A slice of history: The museums of Ahmedabad

The Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad
Image courtesy: ©Gujarat Tourism Board

Ahmedabad offers a heady brew of history and craft. Several interesting museums throughout the city have preserved some unique memories from the past.

Sabarmati Ashram

This ashram is a close representation of how Mahatma Gandhi spent a simple life and his presence pervades the rooms and galleries. His spinning wheel, writing floor desk, bedroom and kitchen are preserved just as they were along the banks of the Sabarmati River. The large complex includes a gallery displaying large paintings, sketches, blow-ups of his illegible scribbles and photographs.

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Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Museum

 

Image courtesy: ©Gujarat Tourism Board

The museum is a rich repository of Patel’s life as a political leader and thinker, while giving considerable space to other luminaries who crossed his path – namely Rabindranath Tagore, who stayed here at the age of 17, what stands out is the nifty use of technology for the interactive exhibits and clear, concise and well-researched audio-visual displays. Stay back and catch the 3D sound and light show, a breakthrough for museums in India.

Veechar Cultural & Heritage Museum for Utensils

The personal collection of the founder of the Vishalla Restaurant, the museum was set up in 1981 as a catalogue of utensils used across the country. A long U-shaped path runs along a rustic but tastefully decorated hall that is lined with urns, jugs, spittoons, pots and locks. Little anecdotes are doled out by a guide-cum-keeper of the museum.

Lokayatan Folk Museum

This museum, 3km west of the river in Bhudarpura, displays an impressive range of Gujarati folk arts, including woodcarvings, metalwork, embroidered textiles and unusual tie-dyed quilts. Included in the ticket is the Kalpana Mangaldas Museum, with festival masks and dolls from around India and even an elephant skeleton.

Sanskar Kendra

Image courtesy: ©Gujarat Tourism Board

The industrial aesthetic of Sanskar Kendra is immediately recognisable as the signature style of Le Corbusier. The modernist architect spent many years of his life here, shaping several public and private establishments. On the ground floor is the permanent exhibit, the Kite Museum. This small museum shares information about the past history and current passion for kite flying, a sport loved by the Gujaratis.

Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum

Part of the LD Institute of Indology, this museum houses a fine collection of ancient and medieval Indian art treasures, including stone, marble, bronze and wood carvings and 75,000 Jain manuscripts. A 6th-century AD sandstone carving from Madhya Pradesh is the oldest known carved image of lord Rama.
In the same building as the LD Museum, the NC Mehta gallery has an important collection of jewel-like illustrated manuscripts and miniature paintings.

Tribal Museum

A venture of the Tribal Research and Training Institute of the city, this is a blind spot on the itinerary. But if you are even remotely interested in the vibrant tribal life of the state, this will give you a quick orientation. The well-maintained museum is made in the form of tribal homes, where their features, dress and occupation are the main areas of focus.

Auto World Vintage Car Museum

Image courtesy: ©Gujarat Tourism Board

One of the most impressive personal collections of vintage cars, bikes, buggies and utility vehicles, Auto World is a delight for those who love wheels. Amongst the 300-plus menu of mechanical extravaganza, some noted ones stand out; the car that was used in the movie ‘Gandhi’ and the first Maybach ever made.

Calico Museum of Textiles

Image courtesy: ©Gujarat Tourism Board

The Calico Museum of Textiles has one of the most exquisite collections of handmade Indian textiles, some modern and some nearly 500 years old. These showcase opulent textiles and embroidery – from intricate Kashmiri shawls painstakingly made over three years to double-ikat cloth woven with 100,000 individually dyed threads. The museum offers an exclusive afternoon tour for a maximum of 10 people, taking you through the Sarabhai Foundation’s private collection of religious art, which explores depictions of Indian deities.