Two things that make Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat, famous amongst tourists is its rich textile heritage and its connection to the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi. Offering a glimpse into Gandhiji’s life, the Sabarmati Ashram is located on the western bank of the Sabarmati river. For textile lovers, the city houses The Calico Museum of Textiles on the other side of the Sabarmati river. The museum which was once a cloth merchant’s mansion now showcases a significant collection of antique and modern fabrics.

The Calico Museum: Origin

Founded in 1949 by the industrialist Gautam Sarabhai and his sister Gira Sarabhai, the Calico museum was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This specialist museum provides great insights into the historical and technical study of Indian handicrafts and industrial textiles. A must for people wanting to know more about the city’s emergence as the hub of the textiles. Do not forget to include a visit to this museum located in the Shahibaug area once your Delhi to Ahmedabad flight lands.

Attractions at the Museum

The Calico museum holds a major attraction for lovers of handmade textiles. The major attractions of this museum include

  • Textile Collection– A visual treat for textile lovers, the museum showcases the world’s finest collection of handmade textiles that are up to 500 years old. Also, on display are beautiful pieces including, robes of Shah Jahan, handmade Kashmiri shawls that were made over three years, and double-ikat fabrics whose 100,000 threads were individually died before being woven. The main textile gallery is open for visitors only in the morning.
  • Artifacts- Apart from showcasing the finest and the most comprehensive textile collection, the museum is also famous for its collection of South Indian bronze artifacts, Vaishnava picchwais, Jain art, and several miniature paintings. Visitors can also view ancient manuscripts and mandalas printed on palm leaves.
  • Literature– The museum also offers a lot of literature on the textile industry and its journey over the years. Also available are black and white photographs, colour prints of some objects, and reproduction of selected pieces on cloth and paper. Do not forget to purchase some of these pieces before you board your Ahmedabad to Delhi flight.

Plan Your Tour in Advance

The Sarabhai Foundation conducts a daily tour of the museum but does allow entry to children below 10 years. The museum is open to the public on all days except Wednesday and public holidays. Since only 20 visitors per tour are allowed it is advisable to book your place four weeks in advance.

Pre-registration for the guided tour that starts at 10.30 AM and ends at 1.00 PM is a must. The booking can be made on or by calling at 91-79-22868172/22865995. The museum also requires you to submit your full name, phone number, email id, home address, and profession.

Preserving National Heritage

A unique thing about his museum is that the level of illumination in the galleries of this museum is quite low. The aim is to preserve the national heritage for posterity since bright lighting can result in the deterioration in the colours and the quality of the textile materials displayed here.

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Micah Leif