Pune, often referred to as the "Oxford of the East" due to its rich academic heritage, is a city that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity. Beyond its bustling IT hubs and educational institutions, Pune is also home to a treasure trove of cultural and historical gems waiting to be discovered. One of the best ways to delve into the city's vibrant past and diverse culture is by visiting its museums. Here, we take you through some must-see museums in Pune that offer a fascinating glimpse into the city's history, art, and heritage.
Created out of the one-man collection of Dr DG Kelkar, or Kaka, as he was affectionately known, the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum is named after his son, who passed away well before his time. Kaka was obsessed with art, so for over 60 years, from 1920 onwards, he travelled across the country collecting artefacts. An optician by profession, Kaka also wrote poems under the pseudonym Adnyatwasi. The museum has a collection of about 22,000 artefacts that mirror the everyday life of India. Objets d'art in stone, wood, metal, ivory, fabric and clay was collected and preserved with the task of giving the arts and crafts of India the recognition they deserve.
You will see lamps, palanquins, tinware, combs, bowls, hookahs, locks, spittoons, musical instruments, miniature paintings, glass paintings, lime containers, intricately carved wooden doors and windows, ancient dwellings, nut-cutters, figurines of bronze, arms and armour, kitchen utensils, and textile, etc. The replica of the Mastani Mahal is a must-see. Bajirao Peshwa I built the original for his beloved consort, Mastani.
Tribal Cultural Museum, formerly the Adivasi Cultural Museum, was established in 1965 under the Adivasi Research and Training Institute Pune. The museum has a total of 1,359 tribal artefacts on display. It is divided into five major sections Dr Govind Gare Art Gallery, Tribal Literary Culture, Tribal Art Gallery or the Bohadaya Masks and Bamboo Crafts Gallery, Tribal Jewellery and Deities, and the Replica of Tribal Huts, in the open premises. The museum has classified the tribes into four geographical regions Konkan, Marathwada, Gondwana and Satpura. You can enjoy the Warli paints by Padma Shri awardee Jivya Somya Mashe, along with Bohadaya masks of the Warli and Konkan tribes, Dokra art or lost wax technique idols of tribal gods and goddesses, and the carved wooden or fruit-seeded tobacco boxes, and wooden fanis used by Madia Gonds as a token of love, and much more.
Travel through time to glimpse the history of bicycles at the Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum. A private museum, the museum's three-storey building, was created in 2017. It showcases the huge personal collection of cycles acquired and restored by the owner, Vikram Pendse and his friend Pandurang Gaikwad. More than 150 vintage bicycles, tricycles, tandems, trailers, and pedal cars are from the past 100 years. There are also collections of the spare parts and accessories of a bicycle. Vikram Pendse has been collecting since 1995, and his first was the 1940s' BSA paratrooper used during World War II. You will also see antiques of lamps, typewriters, glassware, locks, irons, clocks, radios, sewing machines, weighing scales, etc.
This particular museum launched in 1998, is located on the premises of a private factory which makes train models. A unique hall of 26x26 has been constructed to house Joshi's Museum of Miniature Railways. The founder. BS Joshi, or Bhau Joshi, has been obsessed with collecting train models since he was a child, and his entrance with toy models of trains led to the first exhibition of his models' layout in 1982 in Gokhale Hall. By 1984, the layout had been displayed in Mumbai. To avoid the extensive and back-breaking work and expenses required to exhibit in far-off places, Bhau Joshi created the permanent Museum of Miniature Railways. Nearly 1,000 wires at the control panel, 65 signals, fences, lampposts, flyovers, etc., have all been made by hand. The private factory exists because Bhau Joshi wanted to produce train models. Still, a lack of a market for them led him to open a factory, which, for a long time now, has been producing train models exclusively.