Discover India - Salar Jung Museum

Salar Jung Museum turns 60 this month. It is one of the largest museums in India and the biggest one-man collection of antiques in the world. Located on Musi River in Hyderabad, this museum is well known for its prized collections and is recognised as an Institute of National Importance.

The Salar Jung museum building is semicircular in shape, with 38 galleries spread on two floors. The present building has an Education Wing, Chemical Conservation Laboratory, Photo Section, Display Section, Reception and a Sales counter.


Its creator

Salar Jung Museum is the passion and dream of Mir Yusuf Ali Khan, also known as Salar Jung III. He was the creator of this exceptional collection. He was then the Prime Minister of Nizam* of Hyderabad. Mir Yusuf Ali Khan spent more than 35 years of his life looking out for precious items. Salar Jung Museum was opened to public on 16 December 1951. The museum was earlier the ancestral palace of Mir Yusuf Ali Khan. It was then known as 'Diwan Deodi'. The private museum was inaugurated by then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1968, entire museum was shifted to its present location.

Museum Highlights

Salar Jung Museum highlights the lifestyle of many civilizations: Indus, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Roman, around the world. It has over 40,000 art items and 50,000 books. The exhibits include Indian art, Islamic art, European displays, Persian carpets and Middle and Far Eastern art. The Indian art collection comprises stone sculptures, metal wares and paintings. The most popular display is 'Veiled Rebecca*' by Italian Sculptor Giovanni Benzoni. The world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca shows her beautiful face hazily visible through a flimsy marble veil. The fine carving of the stone actually gives the impression of a veil over the statue.

Another equally famous sculpture is a 19th century two sided wooden statue done by an Italian sculptor. On the front side there is a Man (Mephistopheles) and on the other side is Margaretta a woman, who is seen reflected in the mirror placed behind. It symbolises good and evil. The same log of wood is used to carve two diametrically opposite characters.

The museum also flaunts Jahangir's dagger, Mughal Empress Noor Jehan's fruit knife, the turbans and chair of Tippu Sultan, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer ware, furniture from Egypt and jewelled swords.

Children's Gallery

A complete gallery is dedicated to small children. The exhibits comprise toys, model trains and puppets from all over the world. Toys have been collected from various countries and displayed here.

Reference Library

There is a vast collection of printed books on various subjects. There is a reference library and a section devoted to rare and ancient Arabic Urdu and Persian manuscripts, including a handwritten miniature Quran.

The Clock Room

The 19th Century British Musical Clock is just one of the exhibits among a collection of more than 300 clocks. The musical clock, which was sold by Cook and Kelvy of England, is a mechanical wonder. A toy figure of a watchman pushes open the door, hour after hour, to beat the melodious gong. There is a 100-year-old clock that is still in perfect working condition.

Founder's Gallery

This section has the personal effects, royal clothes, keepsakes and portraits of Salar Jung and the Nizam on display.

*Nizams' were the rulers of Hyderabad during the middle of the 19th century.
*Rebecca - In the Hebrew Bible, Rebecca is the bride of Isaac. She was covered in a transparent veil during their wedding.

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