India's first and only gramophone museum is at Kottayam

gramophone museum

India's only gramophone museum set up by Sunny Mathew in lush and green Pala, in the heart of plantation country in Kerala's Kottayam district attracts visitors from across the globe. 'Discs and Machines – Sunny's Gramophone Museum and Records' is a treasure trove of more than a lakh gramophone records and 250 gramophones. The collection includes a pipe-shaped record dating back to 1895 to a vinyl record which was brought out in 1986

The collection includes the first-ever recorded music in the country that is of 14-year-old Soshi Mukhi. The voices of stalwarts of modern Indian history including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Rabindranath Tagore also find a place in the museum.

The museum was thrown open to the public in 2015. Music lovers from all parts of the world including Germany, Austria, and Singapore regularly visit the museum. Sunny's fascination with gramophone records began in childhood. Sunny's father Mathai was a great music lover. Mathai gave Sunny discs as gifts during his school days. However, Sunny started collecting gramophone records only after he got a job at the Forest Development Corporation in 1977.

Years later, he chanced upon a floral external horn-type gramophone and some shellac records at a market in Madurai. He bought them, cleaned them and found that they were in good condition. He also took the records from his ancestral home. Gradually, his collection grew and he began to haunt flea markets across Kerala and in Bengaluru, and Chennai and other parts of the country.

Sunny slowly filled his house with gramophones and records. He even extended his house to accommodate his growing collection. However when he and his family members ran out of space to live, Sunny decided to open an exclusive museum. In 2012, after he retired from the Kerala Forest Development Corporation, he constructed a museum next to his house. He sunk his pension money into the building. The wholehearted support from his wife Josy helped him in fulfilling his dreams.

Apart from gramophones, the museum has a collection of musical instruments like violin, veena harmonium, household implements, film projectors, tape recorders, cameras, and sewing machines.

The museum was open on all days during its initial days. However, later it was open only twice a week. Then he decided to open the museum only on Sundays. Later the museum was open for the public only on Tuesday afternoon. As there are strict restrictions in view of COVD-19 the Museum is now closed for the public.

The museum is located near Bharanaganam, a Christian pilgrim centre on the highway to Erattupetta. On reaching Ambara Chunkapura junction on the highway you have to take a panchayat road to Plashanal the left for 500 metres to reach the museum.

Sunny can be contacted on 93874 73424.

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