The collection at Kelkar Museum, Pune

posted in: Asia, Culture, Heritage, India, Maharashtra | 38

My last post on the Mastani Mahal at the Kelkar Museum saw tremendous interest and response from all of you and as promised there, here is my account on the rest of the Kelkar Museum. To start with, let me introduce this museum to you. It has been in Pune for quite some time now and houses over 2500 artifacts from a vast collection of 20,000. This was Dr. Kelkar’s private collection and he finally, donated them all in the name of his late son – Raja Kelkar. The collection is now managed by the Department of Archaeology and is actually, housed in the erstwhile home of Dr. Kelkar.

The museum is home to artifacts dating back to 14th century and is well curated. It is a testament of the glorious art and culture that prevailed in India. For me, this was a great way to imagine how people went about their lives in those days. My post today is more of a photo-journey –  a voyage that is likely to take you back in time, remind you of what tools people used, how they traveled and the customs and traditions that followed. So, here goes, the highlights of my visit to the Kelkar Museum.

1) Unique Idols at the Kelkar Museum

Meenakshi Idol at Kelkar Museum
Meenakshi Idol at Kelkar Museum

This statue of Meenakshi that you see, is symbolic of a woman’s beauty and fertility. It is said that Lord Shiva was so enamored by her beauty that he married her. Her eyes are said to be perfectly shaped like fish, her lips are full and here in this statue, she is in a typical tribhang pose – that is her body is arranged in three angles.

Panchmukhi Maruti
Panchmukhi Maruti

Besides the Meenakshi, there were several other statues that arouse a curiosity like this Panchmukhi Maruti (5 faced Maruti). The other one that had some familiarity and looked unique was that of an evil crusher – Yali.  I recalled seeing some of the Yali structures, carved on the temples of South India- like the Vellore temple and the Lepakshi temple.

2) Beauty Care of the by-gone era

Kelkar Museum

We use a plastic foot-file for our heels but I do think that the Vajri depicted here, was a far prettier tool. 🙂 What is more, is that there is an entire collection of different types of Vajris. Take a look below.

Vajris on display at Kelkar Museum
Vajris on display at Kelkar Museum
Vajri at Kelkar Museum
Vajri at Kelkar Museum

Besides the Vajri, the museum also, showcases various types of combs, nail and skin enhancers and jewelry used in those times.

Some of the Jewelry of Kelkar Museum
Some of the Jewelry of Kelkar Museum

3) Lamp Gallery

In times when electricity did not really exist, fire was used to light up the nights. The ingenious and decorative lamps of those age-old temples, palaces and homes are indeed mind-blowing. I loved the variety here and this for me, was one of my favorite sections of the Kelkar museum.

The Ancient Lamp arch with a statue of Mahishasurmardini at Kelkar Museum
The Ancient Lamp arch with a statue of Mahishasurmardini at Kelkar Museum
Side view of the Lamp Arch
Side view of the Lamp Arch

The picture above was an entire arch full of small oil diyas. One can imagine how gorgeous it must be looking, with that golden glow of fire.

Lamp at Kelkar Museum
Lamp at Kelkar Museum

A statue of a man, with a huge oil diya. Possibly kept at the ancient door-ways or corners.

Hanging Lamp at Kelkar Museum
Hanging Lamp at Kelkar Museum

Hanging lamps – they really, don’t make them so well  now. The variety back then, was just amazing.

4) The Kitchen equipments

Besides, the vessels, this section also, showcased the various kitchen tools, used in the 17th and 18th century, like this coconut grater.

Coconut grater at Kelkar Museum
Coconut grater at Kelkar Museum

Or these vegetable cutters

Vegetable cutters at Kelkar Museum
Vegetable cutters at Kelkar Museum

Spices that were so integral to our cooking were stored in some of these ornamental boxes. Gosh, now you can only find jewelry boxes like these 🙂

Spice Boxes at Kelkar Museum
Spice Boxes at Kelkar Museum

And surprise, surprise! The Noodle maker 😀

Noodle maker at Kelkar Museum
Noodle maker at Kelkar Museum

5) The artistic doors and ceilings

Ceiling preserved at Kelkar Museum
Ceiling preserved at Kelkar Museum

I seriously, think that with modern age, our art is getting buried under the excuse of convenience. The best of art existed in homes back then and now, they are only found in the museum. Check the ceiling above. It tells you the story of Lord Vishnu resting on his lotus bed, with Nagkanyas (snake ladies) surrounding him. while Lord Brahma keeps him company.

The separate doors gallery was another story all together. The time and effort that must have gone into making them is admirable and it felt so good to see them preserved. Check out some of my favorite ones.

Exquisite Doorways displayed at Kelkar Museum
Exquisite Doorways displayed at Kelkar Museum

The picture below has a special mention. Called as the Ras-Leela Door, this one is from Nathdwara, Rajasthan and depicts the beautiful tradition and culture of Krishna Leela on the door with its pictures.

The Ras Leela door at Kelkar Museum
The Ras Leela door at Kelkar Museum

6) Transport used back then

The draw carts and the palanquins in the different sections of the museum give you an insight into how people moved about back then.

Cart at Kelkar Museum
Cart at Kelkar Museum
Palanquin at Kelkar Museum
Palanquin at Kelkar Museum

7) Entertainment and Games

Kelkar Museum showcases the different puppets that were and are found in various parts of India like these ones are from the South India.

Leather Puppets from South India at Kelkar Museum
Leather Puppets from South India at Kelkar Museum

The Ludo and chess boards are such a variety. I wonder, why we have stopped making these. 🙂

Unique Chess Pawns at Kelkar Museum
Unique Chess Pawns at Kelkar Museum

Add to them, the gallery of musical instruments. It amazed me and even made me wonder, if these were meant to be for music or were they just gorgeous pieces of art.

Artistic Musical Instruments at Kelkar Museum
Artistic Musical Instruments at Kelkar Museum

The most popular section in the museum right now, is the Mastani Mahal – an account of which merited a separate post. Just in case you have missed it, you can find it here.

What I have shared is just a glimpse, a mere skimming of the museum. If you are an art, history and culture lover, you are likely to find each exhibit here mesmerizing and half a-day may not seem enough. Me? I did spend sometime here, but I know I will be going back for more. Somehow, this museum, left me with a feeling that I had not seen it all.

Kudos to Dr.Kelkar – for sharing his private collection and allowing us to imagine what our past history was like. Drop in your comments below to let me know what you think of this art and cultural museum in Pune. According to me, definitely one of the must-do things in Pune.

Kelkar Museum

Getting here:

  • Kelkar Museum is in the city of Pune, which is well connected by road, rail and air to all the major cities in India and in some cases, abroad. You can visit the Kelkar museum by any of the public transport options available in Pune – bus, cab or an auto rickshaw. The exact address to the place can be found here.
  • Kelkar Museum is in the heart of the city and is quite close to Shaniwar Wada. You can combine your trip to include this attraction too.

Travel Tips:

  • Here is the official website of the museum.
  • The Museum is open on all days, between 10 am to 5:30 pm. The museum entry fees are INR 50 for adults, if you are an Indian and INR 200 for a foreigner. Camera charges are extra and are at INR 150 per camera.
  • The museum has five sections and is quite well-curated. There are plenty of sign-boards that point you to the history and details of the exhibit.
  • Keep aside enough time for the museum. It can take you anywhere between 1 hour to 3 hours to see the entire museum.
  • The museum has rest-room facilities.
  • There is no parking available near the museum. Also, the approach to the museum is a one-way.

My other posts on Pune:

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38 Responses

  1. Ami, I did my PG from Pune way back in 2004-2006, have been coming in Pune on and off and lately have shifted here since 4 years now. But some of the posts you have written, like this one, makes me wonder why I didn’t even think of exploring ??? Honestly, Shaniwarwada wasn’t that great, I didn’t find it clean, no guidance on what is where and today it looks like a garden meant for college boys & girls for their “personal activity”. Compare this with say Red Fort of Agra & Delhi both and you see the difference. But Kelkar Museum is definitely worth a visit, your post is fantastic.

    • I agree with you Shaunak. Shaniwar Wada can be made better – better signs, better maintenance, it is an amazing bit of history. I wish the authorities would note the same . At the same time, we too, must not give up on it 😀 . Kelkar museum was just amazing. Was good to rediscover it again.

  2. Very nice post ..

  3. Every single piece on display is so unique and beautiful!! The kitchen equipments are really amazing, truly reflects on the artistic masterminds of old times

  4. My husband (the family cook) would have loved the kitchen section. My late best childhood friend, the lamps. Me, I just like looking at things different from the things of my everyday life here in the United States.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Ami. Beautifully written. Married to Pune’ite, never got chance to visit this museum.

    • Thanks Seema and maybe the next visit to Sasural will have you visiting this museum

  6. A very interesting place. Would love to visit it in my next trip to Pune. Amazing captures 🙂

  7. The lamp archive is just amazing…. wonderful pictures… 🙂

  8. Would love to visit this Museum, what a great collections, nice cover up Ami ji.

  9. Great museum. I really love all the intricate details in the displayed art. I’m surprised at how elaborate the foot smoother was. Wow!

  10. That’s a lot of interesting stuff out there! Wow! Am sure you had a great time 🙂

  11. Ami, very nice post. You look pretty in that picture. I am going to be visiting Pune soon and will try and visit this place.

  12. very interesting collections..

  13. Excellent post, Good work Ami, the Collection is eally interesting and joyful!!

  14. Wow! That vajri styles are so good and that jewelry too. Artifacts are a depiction of the time gone by and museums do a good job of saving them. Pune has got a rich history and there are so many unexplored places. Thanks for sharing, Ami.

  15. What a gorgeous collection!

  16. Wow, that is quite an impressive collection. I feel like I have visited due to the great narrative and photos. Thanks for sharing this special place.

    • Thanks. Though I think you should see in person. I have not even scratched the surface 😀

  17. Great to know about the Kelkar Museum! I have never been to Pune but keep making a mental list of things to see when I read your blog.

    • Thanks. Pune is a lovely cultural and heritage destination. Definitely worth visiting once

  18. Wowww what a great collection Ami! Thanks for showing all this to us. I love to collect and explore antiques So, I think this post for me. Everything at Kelkar museum seems beautiful. The unique chess pawns are really unique, I have never seen this kind of pawns earlier. The doors and ceilings are also very beautiful 🙂 🙂

  19. Ooh nice to know I can combine this with visiting Shaniwar Wada as well

    • You sure can. If you fancy a walk, it is doable. Along the way, you can enjoy a bit of street shopping. Else, just take an auto 🙂

Would love to know what you think