One way to step back in time is by discovering India's rich cultural
heritage. Do that amidst the artefacts at the Salarjung Museum in
One of the most interesting haunts on a hot afternoon in Hyderabad is
the Salarjung Museum. The museum is a must see for the historically
inclined or those who just want to while away time taking in
interesting artefacts. It is renowned for the wide range of artefacts
that it showcases and the various time periods it covers.
Being one of the most prestigious museums in Hyderabad,
India, the Salarjung Museum, is located on the bank of the river Musi
at Afzalgunj. The museum boasts of a stunning collection of 43,000 art
objects and 50,000 books and manuscripts. All of these are from the personal collection of the late Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III (1889-1949), former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad.
The Nawab spent a sizeable fortune in amassing this collection over
thirty years. It was originally showcased at his ancestral palace Diwan
Deodi, before it was shifted to the current museum location in 1968.
The collection is notable not only for its size but also for its
variety. You will find the museum open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all
days except Fridays.
What catches your eye, when you first step into the
museum, is the blend of modern architecture and ancient past. That it
is one of India's better maintained museums, is evident from the time one steps into the main lobby area. The museum is built in a semi-circular
fashion and has 38 galleries which are spread over two floors. Visitors
are sure to be astounded at the sheer size of the Nawab's collection,
especially when they realise that the entire collection is never
entirely on display at any given time.
The ground floor of the museum holds around 20 galleries while the
second floor houses the remaining 18. Each gallery showcases a part of
the immense collection and is named to reflect its unique contents. For
example, there is the Founder's Gallery, which has the personal effects, royal clothes, keepsakes and portraits of Salar Jung and the Nizam on display.
Nature of artefacts on display
The museum has a fine balance of Indian and foreign artefacts. These
artefacts range from textiles, idols and sculpture to miniature art
work, paintings, etc. Some of the most renowned works in the museum
include the sculpture of the veiled Rebecca, a double figure by famed
Italian sculptor G.H. Benzoni and the Arabic Al Quran.
Jade and the sword
The museum also boasts of exquisitely crafted jade knives,
including ones that were owned by the Mughal emperor Jehangir and his
queen, Nurjahan. These are but some of the many wonders which adorn the
Jade room. Other jade artefacts that one shouldn't miss include the
jade wine bowl and wine cup sets with intricately carved leaf and
flower motifs adorning them. There is even the jade book stand of
Altamash, which dates back to 1209â€”10 AD.
For those interested in weapons, the museum has an extensive gallery dedicated to them. It showcases ancient guns, daggers, shields and swords.
Weapons belonging to Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, Tippu Sultan and
Mohammad Shah are few of the priceless exhibits that the public can
view in this gallery.
Time stands still when you visit the clock room and take
in the numerous time pieces from around the world. There are clocks of
all shapes and sizes, hailing from France, Germany, Italy and
Switzerland. The centre piece of this gallery is the musical clock by
Cook and Kelvy of England.
Apart from its galleries, the museum offers a number of services. These
include a well-stocked reference library and reading room. There are
also sections in the museum dealing with educational publications. Salarjung museum even has its own chemical conservation lab to ensure that the entire collection is kept well maintained and
protected. For those who want to take a little something of the museum
with them home, there is the souvenir counter. A cafeteria also gives
respite to the thirsty and hungry families that spend their day at the