From archaeological history to iconic Kangra miniature paintings, the Museum of Kangra Art in Dharamshala is one of the best examples of art and cultural heritage being preserved.
Established on 17 January 1990, it is not only conserving a splendid heritage but also spreading awareness among the people about their rich cultural past. It presents original source material and evidence of human creativeness and enterprise and thus serves as a major tool of awareness.
Located at Kotwali Bazar in Dharamshala, around 240 km from the state capital, Shimla, the museum is housed in a newly built building. The Museum of Kangra Art is a treasure house of tangible cultural heritage and there are various galleries where objects are displayed. They include archaeological gallery, Kangra miniature painting gallery, jewellery gallery, textile gallery, ancient coins gallery, manuscript gallery, wooden art gallery and gallery on miscellaneous art objects. The museum covers all aspects of the rich art of the region.
It holds artifacts from a wide timeline, including paintings from the 17th century and even works of modern artists. It is a treasure trove of Kangra valley arts and crafts. There is also a section that displays anthropological items as also one that showcases the traditional dresses of the area.
“It’s a must visit place for an art lover as it depicts the rich past of Kangra and showcases the valuable culture,” Arpan Sharma, a tourist, said.
There are photographs of the 1905 earthquake which struck Kangra and caused massive damage.
Even the royalty of the region is on display including clothing and the weapons used in wars. Also, many artefacts which pertain to tribal culture are displayed in the form of ethnic jewellery belonging to various communities, like the Gaddis of Brahmaur and Pangwals of Pangi area of Chamba district.
It showcases and preserves wooden carvings and a wide selection of wooden household wares.
‘The archaeological gallery has a unique collection of objects discovered from the excavated archaeological sites, particularly Kangra region. The preservation and maintenance is done regularly. Preservation of antiquities and other cultural heritage is done through exploration and excavation,” Ripu Daman, preservation assistant at the museum, said.
Kangra miniature paintings are famous worldwide and have put Kangra on the art map of the world. This gallery forms a very interesting section of the museum and revolves around historical, religious and traditional background of royalty and the court of the former ruler of Kangra, Raja Sansar Chand who belonged to Katoch Dynasty.
“The colours used in Kangra miniature painting style are extracted from dried flowers and herbs and this art form has a strong thematic base,” curator of the museum Ritu Malkotia told The Statesman.
She said the gallery of Kangra miniature paintings is loved as it represents the cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh pictorially.
Efforts are being made to revive the dying art form of Kangra (Pahari) painting by imparting training through Guru Shishya tradition.
“Kangra Art Museum displays some fine miniature paintings from the Kangra and Chamba Rumal embroideries which provides a spectacular glimpse of traditional art and culture. All in all eyeopening few hours spent in Dharamsala,” said Panki Rai, a visitor at the museum.