Visiting a museum is high-priority on our travel itinerary. Delhi has some of the best museums of the world in terms of size as well as collection. Many of these are popular sites while others are like hidden gems of Delhi. Delhi became the capital of India in 1911. However, the history of Delhi goes back much earlier and has been linked to the days of the grand Indian epic Mahabharata. In current times, Delhi is not only the seat of power but a hub of tourism in the country. The ancient culture of the city sits happily with urban India as we see today. Museums perhaps create the perfect bridge between the ancient and modern. In addition to the monuments, the temples, mosques and churches, the shopping and nightlife, Delhi has some of the best museums in India.
Museums open after coronavirus
While we spent the coronavirus lockdown fruitfully, we missed our favourite activities, one of which is visiting museums in Delhi. We have spent many afternoons pottering in the museums and indulging in time travel and filling ourselves with awe. Good news is most museums are open after the corona lockdown and they are not too crowded either. So, if you want to visit a museum, this may not be a bad time.
Below is a list of the museums of Delhi that we have visited multiple times and have been richer by way of experience every time.
The National Museum has a wide collection of Indian objects starting from pre-historic era to modern art. The museum is well-lit and the displays are spaced out so that the visitor can enjoy every item. They have guided tours as well in English and Hindi languages throughout the day. Alternatively, you can opt for the audio guide. The museum easily takes half a day and they have a small canteen that sells simple snacks and beverages. There is a moderate entry fee to the National Museum.
National Museum timing: 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Closed on Monday and National Holidays.
How to reach National Museum, Delhi: The National Museum at Janpath is virtually in the heart of Delhi and one can take a taxi or an autorickshaw to reach here. The nearest metro stations are Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan on Yellow Line. You can take an auto or taxi from either metro station.
National Gallery of Modern Art
If you are visiting the National Museum, you could couple that with a visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) which is in the vicinity. The spacious museum of art has an extremely rich collection of paintings and sculptures starting from old masters like Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Verma, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher Gill so on and so forth to contemporary creations by Ram Kinkar Baij, Satish Gujral, Mrinalini Mukherjee to post-modern works of Anish Kapoor. Traditional Indian artwork like Mysore and Tanjore paintings are also on display here. It is a large area and would take a visitor at least 2 hours to do a walk-through. Don’t miss the sprawling lawns that are also replete with beautiful works. There is a moderate entry fee to the National Museum.
National Gallery of Modern Art timing: 11 A.M. to 6.30 P.M. Closed on Monday and National Holidays.
How to reach National Gallery of Modern Art: NGMA is situated in the heart of Delhi and one can take a taxi or an autorickshaw to reach here. The nearest metro station is Khan Market on Violet Line. You can take an auto or a taxi from the metro station.
National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, commonly known as the Crafts Museum is a rich display of traditional handloom and handicrafts of India. Situated adjacent to Pragati Maidan in Central Delhi, it is a sprawling complex created in classical and folk architecture styles of India. The premises are segregated into distinct galleries – textiles, ornaments, utensils, paintings, votive elements, carriages etc. Terracotta Aiynar horses and other folks wall art adorns the courtyard. The museum store is surprisingly well-stocked with good quality Indian paintings and handicrafts. Crafts Museum is also home to Café Lota, a restaurant that serves fantastic fusion food. There is a moderate entry fee to the National Museum.
Crafts Museum timing: 11:30 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. Closed on Monday and National Holidays.
How to reach Crafts Museum: This place is walkable from Pragati Maidan metro station on Blue Line. One can take a taxi or an autorickshaw to reach here. They have limited parking so at times, finding a spot is difficult.
Sanskriti Museum – Anandgram
Anandgram is one of the first Delhi museums we fell in love with. It is a sprawling space with mostly single storey rooms that are divided into various galleries displaying arts, crafts, textiles and embroideries of India. The walks are adorned with Mollela tiles from Rajasthan and Madhubani paintings from Bihar. The museum is the personal collection of O.P. Jain and you sometimes find him roaming around on the premise interacting with visitors. This place has rooms for artists to stay in retreats and a pottery training centre. There is no entry fee.
Anandgram timing: 10 A.M to 5 P.M. Closed on Monday and National Holidays. This museum is still closed to the public on account of COVID 19 pandemic.
How to reach Anandgram: Anandgram is located on M.G. Road near Delhi Gurgaon border. You can take a taxi or drive since there is ample parking space here. The nearest metro station is Arjangarh on Yellow Line from where it is a long walk.
If you approach Connaught Place in Delhi from Baba Kharag Singh Marg, you get to see a gigantic steel charkha shining brightly atop a hillock. This is the Charkha Museum. Charkha or the spinning wheel is synonymous to the Freedom Movement of India. Gandhiji, Father of the Nation, made it a symbol of self-reliance. Spinning the charkha became a common practice among patriots in the pre-independence era. Many such charkhas in a host of sizes, shapes and designs using various technologies are now on display at the Charkha Museum. Along with the charkhas are a host of displays regarding Gandhiji, India’s freedom struggle and how to use a charkha. It is a small collection and you could cover this place in less than an hour. There is a moderate entry fee.
Charkha Museum timing: 10 A.M to 9 P.M.
How to reach Charkha Museum: Connaught Place, in the heart of Delhi, is one of the most popular places in the city. A taxi or an auto-rickshaw would take you and the Charkha Museum is at the centre of Connaught Place. The nearest metro station is Rajiv Chowk on Yellow line. If you come out of the A Block exit, Charkha Museum is a few minutes’ walk.
Sulabh Toilet Museum
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets is among the least known but most interesting museums of not only Delhi but also India. The museum displays fancy models of vintage and modern commodes used all across the world particularly Europe. Mobile toilets, as well as some modern toilets including portable toilets and tent toilets, are also on display. We found some interesting toilet and sewerage related trivia hung on the walls. They have complimentary guided tours as well. It was a moment of pride to know that the first toilets of the world were found in the Indus valley civilization. The museum can be covered in an hour.
Toilet Museum timings: Monday to Saturday 8 A.M to 8 P.M.; Sunday & National Holidays: 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. This museum is still closed to the public on account of COVID 19 pandemic.
How to reach Sulabh Toilet Museum: This place is situated in Mahavir Enclave and is accessible via taxis and autorickshaws. The nearest metro station to Mahavir Enclave is Palam on Magenta line.
The Kalam Memorial is a small museum dedicated to the memory of Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the beloved former President of India. Situated inside Dilli Haat, INA premises, the back gate or Gate No. 2 of Dilli Haat leads to the museum. The museum houses Dr Kalam’s personal items, fact boards about his works, gifts and tributes to him, and a beautiful Indian string instrument, the Veena, that Dr Kalam would play. It would take you less than an hour to cover the museum.
Kalam Memorial timing: 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. Closed on Monday and National Holidays.
How to reach Kalam Memorial: Kalam Memorial is located opposite to INA Market. Any taxi or autorickshaw can take you there. The nearest metro station is INA Market on Yellow Line and it is 2 minutes walk from here.
Rashtrapati Bhavan Guided Tour
This is another one for the President. Parts of the Rashtrapati Bhavan or the official residence of the President of India has been opened to the public. You can book a one hour guided tour that takes you to a museum-like display of amazing objects of art in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The architectural brilliance is mind-blowing and the sheer grandeur evokes awe. Reaching the entry point may take some time since not too many people; including local police has any clue about this part of the mansion.
Rashtrapati Bhavan timing: 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.
How to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan: The best way is to take a taxi or to drive. Have at least an extra hour on hand since the route in this part of Delhi is complicated and fraught with traffic jams.
Hope you enjoyed this literary travel through museums of Delhi with us. We got goosebumps all over again while collating the list. If you have visited any of these museums or any other museum that left an impression, do let us know in comments. Also, this is an ongoing post. If we visit any other museum, we shall update this piece so do keep visiting.