Nashik also called as Nasik is an ancient city in the northern region of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Situated on the banks of river Godavari, Nasik is well known for being one of the Hindu pilgrimage sites, that of Kumbh Mela which is held every 12 years.
Krishna Pandey, the Founder of Gargoti -The Mineral Museum shares the story and experience of setting up this very unique and special museum which is India’s 1st & only Gem, Mineral & Fossil Museum. It is the world’s biggest ‘Private Gem & Mineral Museum’. It also houses the largest & the finest collection of Indian Zeolite Minerals & Crystals in the world
How did you get starting a museum?
I started exporting these minerals in 1994 after retiring from the Indian Navy. These minerals being rare had a very niche and premium market and enjoyed great popularity in the west. However majority of the people in India didn’t have a clue about these beauties arising from our own mother land. This lack of knowledge disturbed me a lot, thus I dedicate this museum as my payback to the society & my mother land.
When did the museum open?
The Museum was inaugurated by Hon. Shri.Balasaheb ThackerayJi on 26th April 2001.
What was the first item in your collection?
The first mineral specimen I ever collected was an “Apophyllite” at the age of 16 from a mine near Panvel, Mumbai.
Choose five items that best represents your collection and tell us why they are special. Please provide pictures for the same.
My collection can be broadly divided into 5 major categories:
a.Indian Gems & Minerals
b. Foreign Gems, Minerals & Metals
c. Crystal Carvings
It’s very difficult to choose favorites but I’ll try to pick a few.
What are the challenges to sustaining a museum in India?
a. No government funds or backup for promotion of museums in India.
b. Unorganized tourism in India.
c. Government’s indifference despite of seeing the potential of local employment, promotions of art, handicrafts, artisan & craftsmen thanks to museums.
What is the typical profile of the museum visitor at your museum?
We get people from all walks of life. The Gargoti Museum, Nasik receives approx. 200 visitors in a day (on average) which includes students, families,foreign nationals, bureaucrats, celebrities, sportsmen, politicians etc.
Now that museum is shut how are you keeping your audience engaged online?
Our main motto is to educate the people of India about these hidden natural treasures arising from their own Mother Land.
We continue to do so by posting picture of couple of minerals every day along with their details on social media platforms.
Any tips for people or individuals who may want to start a museum?
It’s important to be passionate towards the field you are eyeing for.
It’s important to travel & explore the work done in your field already.
Public appreciation is more important than commercial success. If your venture is appreciated, commercial success will follow.
What next for the future with regards to your Museum plan?
We plan to have a chain of Gargoti Museums in the major tourist cities of India. My current museum is in an industrial town on the outskirts of Nasik.
This was what I could afford 2 decades ago but the overwhelming response my museum received has re-assured my faith in my own vision & also reaffirmed my faith in the belief that the people of this country do have an eye and appreciation for nature & it’s rarities. We have an interesting and unique offering. So I will continue to spread more information about these items via my museums.