Posing with the damaged statue of the sun god from the Sun Temple, Konark. The statue was moved to the museum after lightning struck its hands and nose off, and people don’t worship damaged statues.
The National Museum is one of India’s treasures, which like most other Indian treasures, goes unsung. My earliest memories of visiting this iconic museum are from my early teens when the Nizam of Hyderabad’s priceless jewels were on display. There were long lines and everyone was shepherded out in a timely manner, to give others a chance. Since then, I’ve visited the museum many times, and continue to be fascinated by its vast collection.
My recent visit to the museum was with members of the Women’s International Club. This club provides a unique platform for women living in Delhi to experience various cultures of the world. Its members include a mix of Indian and international women from different professional backgrounds. The club organizes various activities every month related to books, food, travel, culture, and health, among others.
The members of the Women’s International Club ready for the tour! Usha Srinivasan, our well-informed tour guide is on the top right.
THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, DELHI:
The genesis of our National Museum dates back to pre-independence days, when a collection of artifacts from various museums across the country were sent to London for an exhibit. Upon their return, they were put on display in Delhi before being dispersed to their original spots. The great success of this temporary exhibition in Delhi, led to the government making it permanent in the form of a museum.
The famous “Dancing Girl”, dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization
WHAT CAN YOU SEE AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, DELHI?
The permanent exhibits about ancient, medieval and modern India are well-curated and beautifully presented. My favorite ones include the Indus Valley Civilization, the beautifully preserved bronze sculptures from the Bronze Age, and the rather humbling relics of Buddha’s remains. The last of these has put the National Museum on a Buddhist pilgrimage route, with scores of Buddhist tourists visiting annually to pay their respects.
The temporary exhibits are a great way to see objects and collections from museums across the world. I loved the recent exhibit on “India & the World: A History in Nine Stories”. Currently there is a special exhibit on India’s relations with Uzbekistan. Where else would one get the opportunity to see these treasures without having to travel?
The museum has undergone major refurbishment in the last few years. State-of-the-art lighting has been installed to show the collections to their best advantage. Seating has been strategically placed, for people to rest and admire as they need to.
A statue of Gautam Buddha from the Mauryan period. This statue is made in the Gandhara School of Art, influenced by Greek-Hellenistic art traditions
WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, DELHI?
Our country has a rich tradition of art and culture. We’re fortunate that we have a large number of beautifully preserved remnants from multiple eras and dynasties. The museum is the best way to glimpse this abundance, from the comfort of your own city. Indians, unaware of their glorious antecedents, will certainly feel proud of their heritage by paying a visit. It’s also a wonderful excursion for children of all ages, who can see their country’s legacy in a new light.
The tickets are nominally priced and there is plenty to see, with special exhibits changing every couple of months. Volunteer guides give fantastic anecdotal information (our guide was Usha Srinivasan, an educator, astronomer and historian), and audio guides in various languages, are a quick and easy way to make the most of your trip.
The National Museum is a place that I will continue to visit, along with my family. I highly recommend you visit soon as well!
The relics of Gautam Buddha. Tiny pieces of his bones have been preserved in special atmospheric conditions at the National Museum, putting it on the Buddhist pilgrimage route
INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW:
TICKETS: INR 20 for Indian nationals
INR 650 for foreign nationals (includes price of audio guide)
Students till Class 12th go free by showing their I-cards
DAYS & TIMINGS: 10: 00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Nearest Metro Stations: Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan
Parking is available if you choose to take your own car
Opt for a volunteer guide if you have time. The information they give is infinitely more interesting than the pre-recorded audio guides.
AUDIO GUIDES are available in the following languages: Hindi, English, German, French and Japanese
WATCH OUT FOR FUTURE EXHIBITS BY FOLLOWING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM ON FACEBOOK AND THEIR WEBSITE:
If you would like to join the Women’s International Club, you can connect with me directly.
Statue of a Yogini (goddess of power) from the Pratihara dynasty of the medieval age Uttar Pradesh
Beautifully sculpted statue of Lord Vishnu from the golden age of India- the Gupta period
One half of the Ganga-Jamuna statues that guard most temples in South India, from the Gupta period
Skeleton preserved from 5000 years ago- the Indus Valley civilization, that taught us a lot about their burial practices and belief in the after-life
A bassinet for a baby’s burial from the Indus Valley civilization
Beaded jewellery from the Indus Valley civilization. So similar to contemporary jewellery!
Painted urn from Indus Valley civilization. It amazes me how the paint survived 1000s of years!
Different styles of vases and urns from the Indus Valley civilization. Were the perforated ones used as lanterns or for de-silting water? One can only guess
It was a busy day at the museum! Scores of school students, groups and Buddhist pilgrims were visiting
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