At 1045 on 14th April ,2013 we happened to be at the Museum of art and archaeology which we saw individually earlier but intended to see it together as bibliophile.
Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum was a brain child of a revered Jain saint Agamprabhakar Muni Shri Punyavijayji Maharaj, and a philanthropic industrialist Shri Kasturbhai Lalbhai who together collected 45,000 printed books of different languages like Apabhramsa , Hindi , Old Gujarati , Pali , Rajasthani , Sanskrit, etc . and 75,000 manuscripts . Their collection covers a wide variety of topics from Buddhism , Jainism and its darshans , grammar , tantra and poetics to Vedas , agama to the different branches of Indian philosophy. The internationally acclaimed architect Shri Balkrishnabhai Doshi visualized & designed the museum and the same was inaugurated in 1984. Some of the renowned art collectors are honoured by the Museum by naming gallaries after them :
The ‘Muni Punyavijayaji Gallery’ includes the choicest compilation of paintings . Some of them are the Champaner jain pilgrimage painting of 1433 , the Agra Vijnaptipatra by Mughal painter Ustad Salivahana in 1610 . Highly appreciated illustrated manuscripts which we saw here were the Mandu Kalkacharyakatha of 1430 , the Matar Sangrahanisutra of 1583 , the Naldamayantirasa of 1610 in Mughal style , etc . A rare cosmological diagram Ashtdvipa of 1440 was a gem. There were paintings of pre Mughal era in Western Indian painting style and some rare illustrated wooden book covers created for palm leaf manuscripts including that of Vidyadevis circa 12th Century .
‘Madhuri D. Desai Gallery’ holds in its collection the largest head of Buddha circa 3rd - 4th Century in stucco from Gandhara , the standing Visnu of the same period from Mathura , a rare small figure of Ganga from the same place dating back to 4th century , the earliest cult image of Lord Rama (early 6th century) of Gupta period from Devagadh , the Sanmukha Kartikey of the same period from M . P . , and some of the finest Chola sculptures circa 10th -11th Century .
The ‘P.T. Munshaw Gallery’ showcases a rare collection of coins like the finest punch-marked ‘bentbar’. ‘Shri Arvindbhai Collection’ displayes Chola style Nataraja, a Nepali or Tibetan Bronze Mandala and Chinese or Japanese style cupboard in wood . Shri Kasturbhai Lalbhai Collection of Indian Drawings from Calcutta represents drawings for Indian Miniature paintings belonging to various regional schools
The museum not only showcases some of the finest works in history but also puts in efforts towards their proper conservation in the Conservation Laboratory , where cleansing and preservation works are carried out.
A visit to Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum of art & archaeology made us humble as we learnt the great work carried out by our ancestors .
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