This is one of the oldest museums in Gujarat. But if you want a glimpse into the past of the region, the Place to come to is the Kutch Museum. It is set on the shore of the beautiful Hamirsar Lake in Bhuj.
A house for wedding gifts
When Maharao Khengarji III, the Maharao of the princely state of Kutch, got married in 1884, the couple received many gifts and artefacts from across the country. These needed a place to be displayed. So, he decided to set up a museum in the existing School of Arts.
In November 1884, the foundation stone was laid for the Fergusson Museum, named after Sir James Fergusson, the Governor of Bombay, who laid the foundation stone for the museum. The two-floor building was constructed in the preferred style of the rulers, Italian Gothic. Set opposite to the Nazar Bagh Garden, the building was designed by Mc Lell and, the state engineer and built by local artisans. The Museum was the private retreat for the Maharaos who showed it only to important guests. The museum was opened to the public only on important occasions.
A museum is born
After Independence, the museum was opened for all to have a peek into the rich history of the region. The two floors of the museum are packed with artefacts that date back centuries.
Rare Treasures on display
One of the most prised possessions is the largest existing collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, dating to the 1st century AD. These are the oldest Kshatrap six inscription-stones, originally found on a hillock called Lashti in village Andhau in Khavda.
The museum also has the only Gujarati Abhir inscription of the 3rd century. It also houses the now extinct Kutchi script (now the Kutchi language is mostly written in the Gujarati script) and an interesting collection of coins, including the Koris - Kutch's local currency till 1948.
A peek into the history of Kutch
The museum, divided into eleven sections, houses artefacts from all the tribes across Kutch and Gujrat. Folk arts, paintings, embroidery, sculptures, metal work, weapons; all the artefacts on display lend insight into the rich heritage of the region.
One of the masterpieces in the museum is of ‘Airavat’ the mythical snow white elephant with seven tusks. The wooden Airavat was carved by master artisan in Mandvi in the eighteenth century. The body of the sculpture is painted with flowers. This sculpture was depicted on a postal stamp of the series ‘Treasures of Museums’ issued by the Indian Government in 1978.
A lesson in History.
A visit to the museum is sure to leave you with a little more knowledge of the colourful region called Kutch.