A date with some unexplored places of Delhi

Whenever we visit a Museum or a Memorial, we always wonder what compels us to visit such places. What do we hope to see? There are various kinds of museums in the world of your interests e.g. Art, Science, Cultural, Historical, Sports, as well as there are many other types of museums. When we go to a new place, these museums will always fascinate us, who are curious to know about the heritage and history of the city. Like all other cities in the world, Delhi, the Capital of India, also blessed with numerous museums which can be explored to know the city better.

We also know that all museums aren’t going to appeal to all people. The National Museum in New Delhi holds variety of articles ranging from pre-historic era to modern works of art, whereas the National Gallery of Modern Art is the leading Indian art gallery; Gandhi Museum is showcasing the life and principles of Mahatma Gandhi or National Rail Museum focuses on the rail heritage of India, so as others. But each visit at these places will leave you marveling at the creativity & beauty of each one of the exhibits.

When I came to Delhi, I worked as a trainee for few months in the Indian Express, one of the leading Newspapers in India. Then one fine day, I came across Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, which is very close to the Indian Express building in Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi. As a newcomer to the city, it became my favourite place for the next few months to spend some time. Even today, we do visit the place along with our child on a regular basis. This is the perfect place for the entertainment of children.  A Doll is a child’s best friend and I am not mentioning girls alone here.

The Dolls Museum was established by K. Shankar Pillai, a noted political cartoonist. He was once gifted a traditional Hungarian doll by the ambassador of Hungary & he instantly fell in love with it. As his fascination with dolls grew, he began collecting dolls from all around the world on his trips abroad. Soon he had a large collection and started holding exhibitions for children wherever he went. In one such exhibition,  Mrs. Indira Gandhi suggested that a permanent museum be made for the dolls. In 1965, a separate section was dedicated for the museum, spanning a huge area on the first floor of the Children’s Book Trust building.

Shankar's International Dolls Museum

Shankar’s International Dolls Museum

Dolls from every part of the world, depicting every aspect of the society and culture of a country, have been displayed, covering almost all the countries in the world. There would be close to 7,000 dolls on display from all over the world, from America to Africa; Europe to Asia. Each doll is beautifully dressed in costumes that represent the country or the region they come from.

There are two sections within the museum, the first one that showcases dolls from European countries, e.g. Germany, Hungary, Poland, the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Spain, Australia, Romania, France, the Commonwealth of Independent States while the second one holds exhibits from the Middle East, Africa and India. European dolls were the first to welcome you.

Near Entrance

Near Entrance

From life-size dolls to miniature ones, they were in various sizes. Most of these handmade dolls are of clay, cloth, wood, bone, leather, straw, porcelain, plastic, even terracotta. You will be amazed to see one 250-year-old doll from Switzerland, scenes from the Ramayana, Kabuki & Samurai dolls, Thai dolls depicting scenes from the Ramayana or the flamenco dancers from Spain, just to name a few.

There’s an exclusive section on Indian dolls. Here you can find dolls as brides and grooms from different states, a group of dolls showing how to wear a Saree (ethnic dress), step-wise, folk dancers from across India, scenes from mythology, history, Dandi March, Man on Moon, life size doll of a snake charmer and many more. Favourite dolls…that will be extremely difficult and I don’t want to differentiate. All of them are my favourite.

Photography is not allowed inside...

Photography is not allowed inside…

So, what are you thinking? The summer is already here in this part of the world…your kids are eagerly waiting for the long awaited summer vacation and have so many plans to enjoy their vacation like to attend summer camps, going to hills or sea, other places of their interests or also to go to their native places to meet everyone, so you are. You must also want to spend some  happiest moments with them in between. So, if you are visiting Delhi, you may plan to visit this museum as well and for Delhiites, even if you have visited the place during your school days, go with your kids. This Museum is a must visit for everyone who loves dolls and this write-up is also for those who are not, go fall in love with them and relive your childhood.

A visit to this museum would have a great impact in a child’s mind. There is a great educational value as well. Almost every country is inhabited by a people differing in manners and habits, language, religion, dress. Such visits will help them to know about different countries, to distinguish between individuals from other races, how very different they all look, to learn how people in different countries dress up during their festivals or their way of living.

These dolls are a visual delight and their expressive faces will definitely remind you to come back once again.

ps.: Photography is not allowed inside, hence you will have to go and enjoy yourself.

Delhi War Cemetery

If you still have some time, there is one unexplored spot near Dhaula Kaun. I heard about the place, but never thought to visit. While returning to Gurgaon, the idea to visit the place came to my mind since we have few hours in our hand. After identified the spot with the help of google.com, we proceed to Delhi War Cemetery.

Delhi War Cemetery

Delhi War Cemetery

Delhi War Cemetery

Delhi War Cemetery

The neat, beautifully landscaped and manicured lawns of the Delhi War cemetery are now home to the remains and memories of many soldiers who fought for the British Commonwealth, especially on the Eastern Front during World War II.

...and they live here forever

…and they live here forever

Neat, peaceful environment

Neat, peaceful environment

Delhi War Cemetery was created in 1951 to ensure permanent maintenance of graves from many cemeteries in Northern India. Graves were moved from cantonment cemeteries in Allahabad, Cawnpore, Dehra Dun and Lucknow, including 99 First World War burials from Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate in 1961.

They live here forever

They live here forever

Neat, green, flower filled cemetery

Neat, green, flower filled cemetery

An identical memorial stands in Karachi War Cemetery. No names appear on the memorials but a Roll of Honour at each site, one in Hindi, the other in Urdu, record the names of those commemorated.

We were deeply moved throughout our brief stay there. They died for a cause far away from their home and may not have believed in the cause but just performed their duty. At least here in this peaceful environment, they lie in green far away from their home, forever.

Reaching there:

From Daula Kaun, take the Ring Road in the direction of Naraina and proceed towards Delhi Cantonment. Exactly after 3 km, you will reach Brar Square traffic junction (adjacent to BASE Hospital). At present the crossing is blocked due to Metro Work, so drive another 1 km and take  ‘U’ turn from the flyover. Take a left turn over the railway crossing and after approximately 1km, you will find the cemetery on the right hand side of the road.  Don’t go there in the evening, as the road is almost empty and I would recommend going there in a group, if traveling with family.

 

25 Comments

  • SilentSoul says:

    War memorial is the place I have not seen yet despite being a dilliwala.
    tks for sharing

    • Tx SS.
      I just thought to include this, as I liked the enviornment. Tourists do visit the place and we have seen a few of them. It still remains one of the most unexplored places in Delhi, though.

  • PANKAJ RAI JAIN says:

    Strange. Being in Delhi for the last 53 years and working near Naraina I never heard of this place which so neatly maintained and of national significance.

    It is still more surprising that a man outside Delhi has discovered it. Thanx

    • :)
      Not many people are aware of this place unfortunately.
      You may find some international tourists at this place, who visit this place to pay their respect to someone close to their family.
      Tx you for reading this post.

  • Dear Amitava,

    I have been to Dolls Museum on two or three occasions. The collection is really good but I don’t feel any additions have been made during the decade. Moreover, last time I also got the impression that the colours have also started fading in some of the dolls.

    The photographer in me revolts whenever some museums and a lot of temples prohibit taking photographs. Dolls Museum is one such place.

    Thanks for thinking to include this museum in your ghumakkari. :)

    • Dear Sushant,

      Your observations are absolutely correct. I totally agree with you.
      We have seen some new dolls during our last visit in January, and I think restoration work is in progress as well. I have seen others taking photographs through Mobile or even digital camera, but even if I also want to revolt like you, but didn’t do that. This rule must change.

      It was pending since January and many a times I thought whether it would be good to publish it here. This post is particularly for outsiders, who may visit Delhi as a tourist with their kids – this may be useful for them.

      Take care, regards,

  • And yes, Delhi War Cemetery is something unknown to me and I have taken a note to visit this place during my next visit.

    As a matter of fact, whenever I go to Delhi, I have a list of ‘Work to Do’ there. Invariably, I return with one or two items yet to be attended. Ghumakkari is never in the list when I am in Delhi with the sad result that I saw Qutub Minar some 35 years before, Lal Qila and National Museum some 20 years ago, and so on. Neither the people I visit to in Delhi, nor my family members are ever in a mood to go anywhere. When I mention my desire to visit some place, they look at me with strange eyes. They are so ‘practical and worldly wise’ people!

  • If this post encourage you to visit the place, I would be glad.
    A pro will love to visit this place. The memorial is closed on Saturday & Sunday, but even if you visit the place on weekends, you won’t be disappointed, since there is no wall and only the fence, so you will have good view of the entire place from outside as well.

    The database of ghumakkar.com won’t disappoint people seeking for information, I guess now. I will try to do a series of Museums & Memorials, if acceptable.

  • Stone says:

    That’s an interesting post, usually such places (plus too obvious historical places like Red Fort or Qutab Minar, etc) are restricted to school-picnics and such, so as we grow older we tend to dismiss all those as childish places to venture out.

    @Amitava, Sushant sir – Thanks for bringing such places again to our attention.

    Regards,

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Both the places are unknown for me though I have worked at Bahadur Shah Zafar marg for 6 months and presently I cross daily dhaulakua on my way of office.

    Great work Amitva Ji.

  • Tx Saurabh.
    This could be a good place to be for at least 2-3 hours.
    Kids will love it and we won’t be disappointed at the end.

  • venkatt says:

    Amitava , looks like u have unearthed two little treasures worth visiting in Delhi. Thanks.

    • Thank you Venkat.
      The Dolls Museum is very famous place in Delhi, mostly with the children – just thought to share this with all of you, who doesn’t live in Delhi – only if I could manage to post few more photographs, this would be a treat for your eyes.

      Second one, yeah – not many are aware of this place.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thank you Amitava. Both are FOG (First on Ghumakkar). Dolls Museum has been there for a long time but ‘War Memorial’ is, I believe, is a recent thing. And I agree with your alert about the way, a lot of people have told me same thing. Look fwd to more museums and likewise.

    • Hi Thank you.

      It was pending for a long time – I was not sure whether to post or not.

      War Memorial is there since 1951 – though not many people are aware of this spot.
      The reputation of Delhi & NCR is not good for the all wrong reasons, hence we must avoid exploring such lonely places with family. It was scary for us too when we reached there, as we never thought of it before. Just hope things will improve.

      Tx for assuring me…they will be there in due course of time for all of you…have a wonderful weekends

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Please bring out more such Delhi places in your posts.

    I do not remember ever going to the Dolls Museum. In fact I was thinking of doing the rounds of museums in Delhi this summer. Maybe the zoo too!

    You did not mention Barbie. You really want to say the museum does not have Barbie!!

    The Delhi War Cemetry is a find. Are there such cemetries in eastern India like Kohima perhaps for the soldiers who died fighting the Japanese.

    Loved the post!

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Tx a lot Nirdesh…coming from you, the man behind such a lovely series on Delhi really feeling good.

      I will definitely try to bring a few more and there are ~1100+ ASI monuments in Delhi, and a tourists delight – you are already on the job…so leave something for me to explore and write….just kidding…

      Look forward to your next post eagerly…heard a lot about you from Vipin…

      Coming back to your query, yes, Kohima has a large cemetery of 1,420 Allied war dead, on the slopes of Garrison Hills, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I had seen a documentary in Discovery Channel, most probably, long time back…if you are planning to visit there, do share your experience. N.E. is a wonderful place to explore.

      do take care and have a wonderful weekends…

  • Vipin says:

    Reliving those childhood memories through your log, Amitava da! I can surely visualise those colourfully clad beautiful dolls exhibiting the cultural diversity in the world through their dresses…I had heard about Nicholson Cemetary, but this one is new to me too…thanks for sharing and keep them coming…

  • Tx Vipin.

    How was your Rajasthan trip…when you are sharing with all of us.
    That’s the objective to bring back our lost childhood whenever possible…we all miss it. May be you will remember a few things, friends with whom you lost all contacts and may put some extra efforts and try to find them.

    I will try to bring a few more here, so ‘FAM’ watch out this space…

  • Bidisha says:

    Thanks Amitava, you have renewed our enthusiasm to visit the museum. We attempted several times but always chose outdoor destinations as against the museum. Now over the weekends in this scorching Delhi summer, the museum would be a good visit when kids throw tantrums to take them someplace. War Cemetery is a complete discovery for us. Would make it our next group picnic destination. Nice read, good to know.

    • Thank you Bidisha for your kind words.
      Actually, there are many many things around us which can also be explored whenever we have some time and may not require extensive planning…

      Yeah, such places are also good during this summer in Delhi and I am sure children will love….and you…we will have a second write-up shortly on the place for sure – I just hope so

      War Cemetery – nice place for a short visit – I don’t think you will be able to do that as it comes under Army area and they will not allow such thing for a sure…but if you go in a group that will be better.

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Amitava Ji,
    very good post … i used to work near ITO some time ago …always saw this doll museum near Pearey Lal Bhawan..Many times i made up my mind to visit but always thought of a second time … thank you for introducing us to this wonderful place… As a child i remember teasing my sister by hiding her dolls /….i guess i can revisit nostalgia here …. Pictures of Delhi war cemetery are equally good

    Thank you

    • Amitava Chaterjee says:

      Thank you Giriraj and sorry for the late response.
      It is definitely be a place to revisit nostalgia and do visit the museum to relive those days, if possible ask your sister to accompany you too.

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