Coming soon: Ulhas river basin’s history in a museum

A Thane-based trust is bringing 6,000 sculptures, fossils, artefacts and ancient stone tools under one roof at Titwala

mumbai Updated: Jun 17, 2018 00:32 IST
Sajana Nambiar
Sajana Nambiar
Hindustan Times
Ulhas River,Ulhas river museum,Titwala
Shells of molluscs, corals, oysters and clams found at the mouth of the Ulhas River on display at the Titwala museum. (HT Photo)

There’s more to the Ulhas river basin than what meets the eye. Apart from the river itself, which is a source of drinking water, there is a plethora of tangible historical, social and cultural heritage of the area. And the Ashwamedh Pratishthan in Titwala is bringing it all inside a museum and research centre that will be open to the public soon.

The museum will have a wide range of archaeological and geological artefacts collected from areas around the Ulhas river basin, including sculptures, fossils, and ancient stone tools and measuring equipment. The trust plans to display 6,000 such objects under one roof.

To feed the curiosity of its visitors, the museum will also have a research centre, stocked with 10,000 books, to provide extended notes on its collection.

“We have collected these artefacts from different places for the last 18 years. At times, we have purchased them and sometimes, people have donated it to the trust. Some of the artefacts are around 1,000 to 2,000 years old,” said Avinash Harad, founder of the Ashwamedh Pratishthan.

The museum is located in the seven-storey Uma Deep building, near the historic Ganesh Mandir in Titwala. It will comprise of six sections dedicated to different themes or topics.

As visitors enter the museum and into a 40-seater auditorium, they will be shown a primer on the importance of the Ulhas river basin. There will be workshops and other activities if they are interested in knowing more about the subject.

Next up is the archaeology section which will have some artefacts that are around 2,000 years old.

“We found a milestone of the Ambivli railway station at a house in Wadavali village, where it was used for household chores. The stone, probably from the 1870s, has a mention of the rail-route distance. Such stones were placed at every station before they were established. We managed to convince the house owner to give us the stone. People usually do not understand the importance of such things. Some keep it safe with themselves but they forget there is a need to preserve them,” said Harad.

A section dedicated to showcasing the biodiversity of the Ulhas river basin includes preserved specimens of various scallops, invertebrates, reptiles, flora and fauna, and minerals from the Ulhas River and across Maharashtra.

There is also a section that displays a collection of everyday objects (from households and offices) from centuries ago: metal weights, stamp papers, household equipment, lights, keys and communication devices.

“One can see telephones and radio sets from the olden days. These items cannot be seen anywhere now,” said Deepak Jadhav, 27, a member of the trust.

The Ashwamedh Pratishthan’s museum initiative is being supported by the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). Last year, the civic body granted the present premises to the trust for an annual rent of Re1. But the entire project is estimated to cost about R25 lakh. “We want to start the museum this year and we are findings different ways for funding. If people are willing to fund the museum, it will be very helpful to us,” said Harad.

The trust will also display items of historic significance in the possession of individuals if they are willing to share them. “Such historic items need proper care in order to be preserved for a long time. We are ready to preserve them and individuals can approach us,” Harad said.

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 00:32 IST