One of the most recognizable landmarks in Mumbai is the Gateway of India. Look a little further and you will see another important landmark — the Prince of Wales Museum, which houses rare paintings and artifacts from the ancient Indus civilization, providing a glimpse into India’s glorious past. Many of the artifacts and archeological finds on display cannot be seen anywhere else in the country or the world. You will be astonished to see a one-of-a-kind collection of miniature paintings, the best and biggest in India. It has a total of 200 miniature paintings done by Manohar and other well-known artists in 1649. The paintings are based on the Akbar and Mewar Ramayana.
Also known as the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralay, the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai opened to public viewing in 1909. It was dedicated to the Prince of Wales. The structure befits an important museum since its unique architecture combines Gothic and Moorish architectural styles.
Inside the museum are rare ancient sculptures that were unearthed all over the state of Maharashtra including Mumbai. There is also a special section for the natural history of India. In this section you will see a diorama featuring a variety of animals, reptiles and birds depicted in their natural habitat. Two other galleries exhibit rare decorative pieces from different periods in the history of India and the Arms and Armor Gallery, which is the favorite of many. There is a wide collection of intriguing armors and weapons that were designed to be used offensively and defensively. Most weapons on display were from the Moghul period. In another section of the museum are rare ancient Indian wardrobes. The Prince of Wales Museum is truly a leading repository of Asian treasures since there is a gallery especially dedicated to artifacts and items representing the histories of Japan, China, Tibet and Nepal.
Other than already mentioned, the museum also features rare bronze statues and mannequins from 12th-century South India and onwards. In all, there are more than 50,000 items and artifacts on display, grouped into three major categories, which are Art, Archeology and Natural History. Most of the relics came from the periods of the Gupta, Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta.
The leading items for you to see in the Art Section are pieces from the art collections of Sir Purushottam Mavji acquired in 1915, from the collections of Sir Dorab Tata donated in 1933, and of Sir Ratan Tata donated in 1921. The most notable art items are the Dancing Krishna, palm leaf manuscripts that date back to the 11th and 12th centuries, ivory artifacts from the Gupta era, and other pieces of priceless jewelry.
At the Archaeological Section, you will be amazed to see different archeological finds such as very old sculptures, coins, epigrams, weapons, ornaments, weights and measures, and rare terracotta figures from Mirpurkhas dating all the way back to the 5th century.
Finally, the Natural History Section features the dioramas. There are realistic figures of flamingoes, Indian bison, Indian tiger and other Indian wildlife. With all these exhibits coming together, the Prince of Wales Museum is definitely a must-see when you are in Mumbai.