Monday, January 30, 2017

Things to do in Shimla #1- The Himachal State Museum

Getting there:
In front of the Oberoi Cecil hotel, is one road that goes to the Viceregal Lodge. The other, smaller road that goes up to the Doordarshan Kendra, is the one you need to take. There are no signboards. Go right up to the end of that road. You will reach the Himachal Pradesh State Museum.
Tell the driver that the car goes right up and there is enough parking there.
Once inside, feel free to lose yourself entirely and completely.

Things to do:
If you have young children, they will enjoy the Indian Army section a lot. I went to see rare examples of the Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art, and was suitably rewarded.

There is a real palki of the goddess for the famous Kullu Ka Dashahra, and there is a model of the Himachali temple - whose architectural style varies considerably from temples elsewhere in the country. There is a room dedicated to local murals and the Chamba Rumaal - beautiful embroidery that looks the same on both sides.

There is a section with the traditional dresses of all regions of Himachal. It was pure delight!
The biggest surprise was the sculpture from the Himachal school. I had no idea! It was a total learning experience.

There is also a coins gallery. Though not as good as the Coins gallery at the National Museum, Delhi, it is, nonetheless, a great resource for children who have never been exposed to the coin heritage of India. If you are accompanying a child, please do take the time to read, and then explain to the child.
One of the things that I cannot get out of my head - is a coin of a bull with inscription in Kharoshthi. The bull is shaped exactly like the bulls found on the Indus Valley seals, but the inscription is in Kharoshthi.

If you are an IVC fan (and I am), that coin is remarkable. It provides, to my knowledge, the only evidence of continuity from the IVC to the later Indic civilisations.

The other things of note are the miniature paintings and murals depicting women. In these late 18th century paintings, women can be seen writing, reading, playing with a top, smoking a hookah, and drinking wine. These are all solo portraits (meaning no need for a male subject in the picture). This was the India of over a 100 years ago. I think we need to pay attention to these pictures and understand what we are missing in our "modern" world.

In short, this museum is your window to the heritage that is Himachal. The clothes, the crafts (there are wooden masks too), the instruments, the jewelry, miniature art and the manuscripts, the coins and the sculptures, the embroidery and the murals. This is a treasure trove, if you have the time to invest.

The staircase that greets you as soon as you enter the building. Amazing!

Traditional Himachali jewelry. What are these pieces used for?

Lady playing with a  traditional Indian toy - lattu

Lady drinking wine - Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art

Lady writing letter - Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

Hookah Time. Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

A Gurudwara from 2 centuries ago. Guler, Pahadi School of Miniature Art

Model of the Shiva temple - Notice that large reception area and the Kalasham that is unlike anywhere else. Also notice the almost 100% wood construction.

The famous Chamba Rumaal

Traditional Himachali instruments

Vishnu - Himachal Sculpture style

Surya - HImachal Sculpture Style

Details about the Himachal Sculpture

This cute British era letter box in front of the museum

1 comment:

Rekha said...

Interesting write up and awesome images.