Shankar's International Dolls Museum, is situated inside the building of the Children's Book Trust on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi .The interiors of the Museum, is disserved into two equal halves. The two segments have over 160 glass cases, measuring in length, 1000 ft., are fixed onto the walls. One division displays items belonging to European nations, the United Kingdom, the U.S.A, Australia, New Zealand, Common wealth of Independent States , while the other section, contains costume dolls from Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa and India. Some enchanting special exhibits, teams up with the more than 150 types of characteristically Indian costume dolls , manufactured at the Dolls Workshop , linked up with the Museum.
Indian dolls, molded at the workshop are offered as gifts , in lieu of the presents received from foreign countries. They are also meant for sale to the collectors and museums in India and overseas. Each and every doll is an outcome of deft handicraft and detailed study on physical features, attire, ornaments, depending on the character, it personifies.
Quite expectedly, the dolls of workshop of Shankar's International Dolls Museum, grabbed the First prize-Golden Peacock Feather-at the Dolls Biennale, that took place in Cracow, Poland, in 1980. The awesome gift of a single doll, that Shankar got from the Hungarian Ambassador in the early fifties, to be distributed away as a glorious prize in the Shankar's International Children's Competition, patronized the Museum's repertory of costume dolls. Shankar's passion for the fine art of doll-making was ignited with this piece of artistic excellence . The amazed Shankar Pillai, procured the sanction from the venerated Ambassador, and retained the doll for himself.
Henceforth, the enchanted soul, K.Shankar Pillai, started to quench his new thirst for collecting costume dolls, during his every visit, abroad. This man of pre-eminence, Shankar was a member of the group of journalists, associated with the Prime Minister of his time, Jawaharlal Neheru. Hence his flying away to foreign lands was a frequent happening.
Within a short span of time, Shankar gathered a massive collection, of about 500 dolls . Then, he took the resolution to demonstrate these aesthetic instances, in several parts of India. He also brought to prominence the resplendent paintings, done by talented children, the budding artists of the nation. However, the packing and unpacking of dolls, executed often and on, incurred soiled the quality of the artifacts, the dolls.
Later, in an exhibition, conducted in Delhi, the visiting Chief Guests, Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, Shankar , expressed their worries regarding the harm suffered by such exquisite artistic dolls, a national pride.
The sagacious Indira Gandhi, proposed the setting up of a permanent museum for the unhoused, delicate dolls.
Inevitably, when the Children's Book Trust , came into existence, a part of that structure was devoted for the construction of a unique doll's museum.
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India , and a towering man of letters, presided at the inauguration ceremony of Shankar's International Dolls Museum, Delhi, in 1965.Dr. S.Radhakrishnan, bestowed the name of 'Nehru House'on the building , after the late Prime Minister. The Museum started with a thousand dolls.
It is interesting to note, that between 1965 and 1987, a plethora of gifts, amounting to an additional five thousand were incorporated into the treasure-chest of Shankar's International Dolls Museum, Delhi. In the recent times, the Doll's Museum, has attained 6,500 , marvelous testimonials, from around eighty-five countries . Shankar's International Doll's Museum, Delhi, tops among the list of priorities, charted out in the travel plans of the visitors of Delhi.
The visiting hours scheduled is 10 am in the morning till 6.00 pm in the evening, excluding the provision for lunch break. The entrance fees prescribed are Rs. 10/- for adults and Rs. 5/- for children. There are systems of special concessions for children, coming in groups of 20 and more . They are allowed to luxuriate in the romantic word of Dolls House of Shankar, just at a mere rate of Rs. 2/- per child. The ticket counter closes at 5.30 p.m. in the evening.
The Museum has been acknowledged international acclaim. U. Thant, the Secretary General of United Nations of that time, Madame Tito of Yugoslavia, Queen Frederika of Greece, the 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 commissions from different countries, had arrived from time to time, to enjoy the breathtaking beautiful array of costume dolls, diligently, acquired and preserved by the , mastermind, K. Shankar Pillai.
The over brimming spree for designing a wonderland of costume Dolls, in Shankar's International Dolls Museum, Delhi, has immortalized his name as the biggest provider of children's entertainment and pure joy, in Indian history.
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