Mumbai’s Hidden Museums #3

Text contributed by Tamara Rasquinha (IG: @tamararasquinha), team Inheritage.

Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery

In the unlikely centre of the city’s business hub of Nariman Point lies a humble display detailing the life of an even more humble patriarch and his family of freedom fighters – an individual, personal history of the kind that has long been overlooked in the general narrative of the independence struggle. At the Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery,  photographs and handwritten correspondences trace the early life of his father Jamnalal Bajaj, the founder of the Bajaj family business. Key artefacts include rebellious letters  renouncing his inheritance and captivating photographs of Jamnalal leading a satyagraha defying a British ban on flying the national flag. 

Among the gallery’s many highlights, the photographs that struck me most are those of Jamnalal Bajaj, a wealthy businessman, opting to be a ‘C’ class prisoner and undertake arduous manual labour during his many jail sentences. An act that inspired famed anthropologist Verrier Elwin to pledge that he would walk barefoot until India received her independence. We learn also of the the non-bourgeoisie lifestyle practised by this wealthy Khadi-clad business family, which lay in sharp contrast to the luxurious lifestyles led by most wealthy business families at this time.

Discover these hidden faces and stories behind the fight for independence at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Gallery between 11:00 and 7:00 pm, Monday – Saturday. The space is free and open to all and strongly recommended for school groups in search of a more complex, layered engagement with modern Indian history.

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