Gallery Visit

Regional Crafts gallery -1 

The major collections of this gallery pertaining to Krishna theme consist of a variety of art objects such as woodcarvings, metal casting, and ivory carvings. The wood carver evolves his style according to the qualities of the wood. The gallery comprises a wide range of wooden sculptures mostly from Odisha, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Interesting among the wooden objects displayed here are the four wooden panels showing the incarnations of Lord Vishnu and scenes from Krishna's early life. The style is typical of Orissa and belongs to the 18-19th century AD. The other prominent wooden panels from Odisha displayed here are depicting the childhood exploits of Krishna i.e. Aristhavadha (Krishna killing a bull demon), Kesivadha (Krishna killing a horse demon), Putanavadha (Krishna killing demoness Putana), Kubjanugraha (Krishna curing a hunch backed lady) etc. 

The notable wood carvings from Tamilnadu displayed in the gallery include some stylistically massive and thematically interesting specimens such as Venugopal (standing cross-legged with a flute held in both hands), Dasavatara (ten incarnations of lord Vishnu), Kaliyamardana (Krishna subduing a serpent called Kaliya). Among the wood carvings from Karnataka a sandalwood carving displays Krishna as Venugopal on one side and other side displays exquisitely carved image of Gajendra Moksha (Vishnu rescuing the elephant). 

The other important display of this gallery are the metal objects which include various exploits of Krishna such as Bal-Krishna, Yashoda-Krishna, Navanita-Krishna, Venugopala, Krishna with gopis, Kaliyamardana, Krishna with Rukmini and Satyabhama, etc. Notable among the metal sculptures are Kaliyamardana from Tamilnadu, and Yasoda with Krishna and Balarama and Varaha Avatara from Ganjam (Odisha).

Among the notable ivory collections of this gallery is a beautiful ivory figure of Krishna standing in tribhanga pose. Some smaller pieces showing scenes from Krishna's life are also displayed here. Special notice should be taken of an ivory plaque with the painting of the Govaradhana scene in late Mughal style, c.18th century CE. 

Archaeological gallery - 2

Kurukshetra is known for its association with Vedic culture at the fag end of which the Mahabharata battle was fought in its planes. So, an attempt has been made to display the different archaeological periods of greater Kurukshetra. Kurukshetra has a rich heritage of art, architecture and culture as revealed by its artifacts in the forms of stone icons, terracotta, potteries and architectural members. Museum houses remains of the Harappan, Painted Grey Ware (often associated with Mahabharata period) and subsequent Historical periods. The archaeological artefacts recovered from excavations of the mature Harappan sites like Banawali, Kunal, Bhirdana, Balu, Rakhigarhi etc. are also displayed here. Besides this, some exquisite stone sculptures on Krishna-Vishnu theme ranging from 1st to 12th cent. CE recovered from various parts of Haryana and other places associated with Krishna are also displayed here. However, the prime attraction of the archaeological section of the museum is antiquities recovered from legendry city of Dwarka which was the capital of Yadavas during Mahabharata times. The under water excavations at Dwarka and on shore Dwarka coast reveal some important evidences of the submerged city of Dwarka. Both the under water and on shore excavated materials from Dwarka are on display. It includes the potsherds of proto-historic and early historical period, conch shells, bangles and a seal showing a composite figure of Bull, Goat and Unicorn and two stone anchors. The date of ancient Dwarka or submerged Dwarks is 15th cent. BCE as confirmed by the occurrence of Late Indus potteries, conch shells and the late Indus seal and the Late Indus script found in one of the earthen jars so says the excavator Dr. S. R. Rao. 

The most important sculpture on display is a Kushana sculpture of Ekanamsa recovered from Faridabad belonging to C. 1st century CE. It shows the figures of Balarama, Ekanmsha (sister of Krishna & Balarama) and Krishna. Another unique image is of Hari-Pitamaha, made of buff sandstone, C. 9th cent. CE. It is a rare composite image of Vishnu and Brahma. Two enlarged replicas of an Indo-Greek copper coin issued by the kind Agathocles in 2nd cent. BCE found from Ai-khanum in Afghanistan shows Balarama and Krishna on the overse and reverse. This happened to be the earliest representation of Krishna in the Indian art and iconography. Hence, it has a lot of significance from the point of view of the origin of art of Krishna in India on one hand and the development of the Bhagavata religion in the 2nd cent. BCE in Afghanistan region on the other. 

Miniatures and Manuscripts gallery - 3

This gallery contains some exquisite miniature paintings, palm leaf etchings and some illustrated manuscripts. The cynosure of all eyes is on the collection of Pahari and Rajasthani paintings and the Pattachitras from Odisha on the octagonal parapet wall depicting the episodes of Mahabharata.
The major attraction of the gallery is a set of twenty six late Kangra miniature paintings on Mahabharata and Gita theme. The other notable objects displayed in this gallery are some palm leaf etchings from Odisha are showing the exploits of Krishna and ten popular incarnations of Vishnu.

On the octagonal parapet wall of this gallery eight paintings (Pattachitras) depicting important episodes from the Bhagawata and the Mahabharata are displayed. Pattachitra is a painting tradition of Oriya folks. These are done on cloth which should not be coarse or too thick. The cloth should be coated with soft stone powder and gum prepared from tamarind seeds. This treatment in fact helps the cloth to absorb paints. The episodes depicted here are the abduction of Rukmini by Krishna, Bhima tearing apart the body of Jarasandha, Krishna beheading Shishupala, Krishna in Kurukshetra on the occasion of solar eclipse, Duryodhana and Arjuna seeking help of Krishna for the battle of Mahabharata, Krishna giving life to newly born child Parikshit, Krishna as an envoy in the court of Dhritrarashtra and Sages cursing Yadava princes. 

In the same gallery Thanjavur paintings from Tamilnadu have also been displayed which have brilliant colour scheme with an extensive use of gold leaf and semi precious stones. The theme of child Krishna constitutes the main subject-matter of these paintings.
The illustrated manuscript collections of the gallery include the rare Yoga Vashistha in Gurumukhi, Bhagwata Purana in Sanskrit, Bhagwata Purana in Braj/Khari Boli written in Persian script, Bhagwadgita and Ashwamedha Parva of Mahabharata in Sanskrit.

Regional Theatrical Art gallery - 4

In this gallery three tableaux i.e. Shanti Parva of Mahabharata, Heroic death of Abhimanyu and Cosmic dance of Krishna on theatrical art tradition of India have been executed.

The Shanti Parva of Mahabharata shows Bhishma on the bed of arrows who is a unique character of the Mahabharata. His high moral stature, wisdom and valour is still a perennial source of inspiration to mankind.  The tableaux depicts the episode of Bhishma’s discourse on Rajdharma (statecraft). The execution of the tableau is in Rajasthani style of theatrical art. The central figure of Bhishma is surrounded by standing Pandvas and Kauravas after the end of Mahabharata battle. Some seers and sages have also been depicted here who attended the discourse of Bhishma which was delivered by him to Yudhishthira. This attractive tableau comprises twenty life size mannequins made of papier mache.

The heroism of Abhimanyu is showcased in another tableau of this gallery which shows unparallel and incomparable valour of the young warrior who fought alone with the seven powerful warriors, such as Dronacharya, Duryodahna, Karna, Shalya, Duhsashana, Jayadratha and Brihadbal. He was entrapped in the Chakravyuha (a circular battle formation) formed by Drona and unrighteously killed by the seven great Kaurava warriors. The tableau is presented in Yakshagana style, a famous folk theatre of Karnataka, combining dance, music and dialogue.

The tableau of Raslila (cosmic dance) executed in Manipuri style is another attraction of the gallery. Manipur situated on the northeastern corner of India, is an important stronghold of Vaishnavism. Krishna-worship seems to be an age-old tradition in Manipur. Krishna playing flute is shown in the center of six maidens which represents the human souls while Krishna is supposed to be the cosmic or supreme soul.

Among the other exhibits displayed in the gallery are leather shadow puppets from Andhra Pradesh which depicts both Pandavas and Kauravas, the protagonists and antagonists of Mahabharata. Puppetry is a popular Indian theatrical tradition since early times, which is symbolic. It emphasizes certain traits of a particular character and these puppets are fashioned accordingly. A person of might and valour is represented having broad shoulders and a large head. Tyrannical persons have slim bodies and disproportionate features. The gods and heroes are shown comparatively large in size. The puppets displayed in the gallery are made of deer and goat skin.

Besides, there is a fine collection of Madhubani paintings on paper which stands on the parapet wall of the gallery. There are eight murals with a suitable background of mud wall by using a coat of clay mixed with paper pulp on ply board. These panels show a sequence of major events of Krishna's life from his birth to the episode of Kamsa vadha (Krishna killing king Kamsa). Opposite to the Madhubani painting is another parapet wall which displays patachittras, folk paintings of Odisha depicting the scenes from the Mahabharata and Harivamsa Purana.
Regional Murals gallery - 5

Aims and objectives of the Museum as its name suggest is to present and preserve all that is pertaining to Krishna. Mahabharata, the epic poem is an important subject for narrating the life and exploits of Krishna. He is the pivotal figure in the Mahabharata and the whole story revolves around him only. Therefore, without highlighting the episodes of the Mahabharata the exhibition of Krishna museum would have been incomplete. In view of this, the museum was looking for a beautiful collection of works of art on the episodes of Mahabharata. Incidentally, the Mahabharata Utsav-2002, celebrated at Kurukshetra on the occasion of annual Gita Jayanti Festival enabled the museum to acquire these wonderful collections of murals executed in different styles on Mahabharata from different cultural zones of India for their display in this gallery. The murals of Mewar, Kishangarh and Phad styles of Rajasthan, Aipan style of Uttrakhand,  Sanjhi style of Uttra Pradesh and Hrayana, Tanjore style of Tamilnadu, Pattachitra of Odisha, Varli and Pinguli Chitrakathi styles of Maharashtra, Gwalior and Chitravan styles of Madhya Pradesh, Kangra style of Himachal Pradesh, Vijaynagar and Leather shadow puppet styles of Karnataka, Madhubani style of Bihar and Chumar Chitram style of Kerala finds representation in this gallery.

Bhagwata gallery- 6

 The gallery houses nine tableaux depicting the episodes of the life and exploits of Krishna. The episodes are, birth of Krishna, Krishna stealing butter, Krishna killing the crane demon, Bakasur, Krishna lifting mount Govardhana, Krishna subduing serpent Kaliya, Rasa, the cosmic dance, Krishna killing Kamsa, Krishna with Radha on the occasion of solar eclipse at Kurukshetra and Krishna delivering the eternal message of Gita to Arjuna. The mannequins of these tableaux are made of papier mache and clay. Sound and light effect has been given to all the tableaux to make the display more attractive and informative.

Multimedia Mahabharata Gallery- 7-8 & 9

Kurukshetra is popular for its association with the battle of Mahabharata and deliverance of the sermon of Srimad Bhagawadgita. The epoch ending battle of Mahabharata was fought in the hallowed plains of Kurukshetra for eighteen days between two diametrically opposite forces of Kauravas and Pandavas at the end of Vedic period. The epic is symbolic of the ultimate triumph of righteousness over evil or unrighteousness. The Mahabharata narrative leaves an indelible impression being deeply entrenched in the psyche of the people.

The Mahabharata is a maha-kavya or a great epic comprising more than one hundred thousand verses or slokas. It is a treasure house of Indian wisdom and knowledge, therefore, traditionally it is also called  Pancham or fifth Veda. In addition to being an epic, the Mahabharata contains a collection of writings on a broad spectrum of human learning including ethics, law, philosophy, history, geography, genealogy and religion. It also features a number of legends, moral stories and local tales - all woven into an elaborate narrative.

With a view to impart ideas and ideals enshrined in the Mahabharata and to enlighten the people through the philosophies of  Krishna, Bhishma, Vidura and other ancient philosopher and seers in state-of-the-art manner. The gallery is extended over three floors adjoining the second block of Srikrishna Museum building with entrance through the second floor of the existing museum building.

The Gallery is an attempt to present the story of the Mahabharata in a linear fashion. An "experiential space" has been created herein by using different media. Through murals, mannequins, paintings and scenographies the story of Mahabharta has been depicted in an emphatic and effective way.

The gallery begins with the episode of snake sacrifice of Janmejaya, the son of Parikshit and great grandson of Arjuna who organize the sacrifice to take revenge of his father's death from Nagas. Sage Vaisampayana, the disciple of Vedvyasa recited the story of Mahabharata to king Janmejaya after completion of the sacrifice. The whole episode is depicted here through relief work in front of which lies a fire alter. This is followed with the love episode of kind Shantnu, and river goddesses Ganga. Devvrata, the eighth son of the couple is shown here taking a great vow for the favour of his father. Thereafter, he was known as 'Bhishma'- the terrible.

One huge scenograph of the gallery showcases the story of abduction of Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, the three daughters of king of Kashi by Bhishma. The last two of them were married to Vichitravirya, the crown prince of Hatinapur. They gave birth to Dritarashtra and Pandu. Another relief works display the Kaurava and Pandava princes in the tutelage of Guru Drona, where they were trained in martial arts. Lakshgraha (palace of lacquer on fire) episode of Mahabharata reveals the extreme of enmity as Kauravas made the house of lacquer for Pandavas in a distant part of their kingdom to destroy them by putting fire to the palace when the later were sleeping inside in the night.

The next episode depicts the selection of bride or swayambar of Draupadi, where Draupadi was won by Arjuna after accomplishing the condition i.e. shooting the eye of a revolving metal fish kept above the post while seeing its reflection on the basin filled with liquid below. However, the major attraction of this gallery is Mayamahal, a palace, which according to Mahabharata was built at Indraprashtha (present day Delhi) by Maya for the Panadavas.

At the fag end of this gallery is depicted the Game of Dice being played by Shakuni, the maternal uncle of Duryodhana and Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava in the court of Dhritarashtra. In this infamous game of Dice in Hastinapur, Yudhishtra lost everything and as a result had to go in exile with his brothers and Draupadi for twelve years. Consequent upon the period of exile the Pandavas were also to live in agyatvasa (in a state of hidden identity) for a period of one year.

At the ramp leading to the next gallery, the episode of dialogue between Yaksha and Yudhisthira is on display. To make the exhibit interactive and entertaining a kiosk has been installed here wherein one can give the answers of the questions raised by Yaksha to Yudhisthira. If someone gives the answers of all twenty questions rightly, then unconscious Pandvas lying on the bank of the lake get alive. The other side of the ramp shows Pandavas serving in the court of King of Virata with their hidden identities. The episode of humiliation of Draupadi by the the hand of Kichaka, the commander and relative of King Virata is also shown here.

On the same ramp is depicted the scene of Krishna’s efforts for maintaining peace in the court of king Dhritarashtra at Hastinapur. This attempt of Krishna went in vain as Duryodhana refuses to part with even an inch of land to the Pandavas.

The next gallery (gallery- 8) is for audio-visual show on Gita. This eleven minute show is the major attraction of the Mahabharata Gallery. Through this show, the otherwise difficult philosophy of Gita is communicated to common audience in the manner they can understand its contents.

The last gallery of the museum comprises a huge circular battle formation called Chakravyuha. After Bhishma's fall in the Mahabharata, Dronacharya was appointed as the supreme commander of the Kaurava army. On the thirteenth day of the war, the Kaurava army formed itself into the Chakravyuha formation and lured Arjuna away to battle on the opposite end of the field. Abhimanyu, Arjuna's son, was the only Pandava warrior who was able to penetrate the formation but he had no clue of how to get out of it. Abhimanyu  was killed in the Chakravyuha. A round to the gallery introduces the visitor to arrayed soldiers inside the chakravyuha in form of paintings.

The other episodes in the gallery through relief works and scenographs depict the assassination of Dronacharya by Drishtadhymna, the commander in chief of Pandavas, the tragic end of Karna,  duel between Bhima and Duryodhana, humiliation of Ashwathama and Gandhari cursing Krishna. Before leaving the mortal world, Bhishma gave a discourse to Yudhisthira on anushasan (discipline) and rajdharma ( the statecraft). The audience can also hear the eulogy of Vishnu (Krishna) sung by Bhishma known as ‘Vishnu Sahshranama’ in this gallery.

The other episodes of Mahabharata displayed in this gallery include the horse sacrifice of Pandavas, departure of Dhritrashtra, Gandhari and Kunti to the forest hermitages, Krishna leaving the mortal world and journey of Pandavas to the heaven.

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