Recalling the evocative tales of India’s tragic past, the Partition Museum in Delhi houses memorabilia in the form of photographs, sculptures, audio-visual and virtual-reality stories and art for generations to revisit. From recreating the train journeys during the time of migration to sharing stories of hope and courage, the museum takes one through an emotional rollercoaster.
Replicating the story of India’s partition, the museum displays painful details of people losing homes, lives and an overall sense of belongingness, leading to showcasing the courage of the survivors by rebuilding their new lives and homes in the capital city.
The museum located on the Ambedkar College campus, in Kashmere Gate, opened its doors to the public on May 20, 2023. With this museum, The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TAACHT), an NGO, has launched India’s second Partition Museum in India. The first one opened in Amritsar in 2016.
The unique aspect of this museum and memorial is that it focuses not just on the partition of India but also on stories of people who uprooted their lives and settled in Delhi during and after 1947.
The museum is housed in a restored historic building — Dara Shikoh Library Building (DSLB). Built between 1639-1643, the DSLB was initially a mansion owned by Dara Shikoh, the eldest of four sons of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. And the Mughal prince, who had a keen interest in philosophy, maintained a small library here. Over the centuries, it changed hands several times. Subsequently, it became an office of the Delhi State Archaeology Department. It is now a part of the Ministry of Culture’s ‘Adopt a Monument’ initiative, under which TAACHT and the Delhi government established the Partition Museum and a centre for cultural activities to preserve and promote Delhi’s heritage.
The building has seven galleries, which comprise the museum, capturing events from when the partition of India was announced to migration and resettlement in Delhi. One more gallery, ‘Lost Homeland of Sindh’, to archive the tragedies of the Sindhi community is currently under development.
The building also has a cultural centre, The Cultural Hub (also known as Dara Shikoh Museum cum Auditorium), which will soon feature musical events, theatre and other cultural activities. A café and souvenir store are also being set up within the premises.
This gallery takes visitors back to the period from 1900 to 1947. It has all the artefacts and memorabilia of the events that led to India gaining Independence from British rule.
It has a model train compartment featuring an open trunk that has clothes and accessories donated by the survivors. Drops of red paint on the ground depict the killing of thousands of people who had boarded these trains in the hope of saving their lives and starting afresh.
In this gallery, artefacts, such as ration cards and newspapers, are on display. One can also find a joint India-Pakistan passport that was issued during the partition.
These three galleries focus on refugees and their colonies that later became housing societies, such as Punjabi Bagh. Gallery 6 is of Hope and Courage, where people have shared images of revisiting their homes in Pakistan and even bringing back some of their belongings to keep as memories of the place they came from.
Address: Dara Shikoh Library, Lothian Road, Mori Gate, Delhi 110006
The museum is open on all days, except Mondays, from 10 am to 5 pm.
Entry to the museum is free; however, to ensure there is no disturbance to the students on campus, the museum allows only a limited number of people to visit in a day. Enter visiting details here to get a free token for the museum visit.
(Hero and feature image credit: Ayushi Anand)
Answer: There are two partition museums in India. One is in Amritsar, and the other is in Delhi.
Answer: One can spend three to four hours at the Partition Museum in Delhi. Visitors can read, watch and listen to survival stories of the partition victims.
Answer: Visitors are not allowed to click pictures inside the museum.
Answer: Yes, visitors must pre-register on the website and not click pictures inside the museum.
Answer: Yes, kids are allowed in the Partition Museum in Delhi.
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