Monday, Dec 25, 2023

Know Your City: The hobby museum tucked away in the streets of Banashankari

Spread out over three floors, the museum, largely populated by various hand-built inventions, has been a passion project for PD Ravindra since 1991.

kyc hobby museumThe museum is largely populated by various hand-built inventions (Express Photos)

To anyone walking down the road intersecting 29th cross in Banashankari Stage 2, a museum might not be the first thing on their minds. But behind a gate and a shutter lies one of the more unique private museums of the city: the Kalaspoorthi Hobby Museum, run by PD Ravindra (85), an engineer who was the head of HAL’s maintenance division.

Spread out over three floors of the building where Ravindra also maintains his office, the museum, largely populated by various hand-built inventions, has been a passion project for him since 1991. One of his objectives, he says, is to impress upon children the practical side of science. “In this country, we learn a lot of theory. But we cannot pick up a spanner and work,” he says.

Even during his HAL days, Ravindra always had an eye for reusing materials that might have otherwise gone for scrap. One of these, for instance, was a refuelling machine for a helicopter made from disposable fuel tanks (often used on fighter jets in long-range missions). His company continued to work on equipment for HAL and BHEL, such as a loader for bombs on the SEPECAT Jaguar jet.

bengaluru The final floor of the museum is a rooftop garden (Express Photo)

One such item is on display at the museum—a wheeled device intended to light up helipads while also providing plug-in points for servicing equipment. Another device has its roots in an incident in the early 90s, when Ravindra saw rags and branches being used as makeshift traffic dividers. The device incorporates an extendable rope barrier with a public address system and poles. It was never used in its intended role, however. Ravindra notes with disappointment that no government support was available at the time for the invention.

Most other exhibits are in the same vein of practicality—cycle-powered mixers and spice pounders, furniture that can be converted from a table and chair to a cot, a rotating spice dispenser to be fixed near a stove. Others demonstrate scientific principles to young visitors—a fountain that demonstrates the centre of gravity, and a Jacob’s Ladder device that displays high voltage arcs between two rods.

Festive offer

The upper floors give more emphasis to Indian culture, with a room displaying photographs of the oldest temples in the country. Another room, named after Ravindra’s late wife, Vimala, serves as an intended classroom for vedic studies for children, which Ravindra has been trying to promote. According to Ravindra, she had taken the reins in helping him set up the building in the late 1980s.

A nearby cabinet also has a curious story behind it—it found its way into the museum after the family members of DV Gundappa could not take it along while shifting from their residence. It contains a series of small Hindu idols nearly four centuries old—donated by a collector, Dr Manjunatha, who felt that it would be better for them to be on display. The final floor of the museum is a rooftop garden—but here, too, the engineer’s hand is apparent, with homemade fountains and even a Shiva linga that rises out of a pot, powered by a hydraulic pump.


The museum does not charge any entry fee. Visitors, however, must call ahead at 9482514883 to fix an appointment.

First published on: 25-12-2023 at 22:20 IST
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