Published On: Tue, Mar 5th, 2019

Delhi Museums, Culture in Indian Capital

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When New Delhi emerged in all its colonial grandeur, there wasn’t a museum in sight but things have changed. Art galleries and museums have mushroomed over the past decades, attracting culture fans from all over India and beyond.

Delhi Museums, Culture in Indian Capital

Some venues specialise in specific themes, such as Tibet House or the Railway or Indian Air Force museums but pride of place goes to the National Museum, the National Modern Art Gallery and for many, Birla House, or Gandhi Bhavan.

Most museums are open from 10.00 am to 5.00pm, closing day is usually Monday. Higher entrance fees apply to non-Indians and there may be a charge for camera use and audio tours.

Culture in India, Modern Art Gallery in Delhi

The National Gallery of Modern Art was inaugurated in 1954 in Jaipur House, a former Maharajah residence in New Delhi. Today, the butterfly shaped building boasts an eclectic collection of 17 000 works from 1857 onwards, gathered from Delhi and art centres across India.

Among its prized exhibits are works by MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta and Amrita Sher-Gil. The collection is enriched by the permanent loan of over 1200 works from the Rasaja Foundation. Visitors can also see regalia from the 1911 Delhi Durbar and paintings by 18-19th century European artists who visited India, such as Tilly Kettle and William Hodges.

National Museum Delhi

India’s National Museum in Delhi holds two million items, spanning 5000 years from prehistoric archaeology to contemporary tribal art. Visitors are greeted by a five-tiered Temple Chariot, resting on six wheels and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Planning a visit is essential, the Harappan civilisation alone has 3800 exhibits from pottery to seals and tools. Other popular sections include Buddhist Art with painted scrolls, relics and ritual objects from across Asia, Indian miniature paintings on palm leaf, cloth or wool, modern Decorative Arts, such as silver filigree or ivory shrine, Indian textiles and Mughal and bridal jewellery.

There are coins and manuscripts, woodcarvings, weapons and musical instruments.

Gandhi Bhavan, Birla House in Delhi

Mahatma Gandhi spent his last 144 days in Birla House, now Gandhi Bhavan, where he was shot on 30th January 1948. In a garden fragrant with frangipani, a trail of reconstructed footsteps, lined with words of wisdom, leads to the spot where he died on his way to evening prayer.

Photographs and newspaper cuttings are exhibited in a shaded outdoor gallery and inside the house alongside various artefacts, such as bed and sandals. Visitors can watch video clips and film footage and there’s a children area with bright hands-on exhibits. A finely carved column lights up when people hold hands to symbolise unity.

It’s a moving site, also known as Gandhi Smriti, meaning remembrance.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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