Renowned as Gujarat’s oldest museum, the Kutch Museum in Bhuj, houses one of the largest existing collections of Kshatrapa inscriptions dating back to the 1st century AD along with some samples of the extinct Kutchi script. The museum was founded by Maharao Khengarji in the year 1877 and has some fascinating collection of coins including the local currency of Kutch — kori.
In addition to a section that is exclusively dedicated to tribal cultures with various specimens of ancient artefacts, folk arts and crafts and some information on the tribal people. Other than these, the museum also has on display specimens of embroidered clothes, paintings, arms and ammunitions, musical instruments, sculptures and other precious metal work.
Situated on the banks of beautiful Hamirsar Lake exactly opposite the striking Nazar Bagh Garden, the Kutch Museum has been constructed in a Gothic architectural style prominent in Europe during that time and features ribbed vaults along with pointed arches that add to the visual appeal of the museum.
Consisting of two floors, the Kutch Museum boasts of a picture gallery, an anthropological section, an archaeological section, a separate section on textiles, weapons, musical instruments, and a shipping section as well.
While the section on textiles displays various textiles, fabrics and embroidered clothes of the tribes of Bhuj, the section on music will leave you spellbound with its collection of musical instruments like veena, dilruba, along with folk musical instruments like kani, nagfani and morchang among others.
Other sections like a section on shipping displays the various models that were made in Mandvi in addition to sexton and other equipments used by sailors along with the permission documents, which were required to dock at any port of the world. There is even a map depicting the route of the earlier sailors.
However the main attraction of the museum is Airavat – a seven trunked snow white elephant belonging to Lord Indira. Painted in the local kamagiri style with flowers and creepers, the elephant is an 18th century wooden masterpiece from Mandvi. In addition, a model of wild ass and flamingo are other attractions of the museum. The museum also has crocodiles caught from Hamirsar Tank on display among the first ever python caught in Kutch.
Besides these major attractions, the other artefacts on display at the museum are items like a dish, which is a round silver tray that demonstrates the skill of the craftsmen as well as the wealth of the people of Kutch, early 20th century ornamented doors that speak about the superb workmanship of craftsmen from Narayan Sarovar among other things. Along with a few specimens of knives and nut crackers that are very popular in Kutch.
Initially known as Fergusson Museum after the name of the then governor of Bombay Sir James Fergusson, the Kutch Museum pre-independence was not open to common public and it was only after independence, the doors of the museum were thrown open to the public.
Today Kutch Museum is one of the must-visit places in the city and invites people not only from all over the country but also from all over the world to have a glimpse of all the masterpieces that the museum has on its display.