Shimla has many heritage sites and buildings to feel proud of. Each of these places has close association with the yesteryears of Shimla and has been successfully linked the past of Shimla to the present. Museums in Shimla are the ideal places where one can actually get to know about Shimla and whole of Himachal State very well. The collections of these museums date back to centuries ago and help the visitors to understand the cultural heritage, tradition, social and religious practices of a particular time period.
Museums in Shimla have become the places where visitors could appreciate the valuable collections and also go on a virtual historical tour that would help them to know their country well.
About Himachal State Museum
Shimla is proud of many Victorian mansions it has. One of such mansion in Shimla is the location of Himachal State Museum. What used to be a classic Victorian building of the colonial time has now got transformed into one of the best museums of the state. The museum is mounted on the top of the hill, Inveram. The serene surrounding of the hilly area and amazing sight of the distant mountain ranges make the whole place very quaint.
The building was the residence of Lord William Beresford, who was the Military Secretary to Lord William Bentick, the then Viceroy of India. Sir Edwin Collan was the next resident of the building and then Sir Edward Law was the next resident of the building. Sir Edward Law. The building was used as the private residence of the government officials of the British India.
In the year 1972 on 26th January, the building was opened publicly as the State Museum. The ultimate aim was to use the building as the repository of different types of items related to arts, history, archeology and other streams so that the future generation could actually see and feel the richness of their cultural heritage. If our cultural heritage is not getting preserved properly then there are chances that our cultural heritage would become endangered and we may not be able to find a trace of it.
Collection of the Himachal State Museum
The State Museum Shimla has many sections like sculptures, arms, manuscripts, numismatics, anthropology, and paintings.
The Himachal State Museum Shimla has interesting collection of sculptures of all types including metal, stone and wooden. The sculptures kept here depict the religious beliefs of the people of that era and also reflects the tradition and social practices of a particular timer period. There are few collections from 5-6 AD but there are plenty of sculptures from later era. The hill regions of Himachal Pradesh were ruled by Gurjaras and Pratiharas and many of these sculptures are from that time.
Stone image of Devi Durga showing Prasana(happy) Mudra. This sculpture is from 8 AD. Devi is sitting on a lion and has Kumbhbandha as her hairdo. This idol is from Hatkoti. An image of Surya Bhagvan is there in the forms of Sathanka and Sampada. This idol is from Kullu. The image is wearing a tunic and a woolen belt (Zorastrian style) and has lotus stalk in both hands.
An image of Varuna, the God of Wate, is also kept here. The idol is sitting on his “vahana” Makara in Lalitasana posture.
Huge metal images made with silver, gold and other images were found all over the Himachal thereby making the collection of this museum very rich. Many bronze metals are kept here. These metal sculptures had been influenced by the craftsmanship of Kashmir, Pratihara , Katyuri etc. Images of Devi Durga, Mahishasurmardini, idol of Lord Buddha have been found and kept in the museum gallery.
There is one very unique wooden sculpture in this museum. It is from Markula Devi Temple, Udaipur. The idol is from 8 AD. In this idol, Ma Durga is in the form of Mahishasuramardini. Another piece of wooden sculpture is the idol of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. Lord Shiva is wearing a skull cap and Devi has a wheel skirt. Some masks used during dances and dance-dramas are also kept here.
Miniature paintings have been able to illustrate many mythological characters and events of past. Shimla State Museum also has many types of paintings including Pahari and contemporary ones. Some of the miniature paintings are influenced by the Pahari Culture and traditions and social practices of this region. Paintings related to the Hindu epics, Puranas, Ragmala, Gita-Govinda are kept here. Paintings influenced by the Punjab, Rajasthan and other styles are also found here. Many paintings are from the Mughal Era.
Paintings done by the contemporary artists e.g. Sarbjeet Singh, Swminathan Sheila Brunner, Malkiyat Sigh, Ram Kumar , etc. are showcased here along with the paintings from the renowned local artists like Chaman Sharma, Sukh Das, Surjeet Singh, Prabhinder Lal and others.
The anthropology collection of this museum is just the ideal one showing the cultural evolution of Himachal. The collections are there from areas like Spiti, Bharmaur, Kinnaru, Pangi and also from other parts of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir. Dresses, Jewelry, musical instruments etc. are kept in this gallery.
Wood carvings, woven items like dresses, shawls, and caps showcase the culture and tradition of the entire Himachal and surrounding areas.
The culture and tradition of a particular time period is well understood by the coins of that time. Social, political and economic aspects of a particular time period are depicted well through coins. The numismatic collection of this museum has got coins from Maurya Era especially the ones that have punch marks (Arki and Kangra region). Some coins (Indo-Greek coins) from regions like Una, Chamba, Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur are also kept here. Inscriptions are there on these coins. Coins used by different tribes of various regions of Himachal Pradesha re also kept here. Othere coins that enrich the numismatic gallery of this museum are during the rule of Mughals, Sikhs, and Indo-Sassanians.
There is a separate arms collection in this museum that has many types of axes, bows & arrows, swords & shields, guns, pistols etc. This collection will take the visitors on a journey of evolution of arms in India and surrounding places. Guns like Zezail, muzzle guns, pistol etc. are shown here.
The Himachal State Museum Shimla has very encouraging collection of manuscripts. Through these manuscripts, it is possible to find out the missing links of history and past Indian traditions. There are about 248 hand-written manuscripts and most of them are written on papers. Those manuscripts are written on hand made papers of cream color. The scripts used in the manuscripts are Bhoti, Persian, Takari and Devnagri. The ink for writing those manuscripts were made from black soot made out of lamps.
Facilities at the State Museum Shimla
The Himachal State Museum Shimla offers many types of facilities. The various types of facilities available are Library, Laboratory, Exhibition Hall, Seminar Hall and Sales Counter. Exhibitions are organized in the Exhibition Hall and Seminar Hall is used for various types of presentations, seminars and related talks on various subjects. Any kind of art purchase that is possible during the exhibitions or other occasions can be accomplished at the sales counter.
The Himachal State Museum has about 10,000 books, magazines and journals in its library. The collection is very helpful for the scholars and research workers to accomplish various types of projects. There are books on varieties of subjects like history, arts, archaeology, numismatics and others. Books cannot be borrowed but during the library hours, anyone can come here and read these books.
The laboratory of this museum is equipped with all the latest technologies and equipments that are needed for conservation of various art objects and antique items. The staffs working in this laboratory are qualified and trained and they know how to preserve antique objects in their original forms. These staffs also help individuals and other private institutions to preserve all types of cultural properties.
Activities at the State Museum
Many activities are arranged at the Shimla State Museum. Some of these activities are:
Museum Day Celebration
Arrangement of Seminars, Lectures or workshops for various streams like archaeology, arts, etc.
Preservation of antique items and others that actually help in preserving the cultural heritage of our county
Many exploration activities & excavations
Arrangement of All India Exhibition of Arts and Crafts
Individual or Group shows of the contemporary artists
Timing & Entry Fees of Himachal State Museum Shimla
The museum is open on all days except Monday. The time is from 10 am to 5 pm.
Entry Fee: Rs. 10/Indian / Rs. 50/Foreigner Address of Himachal State Museum Shimla
The State Museum is located at Chaura Maidan, Shimla.
Address: The Himachal State Museum Chaura Maidan Shimla Phone no.: 0177 280 5044 Fax: 0177 280 5044 Email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
How to Reach the Himachal State Museum Shimla
As the museum is located at a strategic location, it is easily reachable by bus or taxi. For the visitors who come from outside the city, there are plenty of buses and taxi services available.
The nearest railway station is the Shimla Railway Station that is connected to the Kalka Station, one of the major railway stations of north India through narrow gauge line. Kalka is well connected to the rest of India through rail services.
The nearest airport is the Jubbarhatti Airport Shimla which is only few kilometers away from the city. From Railway Station as well as the airport, plenty of conveyances are available for the travelers.