NATIONAL MUSEUM DELHI, RAJPAT CROSSING, NEW DELHI, INDIA.
Delhi’s first Museum.
Two years after independence, when a free India in command of her destiny stepped onto the world stage as a republic nation, she sought to ornament her capital city with landmarks that hitherto had never featured in its 5000 year old past. Among the planned ornamentations was the National Museum Delhi.
The city’s first doorway to the ancient world that came into being after a trial exhibition held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan revealed the people’s love for history and till date remains the largest in terms of displayed collections. En route to the present day, the museum has garnered top reviews for its dedicated involvement in not only procuring, restoring and documenting valuable finds but in introducing modern generations to the skills and craftsmanship of ancestors who with elementary tools left behind awe-inspiring works of art as memos of their times, beliefs and lives.
The National Museum Delhi was founded on the 15th of August, 1949. Its first collection comprised of rare Indian artifacts and was on temporary display at the Burlington Hall, London. The museum was first housed within the walls of the Rashtrapati Bhawan before being shifted to Janpath in 1955 and is currently under the administrative care of the Ministry of Culture.
Largest collection of artifacts.
Though sculptures and paintings make up the bulk of the exhibits, there is also a huge cache of rare finds including a mummified remains of a Harappan dweller from a recently discovered site in Rakhigarhi, Haryana, India (see Farbound.Net story: Who were the Harappans?), uniquely created Gandhara statues of the Buddha (see Farbound.Net snippet: The Greek Buddha), arms and armor from the Mughal armory, coinage from the time of the Mauryan empire and a massive 19th century temple chariot from down south along with a spatter of Colombian art exported in from foreign shores for a varied taste of antiquity.
Visitors interested in learning more about the artifacts can opt for guided tours organised at designate hours or pick up audio guides for an extra fee at the main reception. Selective books can also be purchased at the reception.
The museum houses a library for the use of researchers, academicians and students as mentioned in their website though attendants prohibit casual visitors from entering the premises. Information boards are present at the entrance of designated rooms and near displayed objects. The information displayed is produced from the findings and views of the Indian Archaeology society. Help of curators can be availed for knowing more about the objects.
The museum also provides replicas of fabled objects for a fee, organized exhibitions and seminars to cultivate in present day denizens, a respect for the spectral presence of long departed civilizations that linger out of time but not out of place.
The Museum is located at the Rajpath Crossing, Janpath, New Delhi, India. Closest metro stations are at Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan. Visitors interested in visiting the museum can hire autorickshaws from there. The museum is very close from Connaught Place and can also be reached via an autorickshaw.
The National Museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday -remaining closed on Mondays and government holidays. Video photography is prohibited but still shots are allowed. Entering the building with a camera, however, costs a fee. Security frisking, checking of bags and other personal belongings is to be expected at the entrance.
There is also a small canteen inside for a bit of refreshment and a local vendor serving cigarettes, soft drinks and other edibles behind the bus stop across the road.