Monday, July 22, 2024

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Salarjung Museum

Place : Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Significance : Sculpture of Veiled Rebecca, Double figure by Italian sculptor G.H Benzoni, Musical clock, Arabic Al Quran in Nashq (1288 AD), jade crafted knifes of Jehangir & Nurjahan, Famous European paintings etc.
Timings : 10.00a.m. to 5.00p.m., Open daily except Fridays
Exhibits : Mughal Miniatures, European Paintings & sculptures, Chinese Porcelain, Japanese Silk Paintings, Carpets, Clocks, rare manuscripts etc.
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Situated on the southern bank of the river Musi, the Salarjung Museum is the third largest museum in India housing the biggest one-man collections of antiques in the world. It is well known throughout India for its prized collections belonging to different civilizations dating back to the 1st century. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III (1889-1949), former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, spent a substantial amount of his income over thirty five years to make this priceless collection, his life's passion. The collections left behind in his ancestral palace, 'Diwan Deodi' were formerly exhibited there as a private museum which was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1951. Later in 1968, the museum shifted to its present location at Afzalgunj and is administered by a Board of Trustees with the Governor of Andhra Pradesh as ex-officio chairperson under the Salar Jung Museum Act of 1961.

Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III The Salarjung Museum is a royal treat to the connoisseurs with a collection of over 43000 art objects and 50000 books and manuscripts. The collections include Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Far Eastern Art, European Art, Children Art along with a Founders gallery and a rare manuscript section. Indian Art includes stone sculptures, bronze images, jade carvings, painted textiles, wood carvings, miniature paintings, modern art, ivory carvings, textiles, metal-ware, manuscript, arms & armour etc. Middle Eastern Art contains the collection of carpets, paper (manuscripts), glass, metal-ware, furniture, lacquer etc. from Persia, Arabia, Syria, and Egypt. Collection of Far Eastern Art exhibit porcelain, bronze, enamel, lacquerware, embroidery, painting, wood & inlay work from China, Japan, Tibet, Nepal and Thailand etc. Oil and watercolor paintings form an important part of the European Collection. 

The museum building in a semicircular shape with 38 galleries spread on two floors displays only a part of the original collections. The ground floor has 20 galleries and the first floor has 18 galleries. The exhibits on different subjects are displayed in separate galleries. 

Gallery 1 or the Founders gallery displays personal artifacts, momentos received and portraits of the Salar Jungs and the Nizams's. Royal clothes, porcelain and silver bowls, books furniture like the ceremonial throne used by Salar Jung III etc can be seen.

Gallery 3 and 3A contains collection of Indian art and articles. This section displays Indian textiles; bronze images of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu deities dating back to later Pallava and Chola periods; Stone sculptures including a Bharhut rail slab, standing Buddha statue, Ananthasayi Vishnu, red stone sculptures of Kushanas etc; brass idols belonging to the  Pallavas, Cholas and Kakatiyas dynasty and brass articles belonging to Vijanagar dynasty; Pancha Teertha Jaina statue, statues of Somaskadha, Shiva and Nataraja in Ananda Tandava posture, Narasimha, Ganesha etc.; Kalamkari paintings on cloth has various scenes of Ramayana, 'Parvati Kalyanam', Lord Krishna along with Gopis etc. 

Gallery 4 and 5 contains minor arts of South India and wood carvings. The special attraction is the armed Vishnu of 1st and 2nd centuries found in Nagarjuna hill. Other exhibits here include wooden chairs, doors, statue of gods, carved screens, chariot wheels etc. There is also a brass carving of 'Rama Pattabhishekam' from Thailand.

Gallery 6 presents a fine selection of printed and embroidered fabrics in cotton, silk and wool belonging to Indian culture. Brocades woven with silver and gold thread, silk saris of south India, Kashmiri shawls, muslin waistcloth, famous 'phulkari' embroidery work from Punjab, appliqué temple  hangings from Rajasthan, Zari coats, chicken work from Lucknow etc. are displayed here. 

Gallery 9,10 and 11
is the Children’s section and has a marvelous assemblage of toys from all over the world. It displays puppets, model trains and objects acquired by Salar Jung III during his childhood.

Gallery 12 is a very shallow porch with stags, deer etc in glass cabinets. 

Gallery 14 contains carved ivory works belonging to 18th and 19th century. Ivory chairs presented to Tippu Sultan by Louis XV of France, inlaid tables, early 20th century German circus figures, chess sets, mat with ivory thread, lantern from Mysore etc some of the exhibits. The Mughal Queen in the standing posture is the special attraction of this gallery.

Gallery 15 and 16 contains metal ware and European artifacts including the world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca, her beautiful face hazily visible through a flimsy marble veil. Another equally famous sculpture is a 19th century double-figure sycamore wood carving done by G.H Benzoni, an Italian sculptor. The front view of the figure shows the facade of Mephistopheles and the back view of the figure showing Margaretta is seen reflected in the mirror placed behind. There are the two of the most famous attractions of the museum.

Gallery 16A includes guns, daggers, shields and swords including that of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, Tippu Sultan, Mohammad Shah and from the Qutb Shahi period with engravings of the Dasavatara etc. 

Gallery 17 is dedicated to ornately decorated metal ware like huqqa, trays etc. Gallery 17A contains oil paintings by Ravi Verma and Abanindranath tagore.

Gallery 18 shows a representative selection of Indian miniatures like Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari and Deccani paintings.

Gallery 20 on the first floor has a collection of European paintings. The vast collection includes 'Piazzo of San Marco' by Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768), 'Soap Bubbles' by Fransesco Hayez of Italy, 19th century work, 'Venice' by Marc Aldine of Italy etc. 

Gallery 21 to 24 is the large assemblage of European pottery, furniture, bronzes and glassware. Pottery items range from Dresden (Germany), Sevres (France), Capodimonte (Italy) to Wedgewood and English porcelain. Gallery 24 has glass ware exhibits from England, Austria, Ireland, Venice, France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Turkey etc

Musical ClockGallery 25, the jade room displays stunning exhibits of jade. Jade imported from abroad were carved intricately and inlaid with stones by Indian artists. The workmanship can be seen in the dainty jade wine bowl, wine cups with leaf and flower motifs, swords, small jade platters used by the Salarjungs and inscribed jade book stand of Altamash (1209-10 AD), hunting knife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, fruit knife of Mughal Empress Noorjehan (17th century), 17th century dark green jade inscribed archery ring of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan etc.

Gallery 28 is the clock room is one of the best galleries displaying more than 300 clocks in various sizes ranging from Sandiers to modern day huge pieces. There are tiny pieces set in magnifying glasses to huge and stately grandfather clocks from France, England, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. An interesting exhibit here is a musical clock from Cook and Kelvy of England with a toy figure of a watchman, who pushes open the door every hour in a great hurry, to beat the melodious gong to indicate time. 

Gallery 29 holds the ancient and rare collection of manuscripts in Arabic, Urdu and Persian languages. It includes the great Arabic Al Quran in Nashq (1288 AD) done by calligrapher Yakut-al-Must’sami bearing the autographs of Mughal emperors, Jehangir, Shahjehan and Aurangzeb; Roudat-ul-Muhabbin by Amir Hussaini Saadat (1329 A.D.); Urdu poetic composition Diwan-e-Mohamed Quli Qutub Shah (1595 A.D.) done by Quli Qutub Shah himself acquired from the Golconda Royal Library etc. 

Gallery 31 to 36 contains far east -Chinese and Japanese porcelain. The display includes pieces from Sung (960-70); Yuan(1279-13650 Ming and Ching periods in gallery 31.

Gallery 32 is the Kashmiri room with arts and crafts from Kashmir.

Apart from the galleries, there is a reference Library, reading room, publication and education section, chemical conservation lab, sales counter, cafeteria etc. Guides are available at fixed timings free of charge. 

Timing & Entry
The museum is open every day except Friday. Besides, the Museum will remain closed on the public holidays. Working hours is from 10.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. Entrance to the Museum is by ticket, the rate of which is Re. 1.50 for general public. Students with identity cards, Defence personnel in uniform, organised Kisan parties and children below 12 years are given 50% concession.