Forts, palaces and museums are the favourite hotspots on the list of any tourist guide and correspondingly a big no-no when it comes to me. It is no less than a history lesson, not that I don’t enjoy exploring new cities, but if I have it my way, I would just cursorily take a glance at these rich repositories of art and culture,which as my father would say is, thappa laga dena, in order to claim that yes, I have visited so and so museum, at least on paper. Fact remains, I have, but essentially, I haven’t. To state facts, I can bully my parents, make a face and get away but when you have a cronie of girls around you who can take advantage of your midget-like frame and drag you along, what choice are you left with really? And so it happened, ages after the mandatory visits to museums through school picnics, lay ahead the sight-seeing of Jaipur, which began with the Central Museum.
Now, the Albert Hall Museum or the Central Museum is located in the verdant Ram Niwas Garden and was envisioned in 1868 by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II and was executed by his successor Sawai Madho Singh II at a time when Jaipur was making a transition from the feudal era into a modern state. The first thing which came into my mind when driver bhaiyya stopped the car was that he has gotten us to the wrong place. This could possibly not be a museum. It didn’t look the part. This might sound funny, but the entire area looked extremely romantic. Surpirsing that none of our directors have capitalised on the picturesque surroundings of the area.
“I will be across the street, forty minutes should be sufficient for you to look around”, driver bhaiyaa informed us. FORTY MINUTES? Sounded aeons to me. The first impression of the museum had been promsing and as we entered, much to my surprise, the entire complex stood clean and well-maintained.
It becomes pertinent for all tourists to note that an entry pass valid for five monuments,namely, Albert Hall, Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar and Nahargarh Fort can be purchased from here, as well as from the ticket counters of any of these five monuments which are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The cost of the common ticket is Rs. 50/- for Indians and Rs. 300 for foreigners while the concessional rates for Indian and foreign students are Rs. 30 and Rs. 150 respectively. Students, essential must-have is your college identity card, use it to get concessions during entry, just as we did.
The Albert Hall Museum, whose building is an epitome of Indo-Saracenic type of architecture is modeled as per the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It is one of the finest museums of the nineteenth century with a repository of nineteen thousand artefacts with a variety of collection.
The Durbar Hall, which is generally locked, houses the impressive Persian garden carpet that was created in Persia in 1632 and is one of the finest art treasures of India. Sculptures that are on display date back to second, eighth and eighteenth century among which the turbaned lady and a stone Shiva are noteworthy. Museum embellished with numerous miniature paintings which belong to various schools like Bundi, Kishangarh, Hota, Udaipur etc. Majestic portraits of royal Jaipur kings are placed on the first floor of the museum. The groundfloor consists of the equisite brilliance of Metal Art, the gallantry of arms and armours, the brilliance of Indian pottery, and the sheer brilliance of the carpet collection. The first floor contains miniature paintings, clay figures, Rajasthani woodworks, claywares and dresses of kings for special functions.The presence of an Egyptian Mummy in an Indian museum was the most surprising element of the entire tour of the museum.
With unlimited photo-clicks and marvelling at the artefacts, it wasn’t a bad museum memory at all. Or maybe, it was the company of my friends which brought the place alive for me!
Total Cost – Rs. 30
Contributed by Rini Sinha