National Museum, a treasure trove of art and history!
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National Museum, a treasure trove of art and history!

The section of Harappan civilization will take you down a five thousand years old path.

National Museum, a treasure trove of art and history!

With the scorching summers in Delhi right now, museums are undoubtedly one of the best places to visit. Keeping this in mind CitySpidey is coming up with a series on the museums of Delhi you can visit with your kids.

It was not long ago when school trips to museums were a regular affair and people would actually make their weekend plans about visiting them. Unfortunately, over the years, the footfall in the museums has seen a considerable fall and the Covid pandemic just contributed to this fact. However, the museums of Delhi are back welcoming us with open arms.

Delhi has a rich profusion of history, heritage, art and culture. Every nook and corner of this city has a story to tell. More than that, you can witness ancient art dating back to almost five thousand years in this city, at the National Museum of Delhi.

Also read | Baolis of Delhi, overflowing with heritage and folklore

My recent visit to the National Museum took me to places I didn’t know existed. One of the biggest museums of India, National Museum has an impressive collection of ancient artifacts from across and beyond India. If you’re a history and art buff, the place is a heaven for you.

First things first, the museum is huge and thus, going there in a hurry is not a good plan. There are over two lakhs art objects for you to see. Thus, make sure to visit the place without any time boundation to really experience and appreciate the art. There are chances you might get tired while exploring just the ground floor. Also, don’t forget to carry a water bottle.

Just as you enter the museum, on your left, a magnificent temple chariot will welcome you. Look around and you’ll find several stone sculptures from ancient dynasties placed outside the entry of the main building. The museum captivates you the moment you enter it.

On the ground floor, the museum houses probably the best of its collection. The section of Harappan civilization will take you down a five thousand years years old road. The collection from Harappan civilization includes several ceramics of that era, huge storage pots, pillar bases, bird figurines and what not. However, the most distinctive thing to witness there is a digged grave of Harappan era. All of this gives an insight to how one of the most well planned civilizations might have looked like and is an ode to the genius of those people.

Ceramics of Harappan civilization 
A pillar base of Harappan civilization 
The gallery of Harappan civilization 

The museum also houses the famous ‘the dancing girl’, a bronze sculpture from Indus Valley Civilization that has been a favorite matter of interest for several historians and art critics.

The dancing girl at the National Museum 

You’ll also get a glimpse of sculptures and artifacts from Maurya, Shugna and Satvahan dynasties, followed by Kushana and Gupta art.

Another highlight of the ground floor are the bronze sculptures from South India, which are considered to be one of the highest achievements of Indian art. The Pallava and Chola bronzes are very conventional and dynamic and give a glimpse of the kind of the art that was partonized during those dynasties.

A bronze sculpture at the National Museum 
Bronze sculptures of Devi 
Bronze sculpture of Nataraj 

The ground floor also features Gupta Art and other Early Medieval and Late Medieval Art. There is also a section of Buddhist Art which features several Buddha sculptures. The different interpretations of the head of Buddha is riveting.

If you are fond of fine arts and want to take a look at what paintings looked like in the historic era, the ground floor of the National Museum houses around 17000 paintings featuring almost all important styles of Indian miniature. It feels as if you have stepped into a different era altogether while strolling through the miniature paintings section.

The miniature painting gallrey
The miniature painting gallrey

You can also take a look at some decorative arts on the ground floor. These artifacts will give you a glimpse of the extravagance of the royal life of Indian rulers.

Moving up to the second floor, there is a huge section displaying about 14,000 Indian manuscripts in several languages which are representative of several schools and provinces. Just next to the manuscripts, the Central Asian Antiquities take us on a journey to what art was in Central Asia, ranging from the third to twelfth century.

Bust of a King from Egypt 

On the second floor is the Textiles and Costumes Gallery which displays a magnificent collection of traditional Indian textiles and costumes. There is also a section with around 207 musical instruments on display, segregated in different categories. You can also take a look at various elements of Tribal Lifestyle in North-East Asia, pre-Columbian and western arts, wood carvings and a fine collection of Indian arms and armours.

Needless to say, you may enter the museum with nothing but by the time you leave, you’ll be stepping out with a lot- a rich experience, a visual understanding of ancient art and history and an appreciation for art and how it has evolved over the years.

Note: On the occasion of International Museums day, this story has been replugged.