After a few minutes inside the Dandi Kutir Museum I was reminded of the museums in Sharjah and Dubai. I had seen such use of technology only in those places. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find such a modern museum closer home.
Dabdi Kutir is the world’s largest museum devoted to the life and teachings of one person, Mahatma Gandhi! As our group walked towards the building, the exteriors looked impressive and unusual! Our guide pointed out that the building resembled a salt heap to commemorate the Dandi Yatra led by Mahatma Gandhi!
We were given audio guides at the entrance, mine was in English. I have used audio guides in many museums in different parts of the world, the last one at the Palace of Versailles in France! But Dandi Kutir is a step ahead! There was no press one, press two here. The audio guide worked on the wireless, you just need to go and stand near an exhibit and it would start explaining about the event automatically!
The exhibits are divided in five parts and across a few floors, named The Early Life, Life in London and Back Home, Life in South Africa, Return to India and Satyagraha and Road to Independence! Even if done at a fast pace it will take 1.5 hours to go through the journey. I would say, plan for more time.
I got so engrossed in listening to the vairious incidents related to Mahatma Gandhi’s life that our guide had to bully me into moving forward. There are two scenarios in the museum that still remain with me, in spite of our lack of time and all.
In one scenario we board a train that Mahatma took for a meeting in UP. As you sit, you start to feel as if the train is moving and you are really sitting inside it! The second one is about a meeting in South Africa. All the visitors sit in a circle in the middle of the room and when the audio-visuals go off, you feel as if you are a part of that meeting.
The entry fee for Indians is Rupees 10 and Rupees 200 for foreigners. A lot of school and college going students visit the museum. If school kids start seeing such clean, well planned and executed spaces right in their backyards, they will probably start demanding it as a norm!
Even though photography is not allowed within the museum, we were given special permission to click a few pictures from the reception. That is how I got the pictures of the interiors. You can photograph the monument from the outside.
Visiting Dandi Kutir Museum was a surprise for me, I did not expect such a high-tech museum in my backyard! I hope to see more such world class projects in our country!
PS. I was invited on this trip to Gujarat Gujarat Tourism Board!
I had the privilege to visit the Bank of Thailand Museum, Bangkok on one of my trips to Thailand. It is the first central bank of any country that I have gone near to! The buildings are impressive. I could not capture the main museum building but the whole complex is made of former palaces!
What stuck me most was that to visit the museum one has to seek prior permission from the bank and it can be done only in groups. As I was traveling with Thailand Tourism Authority, New Delhi my permission was already sorted. The main palace (not in picture) where the museum is named Bangkhunprom Palace.
While we were waiting to be escorted inside I decided to click the beautiful premises. There were blooming orchids too but then I decided not to post them, after all this is a museum post and not a nature post! You see the trouble is that photography within the museum is not permitted.
The museum is divided into many rooms, 14 in all. It traces, what else, but the history of money. Some of it we are familiar with. Societies started with simple things like cowries as money. We graduated to metals and then the current form of notes.
To me what stood out was the concern of counterfeiting the currency and how measures were taken in various eras to combat it. I never really thought about the paper and the printing press and the country they were located in connection of money.
The custodian of the museum, the lady on my left was about to retire in a year after serving at the bank for more than 30 years! With the modern careers being what they are, I was quite impressed by the length of her service. It was an absolute privilege to meet her and visit the museum.
I remember The Museum of Floral Culture Bangkok for its fabulous flowers and cats! You read it right, the museum not only has an enchanting connection with flowers but also with cats. So, for cat lovers there is another reason to visit the museum. However, there are people like me who are slightly phobic to any animal, however small, harmless and cute. For them dealing with the cats could be the biggest challenge.
The Museum of Floral Culture is the brainchild of the famous Thai floral artist Sakul Intakul. It is located in the Dusit residential area of Bangkok. The building is a 100 year old teak mansion built in colonial style. They discourage photography inside the building but they would happily let you click outside. You can also click picture of the outdoors even when you are within the building.
The museum offers an insight into the role of flowers in the daily life of Thai people. They also highlight the influence of other neighboring countries on their floral culture, including India. Even though I am a big fan of flowers and I love to click flower pictures, I never seriously thought about flowers in our daily life or they way they are used in particular cultures. The area around the museum is equally beautiful. The back yard has a huge lawn, a beautiful pavilion and a lovely water body.
I guess all I could relate to them before the visit was at the reception of a hotel or in a garden. But they are really everywhere, in our weddings, celebrations, even funerals. They also highlight the different Thai styles of flower arrangements. I was quite awestruck by the style that resembled chandeliers! The museum offer workshops for flower arrangements.
I was most attracted by the orchids growing around the place. I saw some that were just hanging with open roots with no soil, nothing to go with the plant other than a frame. I was told that they survive on air and water spray!
The Museum of Floral Culture serves a wonderful tea if you care to stay back and order for it. We sat down and I ordered Vietnamese Lotus Tea which was most delicious. However, I had the the company of numerous playful cats which made me so jumpy and nervous. Actually there is a family idiom that ‘no one says no to tea in the Dwivedi family’ and I guess this was the only time I thought it was not a good idea. The fool that I am around animals, I just could not handle the cats. I was accompanied by the TAT Director, New Delhi, Runjaun Tongrut to the museum and I was doubly conscious that I was making fool of myself. But the nice lady that she is, she never said anything to me and has treated me most kindly ever since!
So, if are in Bangkok and you love flowers and cats do visit the Museum of Floral Culture!
PS. My trip to Thailand was sponsored by TAT New Delhi