Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Shri Bhavani Museum

Shri Bhavani Museum located in Aundh, 48 Kms. from Satara, is perhaps the only museum in the country that has the largest individual collection in the world to have a mix of 500 miniature paintings of all major schools -Jaiput, Kangra, Mughal, Punjab, Bijapur, Pahadi and Maratha schools-of the period between the 15th and the 19th century. 

The Raja of Aundh, the late Bhawanrao Pantpratinidhi in 1938, built the Museum. It is now being looked after by the State Government and is the only museum out of the 13 state museums in Maharashtra, which is housed in a building that was constructed for the purpose of displaying art, and not in a palace.
It's Location

The museum's inconvenient location, atop a 100m high hill at the end of a motorable road inaccessible by public transport has been responsible for it's fading away from the public eye. Yet, the museum records show that about 100 persons visit the museum every day, mostly rural folk from the neighborhood. 

For the rest of the world Shri Bhavani museum remains undiscovered. It is said that the hilltop that keeps people away from the sight of art was, in fact, deliberately chosen by Bhawanrao so that the dust in Aundh and smoke from the village would not affect the preservation of his paintings.
Museum Exhibits

The great collection that the museum exhibits is actually the life's work of Bhawanrao, who during the first four decades of this century spent his time and fortune picking up these masterpieces. The 12 display rooms inside have glass panes on the ceilings for enough sunlight to flow in. Shri Bhavani museum carries a special section devoted entirely to paintings by Bhawanrao himself. And his family carried forward the tradition. 

The museum has a big department of stone created structures including the famous 'Mother and Child' by Henry Moore. Moore's creation was last seen in Delhi nearly 10 years ago when the British Council organised an exhibition of Moore's sculptures. At the time, the Mother and Child sculpture, which was listed in Moore's list as having been sold to the Raja of Aundh, was transported to Delhi. The estimated value was then put at 1.25 lakh and the insurance charges for transportation from Aundh to Delhi and back was a whopping 85,000. The overawed caretakers as well as the descendants of the princely family realised its importance and quickly tucked it away to utmost safety-the strong room. 

The museum has four sections entirely devoted to Western paintings, of which about 150 have been displayed- many of them originals. The works adorning the walls are that of the leading contemporary European masters of the early half of the 20th century, mostly between 1900 and 1938.
The Amazing Original Works

Some of the outstanding original works include the Madonna of the Book by Andrea Del Sarto; a Rembrandt self-portrait, In The Prison Of Aurangzeb by A.H. Muller, Beggar Boy by Bartona Morilla, Franciso by L. Goya, Boy Volunteer by G.G. Hierice, Game of Draughts by F. Morelli, Pairs by Cornil. 

The bronze and marble sculpture section in the courtyard has several miniature marble statues of Greek mythological figures, where Apollo, David and Mercury jostle with Dyna and Venus for space.
Painting Section

The Indian paintings sections too are adorned by stalwarts, including three originals by Raja Ravi Varma-his renowned Sairandhree and the other two are Damayanti and Malyali Lady. Thakur Singh's famous painting of a bathing damsel too adorns the walls of this museum. The works of leading artists of Maharashtra like Baburao Painter, D.L. Haldankar and Rao Bahadur Dhurandhar also find place here. 

The Bengali paintings section includes works of Jamini Roy, Nandlal Bose, Bhuvan Verma and Sadhana Ukil, amongst others. 

In addition the museum houses 4,000 articles of jewellery and other priceless items, including a rare walking stick supposed to have belonged to Emperor Jehangir, made of ivory and studded with 208 rubies, and a 50 paisa coin-sized emerald. 

The handle and the corner of the stick is of pure gold. The Tibetan wall hanging depicting Vishnu is studded with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and crystal and decorated with gold threads.
Tourist Information

Timings: 10.00 am to 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm 
Closed On: Mondays

How to Reach :
Satara Road is the nearest railway station. There are regular buses from Swargate to Satara and buses from Satara to Aundh

Other Museums :
Aga Khan Palace | Bhau Daji Lad Museum  | Coin Museum Nashik | Jehangir Art Gallery | Joshi's Rail Museum  | Kesari Wada | Mahatma Gandhi Museum  | National Maritime Museum  | Prince of Wales Museum  | Raja Dinkar Museum  | Shri Bhavani Museum  | Taraporewala Aquarium 

Do Visit