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One of the very important reasons why people visit a museum is to understand the art, history and culture of that particular place. Museums usually exhibit worldwide phenomena such as war, science, automobiles and arts, but rarely would you come across one that displays toilets of the world!
Working on Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of sanitation, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak set up the Sulabh International Toilet Museum, located in Mahavir Enclave of the West Delhi area. It’s said to be a one-of-its kind museum in the world. The other arm of their NGO is working on various sanitation programmes across the world and social and economic liberation of manual scavengers. This museum showcases the evolution of toilets - from the most ancient civilizations to the very contemporary toilets of the present age.
A First Of Many
As explained by the museum guide, Mr Joshi, “Unlike other evolutions of the world, the evolution of toilets is curved; our system hasn’t totally evolved yet.” He explained that during ancient civilizations like Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Taxila and Lothal, the toilet system was well developed; in fact, India was the first country in the world to have toilets in their homes.
During the medieval period, sanitation became worse with acts such as throwing of waste on the streets, with Persia and London having fallen under the spell of a deadly disease like the plague, also known as the Black Death. Even today, many countries like India and Pakistan are still struggling with sanitation-related problems.
On seeing the various stages in the evolution of toilets as depicted by the pictures hanging on the walls, you feel a sense of excitement to see how interesting and thought-provoking a topic such as sanitation can be and the amount of time invested by people on it.
Amusing AF Sights
At times, it makes you laugh and certainly takes you by surprise to look at the toilet designs from various countries of the world. Some masterpieces include floral designs and toilets in the form of a chair from Europe, a toilet shaped as a wooden chest and the throne of King Louis XIV of France with a concealed commode – it’s an eye opener indeed! There are also delightful anecdotes about famous people from the past, for instance Emperor Akbar used to remain in his toilet for an hour; or, that Roman Emperor Heliogabalus and James I of England were both killed in their toilet complexes.
An Interesting Story
There’s also an interesting story about Thomas Crapper being the father of plumbing and holding nine patents for the improvement of plumbing and drainage; hence the word - crap! You can find several poems, stories, jokes and phrases on toilets from various times; the presentation of words is quite humorous and intellectual.
The other part of the museum showcases how innovatively people have changed the designs and mechanisms of toilets according to the needs of the modern world. There are designs for toilets in space, submarines, treks, posh hotels and restaurants; you would be amazed to see how science has changed everything, including toilets.
This museum vividly brings to the forefront societies which have learnt lessons from the sufferings of others in the field of sanitation, and is definitely a must-visit - even if just for laughs!
Where | Sulabh International Toilet Museum - RZ-83, Sulabh Bhawan, Palam Dabri Road, Mahavir Enclave, Sulabh International Social Service Organisation
Timings | 8 AM - 8 PM (Monday - Friday), 10 AM - 5 PM (Saturday & Sunday)
Call Them | +91 11 2505 3646
Entry | Free