A visit to a museum isn't only about looking at artifacts from a bygone era, it is also about visiting our past, experiencing it and feeling proud of it.
By Aruna Raghuram
If you are in Hyderabad, one of the places you must visit with your child is the Salar Jung Museum. Not only does it house one of the largest one-man collections in the world but it is also the third largest museum in our country. The importance of the Salar Jung Museum can be gauged from the fact that our Parliament declared it an ‘Institution of National Importance’.
The major portion of the collection displayed in the Museum was collected by nobleman Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, also known as Salar Jung III. He dedicated 40 years of his life, and a considerable amount of his wealth, to sourcing artifacts from across the world. It is believed that the present collection is only half of the original art wealth belonging to the Nawab.
The Museum was inaugurated in 1951 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Salar Jung family donated the entire collection to the Government of India in 1958. In 1968, the collection was shifted to the present location which lies on the southern bank of the river Musi. One of the most popular attractions in Hyderabad, the museum receives nearly 12,000 visitors on some days. Here's a quick guide to visiting the museum.
Address: The address of the museum is: Salar Jung Museum, Salar Jung Road, Near Minar Function Hall, Dar-ul-Shifa, Hyderabad, Telangana – 500002.
How to reach Salar Jung Museum: Hyderabad is well-connected by air, rail and road with all the important cities of the country. The railway stations of Kachiguda and Nampally are within 5 km from the museum. Buses run frequently from all parts of the city to Afzalgunj, which is within walking distance of the museum. The Salar Jung Museum is near other important monuments in the old city of Hyderabad like the Charminar and Mecca Masjid.
What's in Salar Jung Museum: Spread across 10 acres and having 38 galleries on two floors, the museum has a collection of close to 43,000 art objects, 9,000 manuscripts and 47,000 printed books. The amazing collection includes sculptures, paintings, carvings, textiles, weapons, manuscripts, books, ceramics, metallic artifacts, carpets, clocks and furniture from Japan, China, Burma, Nepal, India, Persia, Egypt, Europe and North America. There is a Children’s Section and a reference library. The Museum is fully air-conditioned with washrooms and a cafeteria on the premises. Locker facility is available to leave behind luggage and restricted items. Guides are available at fixed timings. The museum also has an audio guide system in English, Hindi and Telugu.
Major attractions: The Clock Room is probably the most interesting section. The star attraction here is the ‘Salar Jung Museum Clock’. Visitors to the Museum gather around this 19th century British musical clock to see the timekeeper come out and strike the gong.
Another big draw is the marble statue of the ‘Veiled Rebecca’ made by Italian sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni, a set of ivory chairs presented to Tipu Sultan by Louis XVI of France, a jade dagger belonging to Jahangir Khan and a fruit knife used by Noor Jahan, both decorated with precious stones, are other attractions.
The Salar Jung Museum has on display Japanese silk paintings, Chinese porcelain, Mughal miniature paintings and rare Arabian and Persian manuscripts. The museum is also known for its Quran collection from around the world.
Timings: The museum is open through the week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Friday, which is a holiday. There is a list of other holidays available on the museum's website when it isn't open to the public.
Entry fee: Entry into the museum is free for children below 18 years. However, students need to show their school or college ID cards at the checkpoint. Among adults, for Indians the entry fee is Rs 20, while for foreigners it is Rs 500. The fee for still or mobile photography is an additional Rs 50.
What you shouldn't do in the museum: Visitors are not allowed to touch the exhibits. Smoking is strictly prohibited. Visitors should avoid using mobile phones inside the museum or taking pictures using the flash of the camera. Also, carrying objects such as knives, scissors, blades, razors, match boxes or lighters is prohibited.
To keep the place clean and refrain from littering, visitors are expected to use garbage bins.
Museum activities: The Salar Jung Museum regularly holds special exhibitions and conducts workshops in collaboration with international museums. It publishes guide books, brochures and research journals in English, Hindi and Urdu. For the benefit of scholars and research students, the museum has been publishing catalogues on certain important collections. Also, it functions as a cultural centre for promoting national integration.
The Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, is a treasure trove and offers an informal learning environment. So, your child will benefit from a visit to the place in many ways. It would encourage in your child a love for history, foster curiosity and expose him to ideas and concepts that he never imagined existed before. So, do visit this enchanting place with your child whenever you are in Hyderabad next.
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