In my attempt to look at places that can be explored even in the heat of Delhi, I came across the Terracotta museum. Which fortunately is not located too far from Gurgaon. I with two other explorers went to Anandgram, a small campus that hosts three unique museums. A terracotta museum, Museum of everyday art and a textile museum. The campus itself is a welcome sight, minutes away from the maddening metropolis. But absolutely serene, with an air that no one can disturb the peace. Anyone who stands in that place can but be a part of that peace and serenity.
Anandgram – Places to visit in Delhi
As you enter the museum gate, you are greeted by a staff member who talks to you courteously and then directs you towards the Terracotta museum. This museum is spread across a combination of partially covered rooms and open spaces. Interestingly interspersed with trees and structures holding life-size artifacts. There are open windows with artifacts, primarily human figurines places in them against the outer background of nature’s green. And it makes a picture perfect setting. The whole museum is done in the mud.
Museum of Terracotta
The first entrance introduces you to the soil/mud/clay from various states of India where Terracotta is prevalent. You can distinctly see the difference in color and texture of the soil. Then a room explains the various regions where terracotta flourished, history of terracotta and the states of India where it is still practiced. And the peculiarities of the art from each state. It traces its history back to the Indus valley civilization. How it has propagated through various dynasties like Mauryas and others over the ages. To still survive in this age of synthetics. A map depicts the region that had developed terracotta art and given its own flavor to it. Major current day regions are Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Manipur and Delhi and around.
There are animal figures, human figures, deities and various everyday use articles like pitchers and stands displayed in terracotta. While most of the artifacts are in various shades of red, at times with specks of black. There is a room with white artifacts with paintings in bright colored highlighting both the background and the foreground. Creating a colorful sight. There are terracotta art pieces embedded within a painted wall. A room or space is dedicated to artwork from each of the states. An information board explains the nuances of the art form from the region. I particularly liked the walls in the open made from terracotta tiles from Rajasthan.
Museum of Everyday Art
The way out from the Terracotta part of the Anandgram campus leads you to the Museum of everyday art. I was thinking what it would be that this place would showcase. And this beautifully designed hall has articles from everyday use, but art being an integral part of each piece. There are furniture pieces, kitchen items, hookahs, home temples, deities, scales, kids’ items. They have actually been arranged in the chronological order of as a human life uses these items. Beginning with the things used by kids, followed by student items, householder’s items, Shringar or beauty related items. And finally, the articles used in a devotional pursuit.
You may have seen a lot of these articles in your grandmother’s house or in your native village sometimes. But what this place brings out is the immense amount of artwork hidden in these modest pieces of everyday use. It will also make you think, why we have moved away from such a beautiful living to an absolute mechanical living. Where everything we use is more or less a mass commodity. With no distinction attached to the owner.
Next is the textile museum, which displays various textiles of India. Textiles gamut like silks, weaves, embroideries, stitches, colors, and prints. The Saris from various places have been artistically displayed in glass panels. You would have seen most of these things, if nowhere else, at least in wedding functions you would have attended. The museum brings all of them together in front of your eyes. You can see the minute differences in them. And appreciate the tapestry of color and style. There can be more styles that can be added to this museum. That’s what I think and I am not an expert in textiles. When you are there, do take notice of the massive door of this museum.
Between the museums at Anandgram, there is a small pond like stair walled structure, with benches scattered here and there for you to sit and feel the place. They have a small residential complex for artists and intellectuals to live here for a maximum period of 3 months. And pursue their creative interests. There are regular ceramics and pottery classes that are conducted which are open to anyone for a basic course. This museum set has been in existence for almost 25 years now. Many do not seem to know about it. Entry to the museum is free. It is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
I would definitely recommend Anandgram for a visit to all Dilliwallas and visitors.
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