Did it ever strike your mind that a place which relieves you of your tensions every morning by generously allowing you to place your bums to ease over it has a long drawn history behind it? or Have it ever crossed your mind who invented toilet flush which dissipates your waste with a gentle push? Do not feel guilty; it’s my strong belief that no one has ever wondered about these bizarre questions before the opening of “Sulabh International Museum of Toilets”, one of its kind, officially opened to public in 1994.
Some ancient pictures
Among the world top 10 “Weird and Unusual Museums”, the museum proudly exhibits the gradual evolution of toilets from squat type to present day fancy lavatories. It is an initiative promoted by Sulabh International Social Service Organization, a pioneer social group working in the areas of sanitation and hygiene in India.
History of toilets
As I entered the museum, I was greeted by the guide Mr Varun, who in a short and musical manner (his voice sounded rather musical) hurriedly covered the wide span of thousands of years in couple of minutes. During this short tour, most of the information passed much above my “dome” and I was left on myself to explore the history of toilets.
Some ‘toiletry facts’
On my exploration of the museum, I discovered that Indian Harappan Civilization were the pioneers in the creation of toilets contrary to my earlier view which credited the Europeans for it. It is also believed that pathetic sanitary conditions were mainly responsible for one of biggest epidemics of all time i.e. “Black Death” in Europe which wiped out nearly half of its population. I also became aware of the fact, that the inventor of flush John Harrington ended his career with this invention, because he was ridiculed among its peers for this absurd device. All the above interesting facts are displayed on walls of the museum along with many more quick snippets of “toiletry” facts, Aryan Code of Toilets, funny anecdotes, humorous quotes and pictures relating to toilets spanning across different eras. One can spends hours in this museum edifying himself with the history of toilets.
The Royal Fancy- Throne Shaped Toilet
The museum also showcases the replicas of different type of lavatories used across the globe in different times. The gem of all the replicas is the commode shaped in form of a throne purported to be used by French King Louis XIII who as per a hilarious anecdote is believed to defecate while holding court proceedings to save time (Quite a workaholic!!!).
Two Level Toilets from USA- Upper one for management and lower one for employees
Apart from these, one can find numerous others interesting and amusing replicas including a two level toilets used in USA with upper ones for management and lower one for employees, bookcase toilets (commode in shape of bookcase) spitefully named after famous English writers and poets, table tops toilets (lift the top to ease yourself and drop down to use as normal tables), beautifully decorated porcelain toilets etc.
It’s not only sofa, it’s a toilet
A table top toilet-put in down to enjoy a cup of coffee
The modern ones include solar toilets, Potta Potti toilets (Portable ones for picnics), electric toilets, biodegradable toilets used in expedition and trekking and the vacuum one used by NASA in space flights (Only photo available- most expensive toilet at whooping 19 million)
Latest in the line of toilets
Albeit, two decades have passed since the formal inaugural of the museum, it still remains unplumbed among the citizens and does not have much visitors to appreciate its existence. The guide (Varun) apprised me that the museum caters to a maximum of 10-12 visitors per day approximately and if a day is lucky, they might expect some school trips and college groups.
WHERE IT IS- SULABH BHAWAN, PALAM DABRI MARG, MAHAVIR ENCLAVE, PALAM, NEW DELHI, INDIA- PHONE -011-2503 1518
HOW TO REACH: It is located on Western part of New Delhi, India. If you are coming from Airport, it is feasible to hire a taxi for Sulabh Complex, Palam otherwise get down at Uttam Nagar East Metro Station and board a metro feeder bus service for Sulabh Complex.