The Mastani Mahal was undoubtedly the pièce de
résistance and the principal reason for my visit to the Raja Dinkar Kelkar museum.
The museum itself is housed in a quaint Rajasthani-style building on an improbable-looking side-street off Bajirao Road. A prominent “Photography strictly prohibited” sign puts off the tourist-historian in me. The building itself looks dignified with carved teak wood door frames everywhere, recovered from palaces and mansions in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamilnadu. Even the elevator entry doors and the little snack shop outside have teak artifacts.
Mr. Kelkar apparently found the Mastani Mahal, lying forlorn in the wilderness of Kothrud. He had his technicians dismantle and transplant a whole section to its present location in his museum on Bajirao Road.
The intricately carved suru(cypress) wooden pillars, charming murals and rich furnishings evoke the fairy-tale atmosphere of the boudoir of Bajirao’s beloved Mastani.