Salar Jung Museum: What Your Child Should See
Museums play an important role in showcasing the history and culture of a region. With its enviable collection of artefacts, the Salar Jung Museum is a must-visit for every family.
By Hannah S Mathew
History says that the Salar Jung family was one of the noble families of Hyderabad from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. They were great administrators and their ability to maintain cordial relations with other nations bestowed India with an enviable collection of artefacts from around the globe. These pieces now adorn the 38 galleries of the expertly maintained Salar Jung Museum. At just 10 rupees for yourself and 5 for your child, the Salar Jung Museum opens its doors to its pristine galleries between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from Saturday to Thursday!
1. The children’s section boasts of a collection of exquisite toy figurines. This Salar Jung gallery has miniature soldiers from many parts of the world that your child will love. Various cadres of the army are depicted in various moods, including walking dogs, riding horses and driving carriages. The vibrant colours and detailed representations are a wonderful sight indeed.
2. The European clocks’ collection is one of the Museum’s main attractions. One of the most famous objects in the Salar Jung family collection is a 200-year-old musical clock. Visitors throng in hundreds to see mechanised toys strike the gong every hour, on the dot. Watch your child looking in wonder at the detailed toy metal workshop that plays around atop the clock. The shiny metal and well-oiled workings are a testament to the perfect maintenance work.
3. Middle Eastern carpets and calligraphy are revealed in all their elegance in this gallery of the museum. The Salar Jung family has taken great pains to maintain these beautiful samples of Middle Eastern craftsmanship. Young minds will be amazed at the complexity of the patterns, sophisticated weave and quality of the carpets, in spite of the lack of modern-day technology. The calligraphy too is of the finest quality and seems like it has been done only hours earlier!
4. Arms and armoury are a curiosity to all children, regardless of whether they are shocked or amused by what they see. What you need to point out to the young admirers is the state-of-the-art workmanship of the metal workers of the time. These weapons and armoury were handmade more than a hundred years ago and yet they have survived onslaughts of both the battlefield and time. The creativity and ingenuity of these articles cannot go unnoticed.
5. Jade and ivory artefacts are exhibited resplendently in their respective galleries. The miniature jade Quran Stand belonging to Sultan Ilthumish will leave your child wide-eyed. Among the array of hair ornaments, goblets, belt-buckles and figurines of jade and of ivory, is a set of ivory chairs presented to Tipu Sultan by King Louis XVI. The design of this chair is unique because its legs are shaped like those of animals. Your child will understand how royalty spared no expense when it came to fine art. The lavish use of precious material would leave her dumbstruck!
6. Japanese art is something your child needs to see to appreciate the intricate and subtle expressions. The use of gentle pastel shades brings the works to life. Although there are porcelain vases, statuettes, glass paintings, carved images and masks that will fascinate him, ensure that he has a good look at the ‘Waterfall at Nikko’. The finest of Japanese embroidery, this work is an example of such delicate silk needle-work that it looks like a painting!
7. The statue collection at the Salar Jung Museum is probably some of the finest in the country. Two of these stand out as most unique. The first is the double statue of ‘Mephistopheles and Margareta’. The evil and pious figures are engraved on opposite sides of the same statue. A nattily propped-up mirror gives an uncompromisingly beautiful view of both. The second is that of the ‘Veiled Rebecca’, in which marbles chiselled and sanded to muslin-thin texture have been used to create the veil covering the lovely face. Ask your child of how the artisans managed to come up with such quality in the absence of 3D printing and machinery.
8. The freedom struggle gallery will bring alive India’s struggle for independence. The numerous photographs capture the excitement and patriotism of the times with such vigour that it inspires nationalism in the audience. A display of pictures that relate to this pivotal point in Indian history is a must-see for any student of history.
9. The astronomical gallery is an assortment of ancient astronomical equipment, more specifically an unusual number of astrolabes. These 'kings of astronomical instruments' were used to measure astronomical data, independent of daylight. This was an incredible achievement in an age where modern technology was lacking. The Salar Jung Astronomical Gallery’s array is astounding mainly because of its variety.
10. Samurai warriors cast in bronze adorn this gallery in the Salar Jung Museum. Seated, standing, posing for attack and exercising, they are seen in a variety of postures and fashions. Any child’s interest in ancient warfare would be easily evoked by these figurines that display beauty and horror simultaneously.
There’s so much more for experience at the Salar Jung Museum that it can’t all be described in this article. Along with more galleries, the museum also hosts workshops and summer camps. So, don’t let your children miss out on some unique and life-changing experiences that are affordable and available so close to home!
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