This goes back to a bright early morning in Hyderabad. Having had the day planned in advance for exploring the heritage sites of Hyderabad and the local market areas; some inquiring with the locals about some ought to visit places and we were out to visit the first one for the day.
Being in Hyderabad and not venturing out to learn and experience a bit of the Nizami heritage would be a total waste. The Nizam’s if you know were a monarchial power who ruled from 18th century through the 20th. I thought the best place to fulfill this purpose of experiencing the Nizami history would be to visit a museum. So, The Salar Jung Museum it was then.
The Salar Jung Museum is situated In Dar-ul-Shifa on the banks of river Musi. A visit here can be paired along with a visit to Charminar and to the Old Hyderabad area since they lie within close proximity. Getting here is not a problem as it can be very easily accessed by local transport as well.
A peek into the history-The museum holds artifacts which were collected by Nawab Mir Yosuf Ali Khan who was also known as Salar Jung III, the Prime minister of Hyderabad during the Nizami period. He was an avid collector of antiques and artifacts and spent almost 40 years of his life in collecting these items from all around the world especially from Asian, European and far Eastern countries. The museum when established in 1951 was initially housed in ‘Dewan Deodi’- the ancestral palace of the Salar Jung’s and was later shifted to the current structure in 1968.
Our transport dropped us just at the door step of this massive beyond words, white washed monument. As we entered there it was, this massive structure. The museum, we learnt is made up of three blocks and each one having two floors of exhibits. The first thing we headed to was the ticket counter. Tickets when we visited (November 2019) was INR 20/- and camera charges separate (INR 50/-). For Foreign visitors it was around INR 500/-
We got to know that the museum houses 38 galleries in total and has around 13,000 artifacts on display. These mostly range from paintings to sculptures, textiles to metal wares, cravings, manuscripts and ceramics and even ammunitions. The museum also has a reference library and a chemical conservation lab as well.
A guide through the galleries-The first gallery we happened to enter covered the life of the founder-the Salar Jung and his family. Paintings, portraits and sculptures revolving around his life provided a clear life sketch.
Further ahead was the section containing South Indian bronze statues. This section contained beautiful temple bells, lamps, Nataraj sculpture and much more. As we moved ahead to the next sections the whole place had an array of items on display, one more gorgeous than the other. There were wood carvings and sections of Metal ware and Ivory carvings as well.
By now we had really lost track of where we was heading as it all seemed like a confusing beehive, but a well organized one. We landed up to the section of Indian textile which displayed the famed Kalamkari and the Bandhani textile which was rich and gorgeous beyond description.
Our next target was the Ivory work section which housed what I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw-intricately carved Ivory horns, chairs made of Ivory and all sorts of ivory made stuff. Though I’m not a fan of such items made out of animal parts I decided to move out soon.Further ahead we came across a huge display of antique arms and ammunition, guns, pistols and other gloriously decorated weapons- spears and bows and so much more. I personally loved this one and posing out like a gangster for some pictures was super fun.
There were other galleries as well which are far better experienced than spoken about-like the Bidri gallery. Bidri is a craft wherein the carved designs are filled with gold or silver pieces. The artifacts look stunning with the golds work on dark background and at some point I was tempted to take one home because they were just so gorgeous.(But I would truly never do that😋). There was also this gallery which had artifacts adorned with a semi precious stone-Jade.
The next few galleries took us on a tour to the Middle East with Middle Eastern carpets and Persian and Arabic manuscripts. There was a gallery with Syrian and Egyptian artifacts as well which we just brushed through. Chinese, Japanese and European art and paintings has also made a prominent place in the museum. The European category especially holds a huge collection of statues, clocks, paintings, glassware, and bronze sculptures and has a dedicated gallery for the same.
There was so much to see around and take it but with less time in hand and we had to rush out. Truly this museum had so much to see that you frankly need more than two hours for a dedicated tour. It’s a well maintained and organized museum and kudos to the state government for conserving such heritage so well. It’s one place worth visiting around here if you’re into museums and stuff.