The Shankar International Doll Museum in Delhi India


Remember those silly fights with your siblings and friends, snatching, hitting, yelling at each over your lovely dolls or patiently combing its blonde hairs or requesting your mothers to make new miniature dresses or solemnizing their marriages with other dolls of your friends.


If you have enjoyed all this and want to cherish those unforgettable moments again or simply take your kids out somewhere, a visit to Shankar International Doll Museum in Delhi India is must.


The Museum set up by the famous cartoonist K Shankar Pillai, who developed interest in dolls when he was gifted one by the Hungarian Ambassador in early 1950’s and soon became a sweet obsession for him. The museum proudly exhibits the largest collections of costume dolls across the globe with 6500+ dolls from over 85 countries. The museum was formally inaugurated in the 1965 by then President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan.


The moment I entered the museum I was lost in the mysterious yet elegant planet of dolls of all shape and sizes. The dolls hailed from Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, many Commonwealth countries…the list goes on…It appeared to be worldwide summit with delegates in the form of figurines from all parts of the world. The figurines or dolls clad in the local outfits represented the culture and lifestyle of the country or region they hailed from and are handcrafted with clay, leather, wood, twigs and straw.


One can spot the dolls dressed in the costumes of renowned dance forms prevalent in particular regions and countries such as Flamengo in Spain, Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh, Kathakali in Kerala etc.


The extreme and minute detailing of the costumes, hairs, facial expression of the dolls made them livelier giving an exact glimpse of the culture and civilization to which they represent. My personal favourite section was the Samurai Warriors from Japan with beautiful embroidery on their costumes, carefully carved facial expressions and shiny miniature swords. Even the ladies from Japan appeared prettier than anyone else.



Apart from dolls from different countries, majority Indian states marked its presence showcasing their local vivid cultures, lifestyle, dance forms etc. Another section displaying the dolls representing the bride and grooms from almost all Indian states was truly commendable. The Bengali couple wearing the elegant “mukut”, the Muslim bride clad in embroider suit, Kerala men in silk dhoti, the tribal attire of Nagaland couple were some of the highlight.


While strolling through the museum, I also spotted dolls gifted by the bigwigs of the countries such as Madame Tito from Yugoslavia, Queen Fredrika from Greece, Queen of Thailand, the sister Shah of Iran etc.


The museum features truly an outstanding collection and specializes in something all us has pleasant memories in one form and another. So, it is highly recommended to engross yourselves in the captivating world of dolls at International Dolls Museum and cherish your childhood memories.

Note: Some of the photographs displayed in the post are taken from


Kaushal Mathpal
Kaushal Mathpal is an Advocate practicing in Delhi Courts in India but also has a flair for travelling. When he's not in a courtroom, he enjoys exploring various parts of India and the surrounding region. He also writes on his blog and you can follow him on Twitter @KaushalMathpal.
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