On the 1st of November, whilst Karnataka changed into celebrating her 66th birthday, some other birthday party was afoot in Mumbai’s Byculla – the 177th birthday of the legendary Grant Medical College (GMC)

On the first of November, while Karnataka turned into celebrating her 66th birthday, another party became afoot in Mumbai’s Byculla – the 177th birthday of the legendary Grant Medical College (GMC). It become the first Indian dean of that institute, Major General SL Bhatia, a passionate collector of clinical books and artefacts, who bequeathed his complete collection to the St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, so that a museum on the records of medicine, the best one in all its type in India, could be set up in 1974.

The SL Bhatia Museum is one of numerous area of interest museums inside the city, all open to the general public, which includes a Brain Museum (1975), the Manjushree Museum of Packaging and Design (2009), the Indian Music Experience (2019), and the Rezwan Razack Museum of Indian Paper Money (2020).

All these current museums most effective comply with inside the proud way of life of the metropolis’s first actual, the Mysore Government Museum. That museum has been housed, due to the fact that 1877, within the wonderful neo-classical constructing, resplendent in Pompeian purple, on the Kasturba Road. Many Bangaloreans are familiar with the constructing, but very few have ever set foot inner it. A unhappy destiny for an institution that, until the early twentieth century, become famous a long way and huge as the Tamashe Bungalow – the House of Fun – and attracted as many as 400,000 traffic annually.

Although the concept of museums became installed in Europe by means of the seventeenth century, it became only in 1850 that south India got its first museum, in Madras. That museum, and its Bangalore counterpart, had been created of the vision and labours of 1 notable man – the Scottish medical professional, orientalist, collector and environmentalist Edward Balfour.

Born in 1813, Balfour came from a own family of old India fingers. His father become part of the East India Company marine carrier, and his maternal uncle, Joseph Hume, had labored as a health care professional in an navy regiment here before returning to England and turning into an MP. (One of Hume’s sons, Allan Octavian Hume, would be a part of the Indian Civil Service, and subsequently determined the Indian National Congress).

In the path of a fascinating existence, Balfour the polymath could write, as some distance again as 1849, authentic papers on weather alternate, turn out to be a public fitness expert, and translate the e book ‘Outlines of Midwifery’ into Urdu, other than sponsoring its Kannada, Tamil and Telugu translations. A fervent collector and classifier, he could also discovered the Government Central Museum in Madras, inviting participants of the public to ship in ability well-knownshows (‘We accept the whole lot!’). To inspire girls to visit the museum, sooner or later per week was set aside for them.

When Balfour was transferred to Bangalore in the early 1860s, the then Commissioner, Lewin Bowring, universal with alacrity his suggestion that a museum be installation right here as properly. In 1865, south India’s second museum was established, inside the premises of the Cantonment Jail (nowadays the Good Shepherd Convent on Museum Road – see why the street is called that?).

A decade or so later, with the museum having outgrown its premises, Chief Engineer Richard Sankey became referred to as in to layout an distinct building to residence it, which he did, in the same fashion as his different current building on the alternative aspect of Cubbon Park, the Attara Kacheri.

Today, a hundred forty five years after its founding, Balfour’s House of Fun is a dusty, desolate location. Despite containing such treasures in its collection as the Halmidi inscription, the oldest extant inscription in Kannada, dated to the fifth century CE, and the Begur hero stone, which references, as some distance returned as 890 CE, a city called Bengaluru, it fails to draw more than a couple of hundred site visitors an afternoon.

(Roopa Pai is a creator who has carried on an established love affair along with her native land Bengaluru)

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