Museums and Archives in Karnataka; Preservation and protection of historical monuments – work of Archaeological Survey of India – World Heritage Sites in Karnataka.
The concept of museums in India may be traced back to the historic times, in which references to the chitrasala (picture gallery) do occur. The earliest necessity to house objects of antiquarian remains dates back to late 1796 AD when the Asiatic Society of Bengal felt the need to house the enormous collection of archaeological, ethnological, geological, zoological pursuits. However, the first museum by them was started in 1814. The nucleus of this Asiatic Society Museum later provided to the Indian Museum Calcutta.
Museums are the storehouse of manuscripts, sculptures, statues, art, artefacts and everything that is related to the erstwhile past of Karnataka. Karnataka has been an epicentre of South India's economy and culture since the ancient rule. Karnataka has been ruled by so many great dynasties like Kadambas, Gangas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas and great kingdoms Vijayanagara and Mughal. Gallery like Archaeological Museum in Hampi, Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery in Mysore and Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya are home to some of the most spectacular pieces of the art. The Folklore Museum in Mysore exhibits elements of folklore, dance, drama and music.
Mysore and Bangalore are two important towns in Karnataka where museums are in abundance. Other than the art museums that speak about historical sculptures, there are some galleries which tell about science and defence development as well. Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bangalore is an interactive science centre, dedicated to the different science disciplines like space gallery, science centre for kids, engine hall, etc. In short, all the museums of Karnataka portray the history, civilization, culture and heritage of Karnataka.
Famous Museums in Karnataka
Karnataka Government Museum which was opened in 1866 in Bangaluru, is one of the oldest museums of India. It has a painting section called Venkatappa Art Gallery and houses a significant collection of conventional Mysore paintings. The museum contains Halmidi inscription, which is the earliest Kannada inscription dating back to 450 AD. The museum is dedicated to the founder of Bangalore city, Yelahanka Chieftain Kempegowda.
Archaeological Museum (Hampi)- The Archaeological Museum is located at Kamalapura is dedicated to the ruins of Hampi and the Vijayanagara Empire. The Museum in Hampi is the first museum established by the Archeological Survey of India. The museum houses a collection of sculptures and artifacts. It beautifully captures the history of Hampi.
The Jaganmohan Palace, built in 1902 to mark the coronation ceremony of Krishnaraja III, was converted into the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. The museum exhibits the genealogical table of the Mysore kings from 1399 till today, painted in a leaf form in the Mysore style of art.
Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum (Bangalore) is named after Sir M. Visveshwaraya, one of the greatest Indian engineers. The museum is a tribute to his relentless efforts to bring science and technology to the common man.
The museum has a great wealth of folk art and folklore articles on display and is well known as one of the biggest of its kind in Asia. The Tradition museum has one of the most important ethnographic Museums of South Indian toys, puppets and household things.
Railway Museum (Mysore) which established in 1979. This is the second museum of its kind in India. The first one is in Delhi.
Other famous museums are Warship Museum (Karwar), Cubbon Park and Museum (Bangalore), Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya (Mysore), Regional Museum of Natural History (Mysore).
The most famous mausoleum of Karnataka is the Bijapur's Gol Gumbad. Gol Gumbad, a slightly bulbous dome, is the largest in the world after St Peter's in Rome. It was built in AD 1626 by Mohammad Adil Shah. Another one is the Ibrahim Rauza, often described as the finest Islamic building in the Deccan. This modest edifice is the earliest royal Mausoleum in Bijapur. Ali I constructed his own tomb in the fields of the southwest quarter of the city. The tomb is a low, almost square structure and each of its four walls is being pierced by five arches. The burial ground of Tipu Sultan, Gumbaz at Seringapatam, is one of the prehistoric monuments in the state. The mausoleum was originally built by Tipu Sultan to hold the graves of his father Hyder Ali and mother Fakr-UN-Nisa. Gumbaz at Seringapatam is an imposing architecture, located amidst the manicured Lalbagh Garden.
The historical monuments in Karnataka consist of temples as well as ancient city ruins, caves palaces, forts and tombs. Whereas the temples in the state are gems of various forms of architecture and sculpture.The monuments depict the saga of Karnataka’s vast history. This can be traced back from the Indus Valley Civilization in ancient Karnataka as evidence of such monuments are present in large amount in the region. It also has several monuments of third century BC when most of the region was the part of Nanda Empire and later came under the Mauryan Empire of Ashoka's period. Several monuments of Satvahana period had also been unearthed. The deisintegration of Satavahanas gave way for the native kingdoms of the state. These kingdoms such as Kadambas and Western Gangas emerged as an independent power and helped to develop monuments in a separate architectural style. The contribution of the Kadambas in the architectural heritage of Karnataka is precious which was the foundation of the later Chalukya-Hoysala style. .
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), as an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. the prime concern of the ASI is maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance. It also regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
The entire country is divided into 24 Circles for the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance. The organization has a large work force of trained archaeologists, conservators, epigraphist, architects and scientists for conducting archaeological research projects through its Excavation Branches, Prehistory Branch, Epigraphy Branches, Science Branch, Horticulture Branch, Building Survey Project, Temple Survey Projects and Underwater Archaeology Wing.
Different legal instruments exist for the protection of the historical sites, including the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Remains and Sites Act, 1958 (AMASR Act, 1958), AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 and Rules 1959 of the Government of India and Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961. Recently, the Draft (Bill) of Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act, 2001 has been framed to look after the protection and management of the World Heritage Area.
In Archaeological Survey of India also, due to the various explorative investigations that was initiated since the times of its first Director General, Alexander Cunningham, vast quantity of antiquarian remains were collected. The creation of site museums had to wait until the arrival of Sir John Marshall, who initiated the founding of the local museums like Sarnath (1904), Agra (1906), Ajmer (1908), Delhi Fort (1909), Bijapur (1912), Nalanda (1917) and Sanchi (1919).
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