Customised Guided Tours
Dr Divia Patel
Senior Curator (South Asia) Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Exploring India with Poulomi:
I have travelled to India many times and all the trips have been memorable for different reasons. Two in particular stay in my mind because of the expert way in which I was led through my journey. On my first visit to Jaipur back in 1996, Poulomi introduced me to the wonders of the city. As a young person who had grown up in Jaipur, she was the perfect guide; knowledgeable, calm, informal and fun. She expertly took me around the palace and the museum, giving a sense of the history that surrounded us and bringing her local experience into the narrative. A particular highlight for me was a day visit to the nearby town of Sanganer and the textile block-printers who lived and worked there. It was fascinating to watch the process and be given a chance to try my hand at block-printing, followed by an opportunity to buy some fabric. I still have that beautiful cotton fabric, a lovely reminder of the visit.
In 1998 I had the pleasure of travelling to Santiniketan in West Bengal. My trip started with a memorable train journey out of busy Howrah Station in Calcutta; on Poulomi’s advice we sat in the third-class carriage, which was perfect for watching the changing landscape from the window-less carriage and have the cooling air blowing around you. First-class carriages had blacked-out windows which meant that you would miss the visual transition from crowded Calcutta to the more serene village-like feel of Santiniketan.
Poulomi and her family had moved there from Jaipur so once again I was treated to a wonderful experience of being shown around by an expert guide. I was given a tour of Rabindranath Tagore’s famous university and the many sculptures and murals by India’s greatest artists that are dotted around the campus. This was an environment soaked in history and full of fascinating stories central to the understanding of modern art in India. Having grown-up in a family of art historians, Poulomi had key connections with people and places that made my journey such an enjoyable and educational one. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Riten Majumdar, one of India’s foremost designers. Spending time with him in his beautiful home will always be a very special moment for me.
In more recent times I have met Poulomi in Delhi and Mumbai, cities which she knows extremely well having worked and lived in them for several years. Here, she has introduced me to lesser known but excellent restaurants, street food stalls and ice-creams shops. Poulomi has a wide-ranging knowledge of cultural sites, galleries and museums, as well as local cultures across many of India’s cities and towns, and it has always been a pleasure to explore these with her. If you are lucky enough to have her as your guide then you can be assured of a memorable time.
Designer at Lord Cultural Resources
I used to visit exhibitions and heritage sites alone until I realized how inspiring and eye-opening the guided tours can be! I gained that understanding only after attending the first-ever guided tours conducted by Poulomi Das that were customized to the needs of the attendees. While discovering tourist attractions and exhibitions alone is always an option, I recommend the planned tours in most cases for they pack in several benefits.
I have attended several guided tours conducted by Poulomi in Mumbai, at a time when we could flock to any tourism spots easily and roam around carefree under safe environments. I joined her first for the Durga Pujo pandal hopping, which has much to it than idol worship and sumptuous cuisine that only Bengalis and Calcuttans would understand, but I was second to join the squad: thanks to Paulomi for this perk! I then accompanied Poulomi with one more companion on an informative tour to the Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s permanent exhibition and the garden. It was a lovely Sunday morning that we spent recounting our childhood memories, talking and reflecting on the natural history and the rich collection of artefacts at the BDL Museum. What lined up next was the trip to the rock-cut Kanheri Caves, located within the premises of Sanjay Gandhi National Park; and a guided walkthrough at the Discovery of India Exposition in Nehru Centre. Both tours offered great insights about the places that I would not have known otherwise. The trip to the Kanheri Caves not only helped me uncover some hidden gems about the place, but it also inspired me to start my own blog (a link to it is embedded at the bottom).
Poulomi’s keen interest in literature and history, art and archaeology, and her deep understanding of the facts related to the sites, stemming from her extensive experience of working in the cultural sphere in India and European countries as the museum curator, researcher and writer, and recently as a tutor, is the boon for attendees. Her thorough knowledge of Indian art and history made my visits to the aforementioned places more meaningful and memorable than any other conventional solo trips to the similar places I made in the past. It not only acquainted me with the facts related to the sites and the festival but also trained my eyes, to some extent, on how to perceive and distinguish the realities of the diverse and rich cultural heritage of India. I’d offer equal credits to Jnanapravaha Institute in Mumbai for the latter from where I have acquired some knowledge of Indian Arts & Aesthetics.
But all in all, the excursions to the aforesaid places in Mumbai with my friend and former colleague, Poulomi, gifted me several useful cents and made the sites more accessible. And more importantly, it brought the classroom rote learning of art and patronage, diversity and tolerance, culture and heritage alive through an interactive session conferring viewpoints and exchange of thoughts. I’m just holding my breath, so to speak, until this contagion dies down so that I can go on another exciting expedition with Poulomi!
I highly recommend the guided tours planned and customized by Poulomi Das.
VarnikaDesigns organises immersive museum, art gallery and heritage site visits in your city. Museums come alive through our storytelling, you leave happy and enriched with your history
We ensure a spontaneous creative dialogue with culture and heritage. We help you discover personal connects to heritages sites and forgotten histories so that you keep returning to them
We will specially design workshops and tours for you
We have experience engaging with senior citizens and children, from Dharavi to Dehradun to Vijayawada to London.
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Passionate about Designing for Children
Have known Polo (as we call her) for around 18 years now.
We haven't been able to go with Poulomi for her Museum and Heritage tours. But me and my children are lucky to have her as my close friend, so we owe a lot of our love curiosity and urge to explore history to the prolonged conversations me and my children have had with her.
I can blindly trust my kids with her, be it a tour or a day at home, a cozy brunch at the most unknown place in the heart of the city (a place that children will simply love), be rest assured that the children will end up having some amazing conversations and will inevitably learn about something they had not known, never thought they even wanted to know.
So this one incident when my children were 8 and 3, she offered to pick them from daycare and brought them to a play at NCPA, Mumbai, while I joined them straight from work as I was getting late.
A few years later as we crossed the roads in South Mumbai my then 11 year old happily spoke about the British architecture and the profound influence we see from Europe etc. When I asked her where she learnt it all from, she said you know Polo aunty was telling us all this on our way to NCPA that day!
So it's one thing to have the knowledge and another to impart it to the kids in a way they remember and connect ! Polo has that inherent talent.
Would love to be a part of her tours and highly recommend children experiencing it.
Much love n luck to you Polo
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Netra (15 yrs) and Raahi (10 yrs)
The S bridge or the Z bridge, as we fondly called it, was an enigma that I never understood! As a college going student in Matunga, a bridge that connected western and central parts of Matunga was so exciting, however, I never managed to explore this wonder of a bridge until one day when Poulomi offered to take me around the area.
Not only did Poulomi tell me the history of the area around the bridge but she also contextualised the communities who inhabited the area, how it developed, it's architecture and of course the yummy food that lace the edge of central Matunga.
We finished our walk with a little talk for the soul and a filter coffee or two! I highly recommend a walk/talk with Poulomi to know the real Bombay/Mumbai and its exciting culture!
Managing Director, South Asia REHAU
It was through one of my WhatsApp groups that I learnt about Poulomi's initiative in helping explore the treasures our city offers. Had been looking for options which would be interesting for children and adults alike as I looked to engaging mybdaughter and her friends in an experience which more than just fun, a learning an experience.. and above all an exploration of that which we had not dwelled much on. Yes, that's what the trip to Kanheri was about for all of us...adults and children alike. Patient, friendly, enthused, knowledgeable...just a few adjectives to describe our wonderful guide Poulomi. If not for the pandemic, we would have continued exploring much more in partnership with her. Looking forward to a restart in the post-pandemic times..
Program Director: Fashion Design, ISDI School of Design & Innovation
Atlas SkillTech University
Poulomi's guided tour of the 'India and the World' exhibition at CSMVS, Mumbai, was fantastic! Her sense of history and how each object speaks of our creative and intellectual development, made the whole museum experience truly enriching and memorable!
Student at Hiranandani Foundation School, Powai, Mumbai
Miss Poulomi's guided tour 'India and the World' exhibition was amazing! I learnt a lot of India's great history and the way Miss Poulomi guided us throughout the museum was fantastic and l really enjoyed it.
Editor and writer
I thoroughly enjoyed Poulomi Das's guided tour of the Discovery of India exhibition at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, on April 2019. The discovery of Discovery was itself a huge treat, considering I had not known of this space before, despite my long stay in the city. Ours was a motley crew of visitors which consisted of adults and children and Poulomi found ways of engaging both groups as well as both the informed and the newbie among us. What stayed with me were not just the displays but insights provided by Poulomi on NID's involvement with the project and the ingenious methods used by teachers and students to recreate and convey several centuries of rich Indian history. From anthropological models to carved architectural structures and small animated films, the tour encapsulated a visual journey in the evolution of art, design and craft. In a packed 2 hour walkthrough, Poulomi successfully weaved in both the story of the exhibition as well the institutions it was housed in and conceived by. I hope many more people get to discover and rediscover this hidden gem through her eyes and words.
Partner at a Law Firm in Mumbai
Have you ever passed by places of interest and wondered what lies within and beyond? Byculla was one of those places that I had often driven past in my then-8 years in Mumbai but never found the time or opportunity to explore further. When I got a chance to be part of a walking tour organized by Poulomi, I grabbed the opportunity. The few hours exploring on foot were spent well - the tour of the Bhau Daji Lad museum and the adjacent zoo was a good mix of history, architecture and botany trivia. The tour of the museum was particularly insightful since Poulomi offered an insider's perspective, having worked inside the museum in the past. The various sculptures and the diversity of plants and trees inside Byculla zoo’s botanical gardens also amazed me - it was hard to believe that such a treasure was right in the heart of the fast-paced city of Mumbai. Would highly recommend.
Graphic design student, School of Design
Doon University, Dehradun
Guru Ram Rai Darbar and FRI.
We visited the Guru Ram Rai Darbar and FRI with our course guide Poulomi Das mam, we went to the Darbar early in the morning free to roam around and soak in the confluence Sikh and Mughal architecture. The frescos were a delight to see and each one told a story separately, guided by Poulomi mam, I came to know the story behind our city ‘Dera Doon’ or Dehradun. Our next stop was Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. We went to its museums and got to know the life of timber and much more.
Overall a fun-filled and knowledgeable experience, I loved to be a part of her course and the style in which she lets her students experience everything while not even making us realise that it was a part of the course. The knowledge she imparts is a part of who she is and as a student I will forever be grateful to her for taking us to the museums with her <3
Graphic Design student, School of Design
Doon University, Dehradun
Ms. Poulomi Das is the best guide ever! Our favorite part of the tour was the scenic drives across city backroads and your choices of Places. The warmth and closeness she provided were unparalleled and we certainly will cherish all the unforgettable moments for a long time. Thank you very much for giving us this rich experience!”
Financial consultant, poet and mother
We visited the RBI money museum, a gem which I didn't even know about till poulomi told me about it. Joining me were my 2 excited daughters, Duhani12 and Vedika 10, along with another school friend and her son Parth 10! t's a small museum but packed with lucid details and artefacts and history of money in its varied forms. Poulomi was most patient with the endless questions of the kids and made it a lot of fun by sharing interesting anecdotes… Overall a Sunday well spent!
Apala Lahiri Chavan
I am an avid walking tour enthusiast and hence have been part of a wide range of walking tours across the world. Hence, when Poulomi told me about her curated tour of the discovery of india exposition at the Nehru centre, Mumbai - http://www.nehru-centre.org/discovery-of-india/, I was certainly very interested. On a warm Sunday morning, we met in the lobby of the Nehru centre for the tour. It turned out to be a fascinating tour of many juxtaposed narratives – of a country and an exhibition, enthrallingly told by Poulomi as we navigated through the many tangible and intangible parts of the story.
I also enjoyed the anecdotes Poulomi expertly stitched together from her personal collection of literature, history, art and life! In addition, the commentary on museum design was very insightful. The balance between time spent on the guided part of the tour and each of us doing our own exploration was also perfect.
I look forward to being part of other such tours organised by Poulomi!
Educator and motivational speaker
I have a long acquaintance with Poulomi Das the founder of MuMe project. Our friendship has stretched for more than 28 years. During her visit to Udaipur in 2016, we visited the museum and the way she tried to create curiosity and interest to explore history in my son who was 13 at that time was appreciable.
Her long experience in this field can be beneficial to young children, teenagers and adults who are interested to find something beyond their knowledge. Anyone who would be a part of her guided tours, I'm sure that they will love and enjoy the vast knowledge which she'll be able to share with them related to the place and it's surrounding. I would highly recommend everyone to be a part of this interesting and amazing tour.
I wish all the good luck and success to you.