The Sea Shells museum located in Mahabalipuram is a marvel. On display at this museum are more than 40000 pieces of shells from all over the world, making it Asia's largest sea shells museum. Fossils, shark teeth and whale fins are the other items of display. My favorites at this museum are the car, ship and train made out of oyster shells. While the collection itself is magnificent, the other noteworthy aspect of this museum is the fascinating story told here about how pears are formed in oysters. Sea food lovers would also love the sea food restaurant located inside the complex. Maya Bazaar is the other interesting aspect where one can shop for jewelry made out of pearls and sea shells.
The Sea Shells museum is located just behind the Panch Ratha complex at Mahabalipuram. It is a privately managed museum. Mahabalipuram is located 50 KMs south of Chennai and can be easily accessed via East Coast road.
The entrance fee for the Museum is Rs 50 per person, while that for the aquarium is Rs 30 per person.
The Sea Shells museum is open everyday from 8 am to 8 pm.
The museum can be contacted at +91-9894495676. Or visit the website of the museum at Sea Shells Museum.
The 40000+ collection of Sea Shells is a singular effort of Raja Mohamad who spent 33 years to collect these items from around the world. There are 4 galleries in the museum. The most interesting exhibits across the galleries would be the following-
A Train made from pearl oyster shell by Selvam is a masterpiece in Gallery 1. It took nearly 6 months to complete as it was completely hand made.
Selvam also made a Car using the same oyster shells. It is in Gallery 2. The car took 4 months to complete.
The rare pearl collection in Gallery3 is worth spending time. There is also an explanation of the fascinating process by which pearl's are formed.
"Pears are grown by live oysters below the oceans. A pearl begins its life as a part of a shell that accidentally gets lodged itself in the inner soft body of an oyster. The oyster starts to secrete a liquid to ease the irritation of this foreign object. Nacre is a hard crystalline substance it keeps getting generated till the object is there. Over time, the shell gets complete;y covered by a silky and crystalline coating of nacre. A pearl is formed".
Gallery 4 is dominated by the Australian Trumpet which is the largest sea shell in the world.
The Pacific Lion's Paw is the other incredible item on display. These are found in the Gulf of California.
Here are some more of the other incredible pieces on display at the Sea Shells Museum.
Princely Cones stand out with their bright colors and create quite an impression.
Shopaholics would love Maya Bazaar, the shop inside the museum complex which offers pearls, corals and shells for sale. In fact they fashion store also offers to custom make jewelry using pearls, shells and corals.
Fresh N' Live is a sea food restaurant inside the museum complex. Sea food lovers would like both the food and the ambience.
This Museum has parallels with 2 other great pieces of work i have seen. The Rock Garden in Chandigarh and Selaron Stairs in Rio de Janeiro were also the product of inspiration of one inspired individual and are equally fascinating.