Gargoti Mineral Museum

A hidden gem ♦

This article is part of a longer story on Delhi’s museums.

Dark, mysterious purple amethysts, spiky crystals of chalcedony, rheumy quartz and brilliant blue cavancite line the shelves. It’s not hard to imagine a sighting of the Virgin Mary or an Om within all this lustre (there are, in fact, many gods carved out of ruby or anthracite on display). What we didn’t expect was a Sheru calcite. The block of yellow mineral from Aurangabad was dolled up with plastic eyes, whiskers and a tricolour ribbon in honour of the Commonwealth Games last year. Far more dignified are the 65 million-year-old fossilised dinosaur egg and bones from Dahod, Gujarat. The region was home to Rajasaurus narmadensis (a T. rex-like dino) and it has one of the largest dinosaur hatcheries discovered anywhere in the world. Not that the display tells you this; nor the fact that that these eggs are often sold illegally.

Much is also up for sale at the Textile Ministry’s National Handicrafts Design Gallery & Museum, “curated” by Gargoti, a museum franchise owned by a mineral mining company. Rare gems and more common crystals are labelled “Museum Piece, Not for Sale,” but these cards have prices on the back. The rocks rub shoulders with handicrafts from all over India – mostly National Award-winning pieces. There are some beautiful and wondrous things: minutely-detailed cane weaving; a gorgeously life-like clay pumpkin with its stringy innards faithfully reproduced; a polished slice of a meteor; bits of the Moon and of Mars.

Gargoti Mineral Museum National Handicrafts Design Gallery & Museum (Earth Treasures), Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan, Third Floor, Baba Kharag Singh Marg (+91 11 6470 0053). Rajiv Chowk. Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun noon-7pm. Free.

Read more about Delhi’s museums.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, September 2011.

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