Visit to Toilet Museum

Some months back I visited the National Museum in Delhi. It is a place with sculptures and stories of people from Harappan civilization to the present world. A detailed description of my visit can be read here. But when we discuss about evolution of humans and their civilization, an important aspect of civilization was left untouched in that wonderful museum. The aspect was on how did the people defecate and did we observe a marked change and evolution in our etiquettes and toiletries over this period? To find answers to these questions and learn associated stories, I went to the Sulabh Toilet Museum in Delhi today.

The Sulabh organisation coincidentally celebrated its 52nd anniversary only yesterday. Sulabh has given India a revolutionary movement in providing public toilets all across our country. A topic that usually is not well discussed because of no sophistication involved in it, has extremely beautifully embraced by Sulabh organisation. Public toilets are almost synonyms to Sulabh Toilets in India now.

The toilet museum is displayed in almost a room of 500 square feet. It is a small area but with all the vital information regarding how toilets developed from Harappan era to the modern day advanced toilets for submarines, space stations, etc. Ironically it gives a breath of fresh air to our knowledge and awareness about toilets and their evolution. There are charts that display what were the toilet etiquettes ascertained in Hinduism and inscribed in Manu Smriti. There are also photographs of drainage systems and toilet sheets of Indus valley civilization. Apart from these, there are some interesting and funny anecdotes as well relating to toilet sheets in modern world history.

For instance an anecdote from 18th century regarding British and French rivalry has an episode of toilet as well. After the bitter experience of loosing from Britain in the first world war, the French made a toilet sheet placed over the classic English literature Macbeth, to symbolise their disrespect to Great Britain.

Symbolic representation of the French toilet

There is one toilet which is literally a royal toilet. King Louis XIV of France, suffered from acute constipation and thus had a commode built under his throne. While the king preferred to eat in privacy, he chose to ease himself in public while addressing the people in his court.

A replica of the royal toilet seat of King Louis XIV
Models of various toilets and their cost of installation. There is a lot of innovation in architectural design while maintaining low cost as well as providing the much needed privacy.
A replica of a comfortable leather chair cum toilet used in Victorian clubs in England.

All this and a lot more is on display at the museum. And as always museums are only and only fun, if there is a guide who can inform you about the various things. Today we were guided by Miss Narjis Ali, a very articulate young guide and very interactive as well.

No call is more important than nature’s call! Today I had a visual tour on how important this call has been, since forever.

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