Do you love museums? I like them enough to visit a few once in a while. I like it even more if there’s an explanation of how things came to be and their significance.
I had visited Salar Jung Museum over twenty years ago and had a vague memory of it. In our quest to re-explore the city, we revisited this cultural and historical landmark.
It has taken a global pandemic for us to explore local sights in more detail. It shouldn’t have. Instead of lazing around every weekend, or getting tied up with chores, make time to explore the city you’re in. Take a break once in a while. You’ll be duly rewarded, especially in a city like Hyderabad that has so many landmarks, nature spots, monuments, and ruins. You’ll never fall short of things to do.
Salar Jung Museum
The Salar Jung Museum Hyderabad is considered to be the third biggest museum in the country. It was established in 1951 and now houses the largest ‘ one-person collection’ in the entire world.
It was brought into the limelight recently when a precious artefact was stolen from here. Thankfully, it was soon recovered without damage, with the most relatable excuse for stealing it – the two friends just wanted a taste of Nizami luxury!
Spread over two floors, the Salar Jung Museum has 38 galleries displaying over a million artefacts. Apart from the main galleries, there are reading rooms, libraries, a sales counter, and a cafeteria.
The museum houses a lavish collection of artefacts, manuscripts, sculptures, carvings, and paintings. Some items date back to the 4th century. The collection is credited to the efforts of Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, known as the ‘Salar Jung III’. The galleries consist of Indian Art, Far Eastern Art, European Art, Middle Eastern Art, Children’s Art, the Founders gallery, and a rare manuscript section.
Treasures of Salar Jung Museum Hyderabad
Salar Jung Museum boasts of close to 43,000 art objects, 9,000 manuscripts and 47,000 printed books. Some of the treasures at the Salar Jung Museum are the clothes of Tipu Sultan, daggers of Shah Jahan and Jehangir embedded with precious gems, Aurangzeb’s sword, and a painting of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
A vintage clock acquired from British clockmaker Cook and Kelvey Co. is the star attraction at noon. With over three hundred parts, the classic clock has a man in a robe that comes out from an enclosure and hits a bell, signifying the time of the day. We were left a little underwhelmed by this. We were expecting something much grander. If you do want to see it, make sure to get a seat in the front row so you can actually see what’s happening.
The Veiled Rebecca is a masterpiece crafted by Italian sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni in 1876, who created only four pieces of the Veiled Rebecca, all of which are displayed in various renowned museums across the globe.
Rebecca is sculpted in a life-size image behind a transparent veil, and her pedestal is carved out of a single marble slab. Salar Jung I bought the sculpture in 1876 on a trip to Italy. It is a gorgeous piece to behold and was the highlight of the museum for me.
The Chandeliers of Salar Jung Museum
While you’re busy admiring the museum galleries, don’t forget to look up. Colourful glass chandeliers adorn the arched ceilings and hallways.
Treasuring our rich culture and history
After having visited famous museums abroad, I was sceptical about the maintenance levels in Indian museums. I have visited so many Indian museums in varying stages of disrepair. It’s heartbreaking to see rare treasures languishing in corners without proper care.
Many museums in India have finally woken up to this fact and are actively renovating and taking better care of belongings in their charge. It might be too late for many items, but hopefully, going forward, the rest of the pieces won’t meet the same fate.
Salar Jung Museum Entry Fee and Visiting Hours
The entry fee is Rs 20 for adults and Rs 10 for kids aged 5 to 18 years. School children can enter for free with school ID cards. Photography, even with a smartphone, is charged at Rs 50. You can purchase this along with your entry ticket.
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Fridays and public holidays.