A 200-year-old jacket that belonged to a Peshwa minister; a wall made of blocks used for printing; a village like space dedicated to India’s fabric traditions. These might seem like disjointed bits of information but look closer and you’ll find a thread that ties them. These are all pieces of the complicated Indian textile jigsaw. And you can find them all at these lesser-known museums and spaces dedicated to this country’s textiles. If you’re often overwhelmed by the lyrical quality of fabric, these are for you.
Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad
The definitive (and the most extensive) museum for any textile lover was opened to public in 1949. Spread over multiple galleries, the museum in Ahmedabad has an exhaustive archive of not only age-old textiles and handicrafts from India but also materials used to create the same. A wall with blocks used for printing on fabric is especially striking. It is thus a necessary stop for both textile enthusiasts and research scholars.
Address: The Retreat, opposite Underbridge, Shahibag, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Opening Hours: The museum only has guided tours from 10.30 am to 1 pm (Entry between 10.15 and 10.30 am). Entry is by prior appointment only and restricted to 20 visitors. Call +91-79-22868172, +91-79-22865995
The Sanskriti Museum of Textiles, Delhi
Calm in the middle of chaos. The museum with multiple galleries is as interesting in its outdoor areas as inside. The textile collection is a glimpse into various Indian crafts traditions – consider it a sneak peek for what actually exists.
Address: Anandagram, Mehrauli Gurgaon Road, New Delhi (nearest metro station is Arjangarh)
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday – Sunday (Closed on all public holidays)
Crafts Museum, New Delhi
Go here for the village-inspired design, even if you don’t go for the textiles. The National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, better known as the Crafts Museum in New Delhi, has an indoor gallery and outdoor corridors, both used to exhibit India’s rich craft traditions. The dedicated Textile Gallery at the museum has new exhibitions every so often, celebrating a different region of the country. When you’re done, enter the charming Café Lota that’s in the compound, and order everything on the menu.
Address: Bhairon Marg, New Delhi, next to Pragati Maidan
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
Textile Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
The formidable museum in Mumbai – as known for its exterior as its collections – added a textile gallery in May 2015. Instead of just a token nod to textiles, this gallery is very well curated with a mix of stitched and unstitched fabric as well as photographs. The gallery also has incredible pieces that belonged to Nana Phadnis (1714 – 1800), a Peshwa minister as well as a jhabla-topi worn by Jamsetji Tata for his sixth day ceremony on March 8, 1839.
Address: Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai
Opening Hours: 10.15 am to 6 pm, open all days except national holidays
Cover image by sanskritifoundation.org