Museums are enigmatic entities. They hold within themselves many stories and narratives defined by different perspectives. They embody so many institutions and sciences, from geography to archaeology, and history to sociology. Exhibiting tangible and intangible motifs of art, culture and heritage, they are almost like time capsules, documenting the past, analysing the present, and holding innumerable answers to the future.
Since time immemorial, museums have been an integral part of India’s urban landscape. From state-owned museums to private ones, to even house museums and those online, their definition has certainly changed over the years to accommodate interesting and unique themes and perspectives. However, a general misconception among the masses remains that museums are meant for scholars and for school field trips. But a fun heritage walk is all set to change that. Organised by Sahapedia through its outreach programme, India Heritage Walks, the Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum heritage walk on the 31st of March in Raipur will be a riveting experience!
The state of Chattisgarh is just starting to feature on tourist maps. From the breathtaking Chitrakothe Falls to the historic Bhoramdeo Temple, its unique and relatively untapped landscape and rich cultural heritage have certainly become an attraction to travellers. The capital, Raipur, often only becomes a stopover point for access to these sites. But few know that Raipur's history and significance are as fascinating as those of the state and can be explored at the Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum.
Built in 1875 by King Mahant Ghasidas, it is the first museum of Chattisgarh and one of the first ten in the country. The museum was opened shortly after Lord Cunningham of the Indian Archaeological Service discovered the ruins of Sirpur in 1872, and the museum served as the perfect site to display the discoveries. Exhibiting weapons, coins, statues and archaeological sculptures, along with showcases of various tribal cultures found in the region, the museum is a treasure trove of the state’s culture. With lush gardens adorned with traditional statues, the museum has been specially preserved for its legacy and maintained through the efforts of multiple leaders such as Rani Jyoti and her son, Digvijay, who reconstructed the museum in 1953. It was then inaugurated by India’s first president, Dr Rajendra Prasad.
Located in the heart of the city, the Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum is a major centre of culture and education. The museum has a unique identity in the fields of history, archaeology, art and culture studies. In this walk, we will focus on Indian art and iconography and discuss its elements. The pottery section of the museum is especially interesting, for it shows evidence of trade with Rome and other civilisations at the time. The art sculptures that include intricate moulds of Rudra Shiva, Uma Maheshwara and Vishnu, all made of a single stone each, are truly impressive and provide great insights into the artistic styles of the time.
The museum also has a thriving natural history section that provides information about the interesting flora and fauna of the region, along with a folk section that narrates tales and stories from bygone eras. The walk is a great opportunity to listen to these stories and understand if they still hold meaning in our contemporary lives. The museum also regularly holds interactions with folk artisans and craftsmen for us to understand their work and get a deep insight into their lives.
The walk will be a guided experience for participants to learn about ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology in great detail. It is being led by Dhal Singh Dewangan, a student of ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology at the Pt. RSS University, Raipur. A native of the city, Dhal is a prolific storyteller who also serves as an independent guide with the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. He enjoys reading and writing on the arts, culture, history and archaeology of Chhattisgarh.
So join us as we make heritage fun at this unique heritage walk at the Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum.
This guided tour is free.
For more details and registration, click here.
To read more about the rich cultural heritage of Chattisgarh on Sahapedia, click here.