Sri Krishna Museum in Kurukshetra

      The Sri Krishna Museum is located in the heart of the town Kurukshetra, close to Brahma Sarovar. As the name suggests, it is centred around the multifaceted personality of Lord Krishna. It shows different episodes from His childhood and His philosophy in the form of paintings, sculptures and manuscripts. The Museum was established by Kurukshetra Development Board in 1987 and shifted to the current location in 1991. A board at the entrance of this museum states, The aim of setting up the museum is to think about the cultural and moral resurgence among the people through the ideas and ideals of the multi-faceted personality of Sri Krishna and to also exhibit materials concerning the Mahabharata and Kurukshetra regions.

      The museum has six galleries, spread across three floors in two blocks. Though each gallery is quite distinct from the other, the underlying theme is the same it is Lord Krishna. Though the museum has numerous artifacts related to Kurukshetra and Krishna, it is known as Krishna Museum because he is the Protagonist of the Kurukshetra war and the rest of the characters revolve around Him. Abundant archaeological material, unearthed from Kurukshetra and surroundings, are also on display here. These include an excellent collection of artifacts like idols, seals, coins, and pottery that date back to the era of Krishna and the Harappan civilization.

First Gallery

      This gallery is on the ground floor. It consists of sculptures made from a variety of materials like wood, bronze, and ivory. Most of these are from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. There are various idols of Krishna, Balarama, Radha, Rukmini, Satyabhama, and Yashoda. There are idols that show scenes from Krishna's life and some of the famous depictions include Yashoda scolding a naughty Krishna, Krishna killing Putana, Krishna defeating Kaliya, Krishna killing Aghasura, Krishna killing Nikumbhasura, and Krishna preaching the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. I saw many wooden doors and panels that showed scenes from Krishna's life. There was a beautiful painting of Krishna performing the Ras Lila with Radha and the gopis. Krishna had multiplied Himself into many forms and each form was dancing with a gopi in a circle, with the original Krishna dancing at the centre with Radha.

Second Gallery

      The second gallery is also on the ground floor, almost an extension of the first gallery. It consists of archaeological objects belonging to the Harappan civilization from 2400 B.C. to 1700 B.C. There is also a section on artifacts discovered during underwater excavations at Dwarka. The Kurukshetra region was on the banks of the rivers Saraswati and Dhrishadwati and is believed to be an integral part of the Harappan civilization. The artifacts from Harappan civilization include idols of Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Bhoo Devi, Varaha, Yogamaya, Vishnu with Lakshmi, Seshashayi Vishnu, and Garuda. There are exhibits that consist of seals, coins, terracotta statues and potteries belonging to the Harappan era. One section of the hall has antiquities like carvings, pots, bowls made of painted grey ware and idols of Gods which were discovered in Sthaneshwara.

      The Dwarka section has antiquities from Dwarka and Bet Dwarka, belonging to the 15 century B.C. These were discovered by the famous marine archaeologist Dr. S.R. Rao, when he conducted excavations in Dwarka and Bet Dwarka and underwater excavations in the Arabian Sea, near these two cities. For the skeptics, these archaeological artifacts provide ample evidence about the existence of Dwarka during the era of Krishna.

Third Gallery

      If the first gallery has exquisite carvings and idols, the third gallery is all about beautiful paintings. As I walked the stairs, near the entrance, I saw a striking painting of Radha and Krishna, painted on a huge silk cloth.

      When I entered the gallery, I saw several Rajasthani paintings. These belonged to different schools of paintings like the Mewar school, Bundi school, and Basohli school. These paintings showed scenes from Krishna's life like the Ras Lila, Krishna killing the crow-demon Kakasura, Krishna killing Aghasura, Bhishma lying on a bed of arrows, Radha and Krishna together, etc. At the other end of the room, I saw Ram Nama paintings. These were paintings done by Hindu artists who belonged to Akbar's court. At the centre of this gallery was an octagonal wall, consisting of eight paintings. I personally rate this as the best section of the Krishna Museum. These were scenes from Srimad Bhagavatam, painted in the Oriya style. The eight episodes shown here are: Krishna killing Sishupal, Krishna in Kurukshetra on the occasion of the solar eclipse, Krishna abducting Rukmini, Bhima killing Jarasandha, Krishna with Arjuna and Duryodhana prior to the epic war, Krishna giving life to infant Parikshit, Krishna in the court of Duryodhana performing the role of a peace mediator, and the sages cursing Samba and other Yadavas.

Fourth Gallery

      This gallery was on the second floor. It had nine tableaux that depicted various incidents from Krishna's life such as, Vasudev carrying Krishna across the river Yamuna to Gokul, Krishna stealing butter, Krishna killing Bakasura, Krishna lifting Goverdhan, Krishna dancing on Kaliya after vanquishing him, the cosmic dance of Krishna with Radha and the gopis, Krishna killing Kansa, Krishna in Kurukshetra on the occasion of solar eclipse and Krishna preaching the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.

      The idols in these tableaux are life-size and are dressed in vibrant and colourful clothes. I felt as if I was actually witnessing these incidents.

Fifth Gallery

      This gallery consists of Thanjavur paintings. The unique feature of Thanjavur paintings is the use of gold and semi precious stones. Another distinctive feature of Thanjavur painting is that Krishna is normally shown in His infant form. The paintings depict different incidents from Krishna's life.

Sixth Gallery

      The sixth gallery has different sections, each unique in its own way. Unlike the other galleries which contain artifacts of a particular style, here I saw a blend of Madhubani paintings, Yakshagana style tableaux, shadow puppets from Andhra Pradesh and idols depicting the Manipuri style of dancing

      At the entrance of the gallery there are leather shadow puppets from Andhra Pradesh. Next to them are idols of Krishna and the gopis performing Ras Lila in Manipuri-style attire and dancing. To their right is a tableau that depicts the great Pandava warrior, Abhimanyu being killed in an unfair manner by Kaurava warriors Dronacharya, Karna, Dushasana, Duryodhana, and others. Next to this is a huge tableau that shows Bhishma, lying on a bed of arrows, preaching Rajdharma to Yudhisthira and the Pandavas. At the end of the hall, I saw the famous Madhubani paintings that depicted pastimes from Lord Krishna's life.

      I spent a few hours at the Krishna Museum and found it to be an unique experience since it has mythological depictions of the life and times of Sri Krishna placed as well as scientifically studied archaeological artefacts that have been dated using modern techniques like carbon dating I have never seen anything like this anywhere in the world.

      Kurukshetra Panorama and Science Centre is situated adjacent to the Sri Krishna Museum. The ground floor has exhibits related to science and technology. The first floor has a huge cylindrical hall which depicts the epic war at Kurukshetra. There are 34 paintings adorning the cylindrical walls. The front portion was covered with sand that made it appear as an open field. The various tableaux and paintings depict different scenes from the battle. The battle cries, the sound of conch shells and the chanting of the Bhagavad Gita transport the visitor to the battle of Kurukshetra!

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