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Home > Discover Hyderabad > Sight Seeing > The Egyptian mummy - 2500 BC
[Hyderabad Museums]  

When you think of mummies, it evokes memories about Egyptian pyramids, where large numbers of dead bodies are preserved in a bandaged form. Many people visit Egypt to have a glimpse of the mummies which are embalmed after a laborious process of mummification. Thousands of years old mummies, chemically treated and wrapped in linen cloth showcase the history that lies behind it.

One such type of unique mummy is present in the AP State Museum located in Public Gardens. The Egyptian mummy preserved in the museum is that of a young pregnant girl aged between 16 and 18 years, daughter of the VI Pharaoh of Egypt. "This mummy is dated back to 2500 BC and is one of the six mummies preserved in Indian museums," said MA Gaffoor, In-charge of the AP State Museum. The mummy was bought by Nazeer Nawaz Jung, the son-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the VI Nizam of Hyderabad in 1920s for a price of 1000 pounds. He gifted it to Mir Osman Ali Khan, the VII Nizam of Hyderabad, who in turn donated it to Hyderabad museum when it was opened in 1930.

Weapons used in the war on displayBut the mummy, which generates lot of interest among the visitors, is in a dilapidated condition. The chin portion and also the limbs of the mummy are partially damaged and the recent x-ray studies have indicated about the missing of a tooth. The bandage which covers the body has also become very loose and is in a decaying condition.

Apart from the mummy, AP State Museum also has a rich collection of Stone Age implements, bronze statues, paintings, stone sculptures, arms and weapons, manuscripts, miniature paintings, and contemporary art collections. They are housed in galleries like Arms and Weapons gallery, Bronze gallery, European gallery, Ajanta paintings gallery, Coins gallery, Inscriptions gallery, Textile gallery, Brahmanical and Jain gallery and Buddhist gallery.

Guns in the Arms & Weapons galleryA good number of architectural and railing members of Amaravati stupa including the railings, pillars, cross bars, lotus medallions, are on display at the Buddhist gallery. A few panels depicted with stupa, dharmachakra, and a 1st century BC bodhi tree brought from Chandavaram, bodhisatva figures from Tirumalgiri and Buddha statues from Amaravati are also on display in the gallery. There is also a model of the Amaravati stupa, erected to facilitate the students of architecture to understand Buddhist art and architecture.

Rare items on displayThe museum is a treasure house for its rich collection of South Indian bronzes belonging to Buddhist, Jaina and Hindu religions and a few decorative items like lamps and lamp stands. The earliest bronze dated back to 1st century BC is a figurine of mother and child recovered from a Buddhist site at Dhulikatta in Karimnagar district is one of the special items of this bronze gallery.

The other gallery named as Numismatics gallery possesses a variety of coins minted on different metals like lead, copper, silver, and gold representing dynasties like Shatavahana, Vishnukundin, Kakatiya, Vijayanagara, Mughal, Delhi Sultanate etc. An electroplated replica of a 200 tola gold mohr of Shahjahan, a rare specimen is the special attraction of this gallery. The museum is considered as the second, next to British Museum, London for its largest collection of coins.

Replica of thousand pillars temple of WarangalAnother interesting gallery in the museum is the Arms and Weapons gallery which consists of artifacts belonging to iron age, medieval and late periods representing the evolution and usage of weapons in different fields. The gallery has war weapons such as battle-axes, swords, daggers, jambias, curved swords, shields, helmets, spears, and bows and arrows belonging to Qutub Shahi, Nizam and Mughal dynasties. A rare specimen of a gun used by Tippu Sultan is the special attraction of this gallery. The gun has an inscription in golden letters and a symbol of tiger. The shield bearing the name of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and the sword of the Nizam of Hyderabad studded with precious stones are rare and exhibit fine workmanship.

The statue of Nataraja in Bronze galleryThe AP State Museum has many specialities to its credit. It is the only one of its kind in the country to possess the replicas of the world famous Ajanta and Ellora paintings done by two great artists of Hyderabad Syed Ahmed and Mohammed Jalaluddin with the help of lady Harringham during the years 1909-1911. Staying on for years in the dim lit caves, the two artists copied the paintings frame by frame. Even the damaged portions on the original wall paintings were copied. The gallery showcases the dexterity of the two great artists of modern era. Other than Ajanta paintings gallery, the museum also has European paintings, contemporary art pavilion which has miniature paintings of Deccani, Mughal and Rajasthani schools and art works of modern artists like Abdul Rahman Chugthai, Kapu Rajayya, PT Reddy, Kondapalli Seshagiri Rao, S Janardhan, Kamala Mittal and P Gouri Shankar.

Numismatics galleryHundreds of people visit this museum everyday. The building reflects Indo-Islamic architecture with subtle domes, high arches, stylish windows, and projected eves. "The building was originally constructed in 1920s to house a rich collection of dolls of the Nizam's daughter. Mir Osman Ali Khan, the VII Nizam first conceived the idea of a new museum to be developed exclusively to display art objects. He converted this building into a museum complex and named it Osmania Numaish Ghar in 1930. Later the building was renamed as AP State Museum when Hyderabad became part of India," said Gaffoor throwing some light on the history of the museum.

The museum is a must visit place for the lovers of history. The rich collection and the mummy makes it as one of the interesting tourist spots in the country.

Museum Timings: 10:30 AM to 5: 00 PM. Open on all days except Friday and other national holidays.

Ticket Charges: 50 paisa. (10 rupees extra for taking photographs)

Address: AP State Museum, Public Gardens, Hyderabad.

-MAR Fareed
Srinivas Setty
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