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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets

The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets is a unique museum that was set up in 1992 to educate people about the development of toilets through the ages

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Pradeep Chamaria
Pradeep Chamaria
I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

INDIA. Delhi: Have you read the stories about experiences in Delhi already? Let’s now visit and experience a unique museum, The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets that was set up in 1992 to educate the general public about the development of toilets through the ages.

Read Also: UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Delhi

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Yes, you read it right, a Museum of Toilets in Delhi, don’t miss it, it is so good that you will want to copy a design for your next home/toilet renovation.

Photo Credits: Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets

Let’s look at the history a bit

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A few years before Indian Independence, a six-year-old kid in Bihar, innocently asked her grandma why she was cleaning the walkway of his house after a lady who cleaned the toilets walked through it. He was quickly silenced. And one day when he touched the wet walkway, through which the lady had walked, he was penalised and made to swallow cow dung for purification and also take a bath in the holy Ganges water. From then on, he silently used to witness the discrimination of the scavenger community as they used to be humiliated.

He was a curious guy and tried to learn more about scavenging, sanitation, and untouchability – all of which were curses. The kid then grew up to be the Founder of the Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, a leading Sociologist, and a social activist. Today Dr. Pathak is one of the very few men after Gandhi, who has championed sanitation and uplifting of the untouchables as a mission of their life.

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Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, set up by Dr. Pathak is the only museum in India that represent history, and heritage, and which raises the concern of the sanitation sector in the country. It has toilets that belong to over 50 countries and is displayed into three categories namely Ancient, Medieval and Modern as per the age of the artifacts that were in use during the period of 3000 BC to the 20th century. Each aspect of the history of toilets, such as the technology, the evolving of social habits from then to now, the legal framework, and the etiquettes that changed with the coming of time is taken into account. The displays include chamber pots, privies, toilet furniture, Victorian toilet seats, water closets, and bidets between 1145 AD till date.

The first pour-flush toilet of the world used in Harappan Settlements, 2,500 BC, India

All the displays are accompanied by display boards detailing the history of toilets and their many uses. The most interesting display is the toilet pots made of gold and silver used by the Roman emperors. The sewerage system from the Harappan Civilization is also put on display. The museum details various facts about the development of toilets from the Indus Valley Civilisation to Europe.  

The museum is listed in the list of weirdest exhibits around the world. Times magazine has ranked it in the “10 museums around the world that are anything but mundane.”

Decorated Lion – Pedestalled Ceramic Commode of 19th Century.

Toilet museums at other places in the world

Yes, you have a few other museums of similar nature but of a smaller magnitude. And when you are done exploring Delhi and its experiences, you can plan to visit them as well. And they are:

  • Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets, Prague, Czech
  • Mr. Toilet House, Suwon, South Korea
  • Toilet History Museum, Kyiv, Ukraine 
  • Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum, The Colony, Texas (now moved to  Dallas, Texas)

In Datong District, Taiwan, they even have a restaurant called The Modern Toilet Restaurant. It really is a crappy restaurant where you have to pull up a porcelain bowl to enjoy your meal. You get your meals in a mini potty or a tiny bathtub, and your drinks in a urinal-shaped glass. The restaurant is so popular that it has opened chains at several locations scattered throughout Taiwan and Hong Kong. They have plans to soon open a few more in Shenzhen, Malaysia, and Macau.

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