Welcome to mini United Nations

Welcome to mini United Nations

In this fast-paced world where most bypass the need for a playmate, the Shankar’s International Dolls Museum stands as the lone sentinel reminding one of the love of dolls that most of us have borne during childhood. Sleep eluded us every night unless we clutched our favourite doll next to us.

Fights erupted when a friend suddenly showed more interest in our pet doll and our parents encouraged us to share the same with them! Possessive behaviour manifested itself every time someone presented us a doll on a birthday and jealousy walked besides us if someone else was given the same.

And no matter how old we got tobe, the love for dolls stayed put as each was placed next to the older one, until a collection was built up over the years. But this remained a personal passion.

It took the vision of a K Shankar Pillai - the celebrated political cartoonist and an author-illustrator of children’s books to envisage a museum dedicated to dolls. The idea had occurred to him when he had received the gift of a doll to be given away as a prize in a competition. This fascination made him collect costume dolls from all over the world. Today those dolls, numbering over 6,500 from 85 countries (and counting) are housed in this museum which is also known as the mini United Nations!

Located on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, this museum has two sections. The first has exhibits from European countries, the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and the second contains dolls from Asian countries, West Asia, Africa and India. There are also special displays besides a representative collection from the over 150 kind of authentic Indian costume dolls made at the Dolls Workshop attached to the museum.

The workshop dolls are exchanged for gifts received from abroad as well as sold to collectors and museums in India and abroad. Each doll is handcrafted after meticulous research into the physical attributes, dress and jewellery of individual characters.
Shankar’s International Dolls Museum is listed in the itinerary of all visitors to Delhi.

Some of the important dignitaries who have visited the Museum and recorded their appreciation are U Thant former Secretary General of UN, Madame Tito of Yugoslavia, Queen Frederika of Greece, Queen of Thailand, the sister of Shah of Iran, the wives of the President of Mexico and Indonesia, of the Prime Ministers of Poland and South Korea and the UN Secretary General and cultural delegations from many countries.
Metrolife met T R Dhananjaya from Bangalore who had come with his grandsons to visit the world of dolls.

“These kind of museums are really helpful for children as they learn about different costumes, dresses, face-cuts and body-type of people of the world. It definitely revives the dying habit of playing with dolls.”

The museum which attracts most visitors during summer vacations is equally busy with activities rest of the year too as schools get their children to visit the museum. Another little one who was really excited to see so many dolls under one roof, shared, “I am loving these and I hope my father buys me some,” said Amit Kumar, a 3-year-old who came with his parents.

Truely a world for children, this international museum is housed in the building of the Children’s Book Trust and occupies a floor area of 5184.5 sq. feet. It is open from 10 am to 6.00 pm without any lunch break.

The entry fees are Rs 17 for adults and Rs 6 for children. Children in groups of 20 are charged at a concessional rate of Rs 3.37 per child. The ticket counter closes at 5.30 pm. It observes Mondays as weekly holiday, besides three national and festive holidays.

We might some day forget K Shankar Pillai but these smiling dolls will never fade from our memory because each of us has a child in us still!

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