HomeTravelsThe lesser known Government Museum in Bengaluru speaks of neoclassical Greco-Roman style.

The lesser known Government Museum in Bengaluru speaks of neoclassical Greco-Roman style.

A search for a Museum on Kasturba Road will always lead to the Vishweshwaraiah Industrial Museum, leaving the impression that the nearby twin-winged Government Museum has faded into obscurity.

The Government Museum, housed in a much older green and red building, is unmistakably a reflection of colonial architecture. Though smaller than its more modern counterpart, the museum houses a small collection of historical artefacts spanning 3,000 years. It is also a short distance from the Karnataka High Court, which is located on the outskirts of Cubbon Park.

The building itself is bound up in names that are indispensable to the history of Bengaluru. According to Discovering Bengaluru by Meera Iyer, convenor of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. The building was originally designed by none other than Colonel Richard Sankey of the East India Company. The wing facing the Vishweshwariah museum dating back to the colonial era. The other wing was built in 1962, along the same lines as the original.

However, the museum was not always located here.  Balfour was also the driving force behind Chennai’s Government Central Museum and the Vandalur Zoo.

Visitors entering the museum’s main gallery are greeted by a pair of menacing “dwarapalaka,” or door guardian sculptures, which are common in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain iconography throughout Southeast Asia. But these aren’t just showpieces; they’re examples of Chalukya art from the 11th century AD. Further inside the gallery is a large collection of archaeological artefacts, including items from the Indus Valley Civilisation and the Arikamedu archaeological site. The collection also includes several Karnataka megalithic sites dating back to the 10th century BC.

Museum Details

The museum also houses inscriptions of historical significance to Karnataka. The Halmidi inscription, which dates back to 450 AD, is one of the oldest examples of written Kannada in the ancient Kadamba script. Another example is the Begur Stone, a “hero stone” commemorating the death of Nagattara, a military officer of the Ganga dynasty who died around a millennium ago. More modern items include a weapon collection that includes some primitive firearms as well as several swords and spears.

A sculpture gallery houses a large collection of Jain, Chola, and Hoysala sculptures, the majority of which date from the 10th to 12th centuries AD, but with several examples dating back over 2,000 years. Some are Greco-Buddhist artefacts from Gandhara, which is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. The garden outside the museum contains a large number of mounted hero stones, sculptures, and inscriptions. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Monday. The admission fee is Rs 20 per person, but filming is not permitted on the museum grounds. Ticket holders may also visit the adjacent Venkatappa Art Gallery, which houses K Venkatappa’s artistic works.

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