In the mid-70s, An Indian anthropologist from Germany Mr. Jyotindra Jain was visiting Ahmedabad as he was appointed as an advisor in a new museum project. A local interior display designer Mr. Surendra Patel was hired to design the proposed museum’s interior.
Both were on a tour to Gujarat inquiring, buying, and collecting ancient artifacts. In one such tour Mr. Patel saw some classic brass, bronze, and copper being sold as scrap. On inquiring he found that the owners didn’t want them anymore in favour of the modern stainless steel vessels. Also, brass, bronze, and copper alloys were fetching rather a high price in those days, so the owners were encashing what they had inherited from their ancestors for some money.
He felt that those vessels had stories to tell for the generations to come. Stories of how their ancestors lived, how they cooked, and how they fed their families, and fellow citizens. He felt compassion for those artistic and classic alloy utensils and offered to buy them from the scrap collectors and from the metal factories. He spent a phenomenal amount but collected a large number of beautiful metal artifacts and vessels.
He told Mr. Jain that he would like to create a museum from those artifacts. Mr. Jain even cautioned him that the enthusiasm looks promising in the beginning but it’s not easy to establish and run a museum, and the enthusiasm could fade with time. However that caution did not deter Mr. Patel from collecting more and more such artifacts, and after three years of establishing the famous Vishalla he finally inaugurated the VECHAAR Museum – Vishalla Environmental Center for Heritage of Art, Architecture, and Research.
Mr Patel assured that the museum provides the visitors an experience of being close to nature and to the ancestral roots. The museum building was designed in vernacular Gujarati style amidst lush green surroundings of Vishalla. Both – the Vishalla premises and VECHAAR museum gives the visitor a feeling of being a part of a beautiful natural environment of rural ethnic Gujarat.
Since beginning the museum has seen impressive growth. Started with a few classic utensils it has grown to house more than 6000 rare utensils and artifacts made of steel, wood, brass, copper, bronze, clay, silver, and also gold. It is the first of its kind in the entire nation.
It has utensils from as small as a one-inch spoon, to as large as cooking pens with seven feet diameter. It has thousands of pots, kalash, surahi, and also locks of various sizes and shapes. The age of some of them can be counted in centuries.
With a view to give the visitors a feeling of not being in a museum, but to let them feel a part of the culture, and the history those vessels tell, Mr Patel didn’t make provision of a glass partition between the viewer and what is to be viewed. The concept actually has worked well and provides that feeling of being a part of history.
The environment is of course lush green, and natural, the beautiful Shiva temple in the forecourt gives it a touch of divinity. Lord Shiva is called Tryambakeshvar Mahadev. The Vishalla team offers regular puja rites to the lord. The alloy mask occasionally placed on the Shivalingam is also one and a half-century old, which Mr Patel has found in Nadiad.
Mr. Patel is truly blessed to have two everlasting credits to his name for the service of Ahmedabad, the city he believes is blessed. He managed to make two wonderful value additions to it. Like the famous heritage tour, VECHAAR museum also can take us to the glorious past of Gujarat.
Visiting VECHAAR can serve three purposes in one journey. We can have a great experience combined with a most delicious meal, we can visit an art exhibition organized at the Vishalla Art Gallery, and also visit the museum.
It’s a place we must take our children. It’s a place we must spend our day. Even though being within the urban borders of the fifth largest city in India, it takes us to the very indigenous Gujarat. Mr. Jyotindra Jain must be proud of his mentoring to Mr. Surendra Patel seeing the way the museum has grown.
Do come here. A one and only such museum is calling you with your loved ones.
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