Friday, August 18, 2017

Acharya Jogesh Chandra Purakriti Bhawan aka Bishnupur Museum.

The Acharya Jogesh Chandra Purakriti Bhawan aka Bishnupur museum is one stop shop to know what a treasure trove this district has been and is any art lovers holy grail. The ground floor of the museum showcases several foundation stones of temples. The inscriptions on these stones proudly display the name of the King who initiated the constructions. Another section displays stunning terracotta ruins from nearby temples. Remarkable 11th century sculptures with most of them of Adinath portraying Jainism occupy majority of the ground floor of the museum. The Panch Mukhi Ganesha recovered from Damodar rived takes center stage. This Stunning 5 faced Ganesha was a visual treat. Be smart and go around the sculpture to verify if all five faces are there.

Several Jain sculptures from the 11 and 12th Century found in Darakeswar river have made the museum their home now. The first floor of the museum is dedicated to early historic medical period terracotta figurines found in Dihar. We instantly fell in love with cute creations of Pal - sen era pottery and the ones that are in black stand out from the rest. They have rare coin collections dating from 1st Century to British India period. Other artifacts such as bone tools, antler tools and tooth dated to the early historic period are on display. The iconic Bishnupur silk saris with scenes from Hindu mythology woven on them were on display, a few of them dating back 120 to 150 years old. Another interesting collection is naturally dyed miniature paintings from Hindu epics that were used as manuscripts covers and were made of wood. Hand axes made of stone from Paleolithic age, stone tools from Neolithic period, stones depicting name of architect of these stunning monuments were other amazing treasures on display.

Music galleries stands as a fine tribute to music maestros from this region and their personal artifacts and instruments used by them are on display. On the second floor, a very interesting Baluchari saree depicts scenes from Epic Ramayana where Ravan disguised as a sadhu (saint) tempts Sita to cross the Lakshman Rekha and kidnaps her to Lanka and en-route Jatayu is in hot pursuit and fights Ravan.

The only downside to Bishnupur museum was that majority of the artifacts/information was in Bengali. While it is great to promote the regional language, for the benefit of outsiders it would be nice if the information is displayed in any one of the Official languages. The museum works in a very questionable fashion. Though the supposedly working hours are from 11 am to 6 pm, we found the museum locked on a Saturday and after three failed attempts we finally managed to visit it at 1:30 pm. Entry ticket is priced at Rs 5 per person. Photography is prohibited inside the museum. 

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