as also the British Empire are on display here. These saloons are worth taking a look as they have an elaborate interior design. One of the highlight of this place is the Fairy Queen built in 1855 and is considered to be the best preserved working steam locomotive engine of her age.