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Monday, May 08, 2006

Vithal Kamat dishes out history

<- : Vithal in his museum

The hotelier has set up an artefacts museum in the city
A hotelier with a museum? Vithal Kamat (of the popular South Indian eatery) is dishing out a treat of a different kind to Mumbaikars - a museum that houses his collection of Indian treasures.
“I’ve been an antique collector for the last 46 years and have travelled the world, but India has the finest culture and heritage. The city has given me everything and as a good citizen, I have to give back to the city,” says Kamat.
The museum is situated in Bandra (East) and houses 1200 artefacts. Most of his collection is in the basement of The Orchid hotel.
“We should take inspiration from some of these objects - with no facilities and in adverse conditions, our ancestors made such wonderful gadgets,” explains the chairman and managing director of The Orchid.

The collection is named ‘Aai’ (mother in Marathi). Kamat explains, “There are two connotations to this - Mother Earth and mother as in creation.”
From nut crackers, paan boxes, ink pots, etc, Kamat says his collection has only increased post the inauguration of his museum.
“I’ve got 85 more artifacts. Someone gave me a 120-year-old paithani saree; I’ve also got a 150-year-old silver scrubber. They know that in this way, the treasures won’t be unscrupulously sold,” he says and adds, “As a child, my neighbours were from princely families, so I got a lot of artefacts from them.” Maintaining his collection has been difficult, but Kamat has friends and family to take care of it.
“I’m passionate about this and rather than watching a movie in a theatre, I’d like to oil these artefacts in my free time,” he admits.

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