Founded in 1814, the Indian Museum in Kolkata (Calcutta) is the oldest museum in India and houses one of the largest collections of artifacts found anywhere in Asia. The natural history exhibits, complete with dinosaur and mammoth skeletons and myriad pinned insects, ranks among the best in the world.
Known by locals as the ‘House of Magic,’ the museum walks visitors through the cultural, zoological and geographical history of India dating back to prehistoric times. Particularly noteworthy displays include a 4,000-year-old Egyptian mummy, an urn said to hold the ashes of the Buddha, a life-size replica of the Barhut Gateway and India’s largest coin collection.
The museum is closed on Mondays, so plan your visit ahead of time so as not to miss out on this Kolkata highlight. Bags aren’t allowed inside the museum, although you can check purses and small bags at the entrance. With more than 60 galleries spread over a 10,000 square foot (929 square meter) area, it’s best to set aside at least a half-day to tour the museum.