Vishalla prides itself on its presentation of Indian culture and tradition in its village-like environment with its museum of old utensils known as Vechaar. The museum found its way into Vishalla three years after Vishalla was itself started, on 27 April 1981. Vechaar is the only museum of its kind in the world, displaying such a precious collection of utensils. The designer of Vishalla, Mr. Patel, shares his success in the establishment of Vechaar with Mr. Jyotindra Jain, a well-known anthropologist. Mr. Jain fully supported and guided the cause and eventually helped in setting up the museum itself. His passion for the cause was so deep that his good work did not stop at that; he wrote catalogs for the museum himself.
A walk around the hut-like museum makes one’s heart skip a beat, marveling at the inimitable beauty of these utensils of old. These utensils have been handed down through the changing seasons and times, over the years. They speak of the unmatched art and genius of humankind during the days of old when people did not have the modern facilities of our times. The designer could not let our rich heritage pass with these vessels being lost in the fire kilns! He was determined to preserve them, and today, his dream is a reality in the form of Vechaar.
Establishment of the museum within the vicinity of Vishalla Village Restaurant is an effort to cherish and preserve the rich cultural heritage and rare artistic skills and wisdom of the craftsmen. The displayed items present an extensive study of utensils from thousand years old to present times, that have evolved over different periods of history as a result of our changing needs and environment. The range varies from leaves or a gourd jug, to modern stainless steel and glass utensils. The metal utensils cover everything from brass, copper, bronze, zinc to German silver.
Some objects from the collection are:
- Charu, a copper storage vessel from western India
This vessel of supreme sculpturesque beauty has a bowl-shaped base, a steeply tapering shoulder, a double-rimmed narrow neck and an inverted bell-shaped handsome collar with a pair of solid copper rings attached as handles. The charm of this vessel is enhanced by its clear and prominent joinery and neat staining of the surface. This multi-purpose pot was used for the storage of grains or water. It is also likely that the pot was used for hiding treasures under the ground.
- A brass pot for fetching and storing water
The bell-shaped pot has a broad base which helps in balancing when carried on the head while fetching water. Due to its unique shape, peculiar staining of the surface and chasing of parallel bands on surface, it stands out among Indian pitchers.
3. A Brass water bag from Kutch
This elegant water bag was constructed by hammering and joining cast brass parts together. Its conception, design and construction indicate that it was replicated in brass from an earlier softer material. Leather water bags of exactly the same design are commonly seen in desert areas of Kutch, Sind and Jaisalmer. The pointed joint of the neck to the bottle and the leaf motif in the centre are reminiscent of leather work. Similarly, the solid wooden stopper and base of leather bags, were replaced with heavy cast elements. Such ‘bags’ were carried by horse and camel riders.
- Karandio, a brass container from Gujarat
This container made of brass sheets hammered to the required shape has a cylindrical base and cone-shaped lid. The hook of the solid cast ornate latch is topped with a cast brass figure of a peacock. This object also formed a part of the dowry of a Kathi bride.
- Hukkah base, Black alloy and silver, Deccan
This late provincial Moghul base of a hukka has a fine inlay work of silver on a black alloy specially made for incrustation work. The motifs include extremely delicate creepers and flying birds.
- Hukka base, Brass, Northern India
The design of this typical hukka base, especially popular in Lucknow and northern India, is of Mogul origin. It is cast in one piece and has intricate geometric and floral patterns (rose flower) created by incrustation. Both the in-going and the out-going pipes pass from the opening at the top.
- Jyotindra, “Utensils-An introduction to the Vechaar Utensils Museums”, 2016