Kachchh Museum in BhujThe Kachchh Museum of Bhuj attracts visitors from all corners of India and the globe. It is one of the oldest museums in India and it bears witness to the glorious past of Kutch culture. The heritage, art, culture, warfare, shipping and lifestyle of Kutch are highlighted in this museum.
History of Kuchchh MuseumThe Kuchchh museum was established as an accompanying structure to the School of Art (established in 1877) was commissioned by the erstwhile Maharaja of Bhuj Maharao Khengarji III. Maharao Khengariji III got married in 19th January 1884 whereupon artists, sculptors, merchants and members of royalty from various parts of India contributed several items to the royal palace
The old building was no longer sufficient to hold the new items. Finally on 14th November 1884 Sir James Fergusson laid the foundation stone for the museum and this is why precisely why the museum was known as the Fergusson museum. The total cost of constructing two floors of the building came up to Rs 3200/- which was a very high sum in those days.
The Maharao of Bhuj was very fond of the Gothic style of architecture and this is why the museum was also constructed in the Italian style. The state engineers Mc Lelland along with the other Mistris of Kutch were responsible for the designing of the museum. Originally the museum was treated as the preserve of the Maharao of Bhuj and was rarely opened to members of public apart from religious occasions.
Collections of the Kuchchh MuseumThe biggest memorabilia of Kshatrapa inscriptions in the whole world is found in Kachchh Museum. Scholars and historians from across the globe have visited this museum to see the Andhau inscription dating back to 1st Century and Abhir inscription dating back to 3rd century. Scripts, transcripts and messages written in Kuchchhi (a now extinct language) are found in the museum. There is a big collection of ancient coins which include Kori; Kutch’s official currency till pre Independence era.
Some other interesting collections at the museum are:
- A good variety of seals of the Indus valley era are found in this museum in the archeological section.
- There are samples of handiwork, yarns, instruments, dyes and fabrics used by the tribes for making the textiles which Kutch is so famous for. You will find the entire collection in the textile section.
- There is a separate shipping section which has various models of ships along with a detailed representation of their instruments which were in use in the ancient Mandvi docks. Permission documents and route maps are also on full display.
- There are stone tablets found which have engraving, scriptures and graphical representations on them
- There are ancient paintings showing the lifestyle of the ancient inhabitants of Kutch and their vocations.
- A section is devoted completely to musical instruments like Nagtani, Veena, Dilruba, Morchang etc. these musical instruments were originally played by inhabitants of Kutch and they are now extinct.
- A section is devoted to the representation, manifestation and demonstration of relics from tribal art. The style of handicraft, painting, artwork etc practiced by a particular tribe says a lot about their living habits and culture. As you probably know Kutch is the handicraft center of India and much can be learnt about the intricacies of tribal handloom work by paying a visit to the Kachchh Museum in Bhuj.
Principal Attractions of Kuchchh MuseumThough all the 11 sections in the museum are equally fascinating there are certain attractions that the Kachchh museum at Bhuj is specially known for. In the ground floor of the museum there is a big central room which contains a stuffed version of “Airavat”. Airavat is the representation of a pure white elephant with skin of the color snow and seven tusks. This particular Airavat dates back to 18th Century Mandvi where it was used for the worship of God Tirthankar. The body of the Airavat is painted with flowers. The Government issued a stamp in 1978 which had the depiction of Airavat. The carved elephant in the museum is painted all over in the local Kamagiri style.
A model of Flamingo and the Wild Ass of Kachchh is also kept on the ground floor. There are relics of crocodiles that were once caught from Hamirsar tank. There is a magnificent round silver tray that had been intricately decorated by artists from Narayan Sarovar. This dish along with samples of 20th century ornate doors demonstrates the wealth of the early inhabitants of Kachchh.
Location & Timings of Kachchh Museum
- The Kachchh Museum is open every day from 9.30 A.M to 12.00 P.M in the morning and then again from 3.00 P.M to 6.00 P.M apart from Wednesday.
- The museum also remains closed on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month.
- The museum is located conveniently opposite the Hamirsar Lake.
You can also view the priceless treasures of Kachchh Museum online since a virtual tour was made available on the Internet by the Gujarat tourism department. It’s interesting to note that despite being one of the oldest museums in India, the Kachchh Museum in Bhuj was also the first Indian museum to go online in 2010.