Karla Caves and Celebrity Wax Museum have ranked high on my list of must see places in Lonavla. The latter had more of my attention since it was our very own Indian Madame Tussauds. A wax museum in India and so close to Mumbai had me eyeing this location for a really long time.
We started at 7:30 am from Mumbai and reached Lonavala by 9:30 am. Before we visited the wax museum, we chose to visit Karla caves. The idea was that when heat gets a bit harsh we would conveniently be inside the museum under cool air condition temperature, leisurely walking pass life-like celebrity wax sculptures.
We arrived at the museum at around 12:30 pm. Distance between Karla caves and Celebrity Wax Museum is barely 8 km or 15 min. The museum has been marketing itself wonderfully with big flex banners on the highway while driving towards Lonavala. This could be one of the reasons we witnessed a large amount crowd at the museum (well! apart from it being a Sunday).
Celebrity Wax Museum is the brainchild of Sunil Kandalloor. His first such wax museum was set up in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu in 2005. He followed this up with similar museums in Thekkady, Kerala and Lonavla, Maharashtra.
Inside Celebrity Wax Museum:
Just at the entrance inside the museum you see a wax model of Indian cricketer Kapil Dev. That same area also has models of Shivaji Maharaj (Maratha ruler), Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Indian politician) and Mahatma Gandhi.
The main hall has several wax sculptures of celebrities – some international, some famous Indians and some locally famous. My disappointment was with the fact that the artist should have concentrated on very prominent personalities only. It would be okay if they were only Indians but at least those celebrities need to be universally famous. Some celebrity choices for wax models are influenced by the artist’s personal liking for that celebrity. Sample this: A not so famous Indian Bollywood actor like Jackie Shroff, an MLA from Kerala, a Malayalam feature film actor and some local politicians.
And yes! Not all wax models are perfect looking or completely resemble real life celebrities such as the sculpture of Sathya Sai Baba – an Indian guru and Mother Theresa. The sculpture of Charlie Chaplin looked sad and depressed, and Angelina Jolie would cringe if she saw her wax statue.
To give the artist credit, there are some very good sculptures that appear life-like and the best among those are Anna Hazare (local political activist) and Narendra Modi (Indian Prime Minister).
Number of sculptures inside the museum are not too many. Visit duration, even if you chose to click photos with every wax celebrity, would last no more than 45 minutes. On crowded days, clicking photos with these sculptures without having other visitors appear in the corner of your picture is a task in itself.
In terms of infrastructure, size of the museum is a little bigger than a banquet hall. Walls have lost paint in some corners and I did mention this in their feedback, along with costly ticket price for a small scale museum experience.
Yes, the entry charge to Celebrity Wax Museum was Rs. 100 per person, which I found a bit expensive. On the plus, they allow photography without an additional charge. They have a car parking facility in the museum premises and a small cafeteria cum canteen. Museum timings are between 9 am and 9 pm every day.
On the whole, Celebrity Wax Museum was a downer for me. I had greater expectations from this museum. However, I have visited the Madame Tussauds in London, so that could partially explain my reason for disappointment.
From a local point of view, the museum may be liked by tourists visiting Lonavla. Although, I still think Rs 100 is an expensive affair for a museum experience of such short duration. Nonetheless, the concept is novel to India and hence will be popular among Indian tourists. But for anyone who has visited Madame Tussauds, you know this is far from the real deal!
Because the duration of our visit to Celebrity Wax Museum was lesser time than speculated, we decided to visit Pawana Lake in Lonavla. Ours was a day trip and we returned back to Mumbai on the same day around 9pm.
Here are some more pictures from inside Celebrity Wax Museum
(Note: Ticket prices were correct at the time of publishing this blog. For updated information about prices, please check their website or contact their office)
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