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Resplendent Museum A 104-year-old museum famous for its prized collections

Updated: September 28, 2013 5:35 pm


If you are an art lover, this is something you ought not to miss to visit the Kanika Museum. The Kanika Museum in Rajkanika of Kendrapara district of Odisha is indeed an asset to the state that prides to have a rich legacy of culture and tradition. More than 3000 beautiful artefacts in 12 odd different spacious sections invite the art lovers. The museum is replete with creations in wood, metal, stone, ivory, clay antics etc.

The museum was set up in the 104-year-old two-storey Kanika palace in 1960s by the royal family members to display hundreds of antiquities, wildlife trophies, mirrors, paintings, rare photographs, arms and other antique items. The Kanika palace used to be the imperial palace of the royal family members. The palace covers an area of some 300 acres. Meanwhile, all the imperial treasures from palace were displayed for public in the museum. The museum looked resplendent once more after repair and redecoration recently by the present scion Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo.

The well-designed palace appears magnificent, solemn and harmonious, representing the long cultural tradition of Rajkanika and its outstanding architectural accomplishments century ago. It is a truly superb masterpiece in every sense. The Kanika Museum has the collection of ancient artworks, some of which are invaluable national treasures. Artworks in the museum’s collection include paintings, pottery, bronze wares, inscribed wares, toys, clocks and court documents. “The 99-centimetre long skull of a salt-water crocodile displayed in the museum is the world’s largest skull of the crocodile”, said Dr Sudhakar Kar, a noted herpetologist and a crocodile researcher of wildlife and forest department of the state .

“The giant crocodile was shot dead in 1926 by Rajendra Narayan Bhanjadeo, my great-grand-father on the Dhamra River. An elephant’s skull and foot also added the beauty to the museum. A stuffed tiger also attracts visitors to the museum”, said Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo.

It also houses a collection of many valuable artworks, most of which were in the possession of the royal families. These art treasures include paintings, pottery, bronze wares, gold and silver wares, embroidery, sculptures, jade wares, lacquer wares and lacquer enamel wares. In addition, there are also court articles, including jewels, accessories, clocks, medicines, furniture and furnishings. It is a unique, superb building complex, integrating the outstanding achievements of ancient architecture. There is also tapestry and embroidery, and many priceless documents and books.

The museum also displays a variety of exhibits such as portraits of the kings, palanquins, dresses, weapons, royal umbrellas, canopy, dolis, swords, prized cups and a century-old billiard table. The life-size portraits of the kings are displayed in a long hall originally served as coronation hall.

The first room of the museum contains brocade garments of the royal family. Besides weapons, a few cabinets contain samples of hookah bases, glassware, bowls, rose water sprinklers, and cups. The current scion of the royal family, Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo hasn’t merely been content with restoring the palace to its former glory. Many projects are underway to develop it into a famous museum.

Once such project is the exhibition of priceless royal family photographs. The interior of the museum is also adorned with priceless artwork, which documents royal history. A collection of personal portraits of the former rajas is on display as well, said Shivendra .

The museum is replete with creations in wood, metal, stone, ivory and clay. Kanika Rajas won many trophies in dog shows in many parts of the country and many trophies are also displayed in the museum. Plan a trip to the museum with enough of spare time because you feel like spending a whole day here in the company of these exquisites. It is here that you can immerse yourself in the history of Rajkanika, and really get a feel for its culture and how royalty lived.

By Ashis Senapati from Rajkanika

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