Delhi ‘boasts’ of having the first ‘toilet museum’ of the world. Yes, you read that right and Metrolife brings you a closer look at this unique collection which is situated in Dwarka. Definitely a ‘first-of-its-kind,’ the museum has a rare collection of facts, pictures and objects detailing the historic evolution of toilets from 2,500 BC to the modern day technologies from around the world.
The museum gives a chronology of developments relating to technology, toilet-related social customs, toilet etiquettes and sanitary conditions of various eras. It also includes an extensive display of privies, chamber pots, toilet furniture, bidets and water closets in use from 1145 AD to the modern times. Add to this, there is an entire wall dedicated to awareness on sanitation through caricatures, posters and funny one-liners.
These facts and models are classified into eras and explained by curator Azaz Qamar Khan who describes the stages of how sanitation changed from Indus Valley civilization to present day technology such as the electric and electronic toilets and bio-degradable toilets which are also used in space by NASA.
The most interesting ones are the European style table-top, sofa seater and book shaped toilets. The sofa seater and table top were used to avoid inconvenience of leaving one’s work to use the toilet and the book shaped toilet was constructed by the French to demean English books such as those of Shakespeare! Then there are pictures of urinals engraved and decorated with expensive gems in the Victorian era! There is more. The museum has a photograph of a white elephant from Thailand’s zoo, sitting on a commode to relieve its care takers of the trouble afterwards!
The cutest is a small toilet shaped piggy bank from Japan which gives a sound of flush when pulled. Set up within the campus of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation at Mahavir Enclave, the museum is the brainchild of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who has been working in the field of sanitation for over four decades.
He is known to have taken up sanitation in India. But why a toilet museum? Dr Pathak recalls the time when he was visiting London and was asked to visit Madame Tussauds. “I have been to London many times but when finally I made it to Madame Tussauds it came to me to create something that will be exclusive in India. Since I have been working in the field of sanitation, a toilet museum made sense.”
The thought approved, execution began in 1992. The first piece that Dr Pathak finalised was a toilet in the shape of the throne of King Louis XIV. “I went to the toilet of a restaurant in Holland and saw this throne toilet displayed. I pleaded with the owner to give it to me but he denied so I got it photographed and got it made locally!”
And if you thought that the museum doesn’t get its share of visitors you couldn’t be more wrong! It keeps brimming over with tourists from around the world who are amazed to see something like this. Danielle Rapp, a visitor from Germany says, “I came to know about this unique place and decided to come here with my wife and kids. This is a funny place. I haven’t seen anything like this before. I am surely going to recommend it to my friends.” We agree, it is a must watch!