Museums are not the first thing that come to your mind when you think about Jammu and Kashmir. After all, visiting its lakes, enjoying a shikara ride on the Dal Lake, exploring the meadows and valleys, and relishing its mouthwatering dishes are some of the tourists favourite activities. Even though those are strong reasons in themselves to plan a visit, you should also check out the museums in this region. Most of the palaces were converted into museums, and a visit to them introduces you to its heritage, culture and other lifestyle related aspects. A visit to the museums during your sightseeing tour in Jammu and Kashmir promises to be an enlightening and wonderful experience.
Amar Palace Museum looks every bit the palatial building it was meant to be. Built by King Amar Singh of the Dogra dynasty, it is a magnificent example of French-chateau style of architecture. There are several exhibits that draw your attention, including the golden throne weighing 120 kg, 25,000 antique books, paintings by MF Hussain and Pahadi style paintings depicting major events from the Mahabharata. Its location also contributes to its overall beauty, as it is situated atop a hill and overlooks River Tawi.
Hall of Fame, located in the city of Leh, presents a picture of serenity. That effect is enhanced several times over by the presence of a Lord Buddha in front of the structure. This museum was built by the Indian Army to commemorate the Indian soldiers who attained martyrdom in the India-Pakistan wars. Situated on the Leh-Kargil road, it is not difficult to locate it. Inside, the various exhibits include weapons used during the Kargil war. In one section, there are exhibits dealing with apparels used by Indian army stationed in Siachen glacier. The ground floor of the museum deals with the history and culture of Ladakh. The Stok Museum in Leh will surprise you not just with its intriguing collection, but by the amazing height at which it is located. Situated at an incredible height of almost 11,500 ft, it houses an amazing collection of precious artefacts and relics that shed light on Ladakh’s old monarchy. Some of the items which can be found in this museum include coins, royal seals, jewellery and royal costumes.
There is also a fascinating display of thangkas inside the museum, some of which go back at least 400 years. In a separate room, visitors are treated to an amazing display of weapons, including bows, arrows, shields, guns and quivers. Some of the items that turn heads the most include the Queen’s ancient yub-jhur or perak, coral, gold nuggets and a head piece covered with 401 lumps of uncut turquoise.
Art lovers will love this. The Dogra Art Museum, located in a Pink Hall in Mubarak Mandi, is home to over 800 rare paintings which are of immense historic significance. Most important are the galleries dedicated to Kangra and Jammu schools of art, basholi, a gold painted bow and arrow belonging to Mughal emperor Shah Jehan, and handwritten Persian manuscripts from Sikandernama and Shahnama.