Objectives of the Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum at Khajuraho aims to encourage public participation in the museum activities by interacting with professionals and public thereby generating greater awareness regarding the remains of the past. They are also keen to proceed with further archaeological work in the museum in an ethical and scientific manner. They aim at proper management of the museum. Also, new ideas for museum development and archaeological research are encouraged by the museum authorities.
History of the Archaeological Museum
History highlights Khajuraho as a region, which was conquered by various dynasties, namely, the Kushanas, the Nagas, the Vakatakas, the Imperial Guptas and the Pratiharas. This region was also a part of the Vatsa kingdom during the Janapada period. It then came within the Mauryan boundaries. Also known as the ancient Jejakbhukti, Khajuraho was a religious capital town of the Chandellas, a powerful medieval dynasty. It was a temple town as it preserved groups of temples, from 9th to 12th century A.D.
The origin of the Chandellas traces back to the Lunar dynasty. In 954 AD, the Khajuraho stone inscription of Dhanga named the Chandella family as the Candratreya. This is believed to be the earliest inscription of the dynasty. As per the travel account of the foreign travelers, Khajuraho was graced by a number of stone temples. These temples were in turn characterized by abundance of sculptures which beautified their exterior facades and also the inner shrines. Though the sculptures belonged to the early medieval era, the art is based on the classical traditions.
In 1838, T.S. Burt, a British engineer, rediscovered Khajuraho. A detailed first hand study on Khajuraho from 1852 to 1885, was conducted by the then Director General, Alexander Cunningham. This study was further supported by numerous other research works conducted by reputed scholars. They related the Khajuraho nomenclature with golden khajur trees or scorpion (Khajur) on celestial nymphs thigh as Khajura Vahaka.
In 1910, Mr. W.A. Jardine, the then local officer of the British government in Bundelkhand, found loose sculptures of the ruined temples of Khajuraho. They were collected and preserved in an enclosure built adjoining to the Matangeshwar Temple of western group of temples. The open air collection continued to be known as Jardine Museum, until the Archaeological Survey of India took it over in 1952 and changed its name to Archaeological Museum.
Sculptures in the Archaeological Museum
The archaeological museum at Khajuraho preserves near about 3424 registered antiquities. These sculptures belong to different sects, namely, the Jaina, the Saiva, the Vaisnava and the Sakta.
Cult images, family and minor deities, divine nymphs, secular sculptures and animal (vyala and sardula) sculptures are the various classifications of the sculptures, safeguarded in the museum. It is evident from the sculptures that they are carved in contemporary style. This style of Indian art depicted in the sculptures, dates back to 10th century A.D. The divine nymphs called the sura-sundaris and the female revels are depicted admiring the charms of human body from the most fascinating angles. The sura-sundaris are the finest and the most numerous sculptures in Khajuraho. These sculptures are shaped in a way to convey human moods and fancies. They are structured in provocative gestures and flexions. The female sculptures wear choicest gems and garments and their youthfulness, charm and activities are completely evident, giving them the look of conventional nayikas. Some secular sculptures also excel in portraying a detailed depiction of human emotions. They are characterized by erotic themes. The sculptural art of central India, more specifically, the Chandella art, is most evident in the stone art preserved in the museum. The secular objects like celestial nymphs, scenes depicting social life and the erotic and amorous couples attract the attention of the visitors.
Galleries in the Archaeological Museum
The 5 galleries in the Archaeological Museum are the Jaina gallery, the Vaishnava gallery and the Saiva gallery. There is also a Miscellaneous gallery and a hall which is used to display the sculptures.
The Jaina gallery has sculptures of Jaina goddess Manovega, Jaina Matrika and Jaina Tirthankaras, namely, Adinath and Mahavira, to name a few.
The occupants of the Vaishnava gallery are sculptures and sculpture fragments. It has sculptures of Vaikuntha Vishnu, Brahma and Brahmani and Vamana. There are sculpture fragments of Vaikunth, Gaja - Lakshmi and head of a female deity in the gallery.
The Saiva gallery includes the sculptures of four armed Siva, Nataraj and Brahmani. The sculpture panels here are Sapta-matrikas panel and Navagrahas panel.
There is also a Miscellanious gallery which comprises of sculptures and sculpture panels. It has sculptures of Leogriff (Vyala), Mithuna Couple and four armed Goumukha.
The main hall comprises of sculptures and a doorway. Some of the sculptures in this gallery are that of Vishnu, Agni and Leogriff.
More specifically, this museum is located 54 kilometres south of Mahoba, 45 kilometres east of Chhatarpur district and 105 kilometres west of Satna district. This museum is well connected by metalled roads from nearest railheads from Mahoba, Chhatarpur and Satna. Bicycles and autos are a convenient mode of transportation to this Museum.
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