Colour, culture, commotion; the capital city of one of India’s most flamboyant states, Rajasthan is a delightful medley of contrasts. One of the most visited cities by not only Indians but also foreigners, Jaipur offers some fascinating sights that span history, art, architecture and religion. While the city palace, Hawa mahal, Amer fort and Jantar Mantar are some of the most popular sites, the city is home to many museums that capture the essence of Rajasthans’ famed art, culture and tradition. Here is a look at some of these museums which must be on your list if you are someone who prefers travelling the offbeat path.
Museum of Legacies: a trip into Rajasthans’ cultural heritage
A relatively new museum run by the Department of Archaeology, located in Kishanpole Bazar in the heart of the pink city, the Museum of Legacies is housed in a 200-year-old building that was the home of Pandit Shivdeen a minister of the erstwhile Jaipur State. The museum is spread over 10000 square meters and has five galleries, that displays the cultural heritage of Rajasthan across textiles, jewellery, stoneware, painting and pottery. The museum has a large courtyard around which there are several rooms each of which house a different art and craft all of which have a Rajasthan connect.
The jewellery section curated by Sudhir Kasliwal includes Brij Bhasin’s collection of Everyday Embroideries, Mitch Crites’s semi-precious stone and marble works and Pichvai paintings by Pooja Singhal. There is also a display of Bhil paintings put together by Ojas Art. The top most level has two massive puppets made by renowned puppeteer Vicky Bhatt. The museum itself has been housed in a restored building and will soon house a fine-dining restaurant, a cafe and gift shop.
There are plans to start art workshops, summer student programmes and live performances soon. The idea behind this museum is to give a space that showcases many of the traditional arts and crafts of Rajasthan under one roof. When you are here also look out for the marble jali and Chhipkali Pakshi artwork. If you are a lover of heritage this museum is a must see as it will give you a broad idea of the crafts of the region.
Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing: a lesson in block printing
The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing has been started by Anokhi the store and is an ode to Rajasthan’s famed art of hand block printing. Situated in a 400 plus year old haveli near Amber Fort, this bungalow is said to have belonged to the palanquin bearers of the royals and has been painstakingly restored. Apart from permanent collections, there are ongoing exhibitions as well. Primarily dedicated to block-printed textile the museum has several displays that are dedicated to the textiles of the region.
The three storied building has several textiles on display and has both ethnic and western clothes that show the hand block work on the garments. The museum has multiple sections that take you through the restoration of the haveli, a section for regional textiles, natural and chemical dyes, block printing, carving tools, gold and silver printing as well as a demonstration area where you can also try your hand at block printing. This is incidentally a very popular activity here with both adults and kids alike and an artisan can teach you how to do it too.
Each section has detailed documentation as well, so you can explore the entire place on your own. The museum has over 100 garments and blocks on display. Apart from promoting hand block printing, the museum also organises craft workshops for people. And if you looking for a souvenir pick it up at the museum shop that has a curated set of hand-crafted merchandise.
Located again in a beautifully renovated 18th century haveli, the Turban museum is housed within the same complex as Surabhi restaurant in Subhash Chowk. Curated by Dharam Vir Singh Rathore of Bhagwanpura, Nagaur, the museum has an exhaustive display of turbans which is a quintessential symbol of Rajasthani culture. Apart from Rajasthan, there are turbans from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat also on display.
The museum captures various nuances of turbans including the different types and their relationship with the season, festival and occasion. Turbans worn at weddings in different regions, turbans worn according to age and community whether business men, tribals, musicians etc are also on display. When here do not miss out on rare headgear which include the longest turban at 44 meters worn in the Nagaur region and a turban worn by Jains during a 12-day mourning period in case of death of a dear one.
This article was originally published in Sakal times here.