Raja Ravi Verma’s iconic painting ‘Yashoda Krishna’
I consider myself fortunate to live in the beautiful, historic capital of our country, Delhi. As the seat of government, Delhi is home to fabulous museums, beautiful manicured gardens, and a plethora of stately monuments.
The newly refurbished barracks, at the Red Fort or Lal Qila, are the latest addition to the wonderful sightseeing that Delhi offers. The barracks house four museums, of which three are run by the government and one is a collaboration between the Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
I have not yet perused the three government museums on Jallianwala Bagh, Subhash Chandra Bose and the Indian Independence Movement, but I was blown away by the well-curated Drishyakala Museum. Read on to know why you must visit this gem in the heart of Delhi.
- GLIMPSE THE HISTORIC JUXTAPOSITION OF MUGHAL AND BRITISH ARCHITECTURE
The Red Fort was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, as the palace fort in his capital, Shahjahanabad. Named for the red sandstone used to build it, the Red Fort is one of the best representatives of architecture from the Mughal period, in Delhi.
The Fort was taken over by the British after the subjugation of emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857, and converted into regimental barracks for its military. The British, thus, used their own style of architecture in the midst of the Mughal fort. The Red Fort was where India declared its independence from the British in 1947, celebrating this iconic occasion at the same spot to this day.
Drishyakala Museum’s location in the barracks, is the perfect place for visitors to view India’s unique and varied history in one place. Walking through the beautiful green gardens, one can see the juxtaposition of different periods of Indian history.
- VIEW SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GEMS OF INDIAN ART IN ONE PLACE
The Delhi Art Gallery or DAG, has been showcasing and promoting Indian art from the 20th century, since its inception in 1993. Its collection of hundreds of artworks by artists who primarily painted in the ‘modern’ period, is best suited to be displayed at this exclusive space.
Currently, the Drishyakala Museum houses three exhibitions:
- National Treasures- Navratna
This exhibition shows the works of nine Indian artists, considered the Navratna or Jewels of Indian art. Having been lauded internationally for their distinctive styles, these artists represent Indian art to the world at large.
Raja Ravi Verma is most famous for making the visual representation of Indian gods available to the masses; Jamini Roy for his distinct paintings of mythical creatures; Nandalal Bose for his individual style influenced by Japanese art; Rabindranath Tagore, Abandinandranath Tagore and Gagandendranath Tagore for forming their own school of art; Sailoz Mookherjea for breaking the norm with his bold brush strokes and strong political statements; Amrita Shergill for being a pioneer in every way; and Nicholas Roerich for his wonderful paintings inspired by the Himalayas.
- The Printed Picture- Prints of Imperial India
This exhibition almost seems an ode to the pop culture of the early 20th century, which saw the advent of posters and prints. Where art was a rich man’s prerogative, prints and posters brought art to the masses. The exhibition looks into the influence of the printing press, in making the struggle for independence a mass movement.
- A Portrait of Our People- Portrait Gallery
The Portrait Gallery is a fascinating collection of artworks commissioned by the rich and cultured, during the early 20th century. While portraits of royals dominate the collection, one can also see interesting self-portraits by talented artists, as well as beautifully captured portraits of regular people and artistic muses. The various Parsi portraits show that particular community’s strong patronage of the arts.
- ENJOY AN INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE AT HOME
The fantastic displays, perfect lighting, and temperature controls, provide viewers an experience akin to that of international museums and art galleries. DAG’s expert curation of the exhibitions further enhances the appeal of this museum. If you are looking for international standards of viewing artworks that are national treasures, you won’t find a better place in Delhi.
The exhibitions will keep changing, allowing one to return for more.
The museum has a separate section for visually handicapped people
- TAKE YOUR CHILDREN ALONG FOR FUN WORKSHOPS
Apart from enjoying the three main exhibition halls, children can also participate in various art workshops that take place in the children’s activity area. This is a great way to introduce a love of art and history in young children. The beautiful grounds surrounding the museum are also ideal for family picnics and excursions.
- PARTAKE OF SOME EXPERT KNOWLEDGE THROUGH A GUIDED TOUR
I visited Drishyakala Museum with my fellow members of the Women’s International Club. We had a wonderful tour of the museum under the expert guidance of Rishnitt Singh Heera, Head of Guest Relations at the Drishyakala Museum. His in-depth knowledge of each work, and interesting insights and interpretations, were instrumental in making our visit memorable.
I highly recommend a guided tour of the museum, to really understand and appreciate everything on display. Plan your visit on a day where you have time to thoroughly enjoy and explore this lovely gallery.
A separate section allows visually handicapped people to enjoy the artworks too.
With the members of the Women’s International Club after our guided tour conducted by Rishnitt Singh Heera
Apart from the five reasons enumerated above, I believe the reason you must visit the Drishyakala Museum is to understand India’s history through the vision of its artists. Whether you are a connoisseur, an enthusiast or simply someone that enjoys new and offbeat experiences, you will thoroughly enjoy the Drishyakala Museum at the Red Fort in Delhi.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE MUSEUM:
Days: Tuesday to Sunday (Monday Closed)
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Entry Fee: INR 56 to enter the Red Fort. Free entry to the museum.
Entrance: Lahori Gate, Red Fort, Delhi
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