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Archaeological Museum, Delhi, New Delhi

Archaeological Museum, Delhi Overview

The Red Fort Archaeological Museum which has been housing the items such as paintings, artifacts, calligraphy, fabrics, and other objects that belong to the Royal era or the Mughal era is currently situated in the Mumtaz Mahal of the Red Fort in Delhi. However indigenously known as the Palace Museum this museum finds its origin in the year 1911 and was then located in the Naubhat Khana. Now, being under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India was years later shifted to the Mumtaz Mahal which was earlier used as British’s mess.

Unfortunately during the Nadir Shah's invasion of India in 1747 and Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British which failed badly, a large amount of the Mughal belongings and jewels of the Red Fort were thieved and ultimately sold to private collectors or the British Museum, British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Some of the significant artifacts such as the Koh-i-Noor diamond, the jade wine cup of Shah Jahan and the crown of Bahadur Shah II are all put to display in the museums of London. Due to these unfortunate events, the Museum is able to exhibit a very small amount of Mughal property and heritage.

The way in which a book is divided into chapters similarly the gallery has been thematically exhibited in six galleries catering to the Mughal period. The first few showcases are at the disposal of the Emperor Akbar and his successors and comprises of articles of their era. The articles belong to the category of miniature paintings, manuscripts, stone inscriptions, farman (royal orders) etc. There is also a showcase which displays the astrolabes which used to effectuate astronomical calculations. Porcelain, celadon and jade objects, textiles, and glazed tiles are some of the constituents of the second gallery, which are also being showcased for the people who have interests in old artifacts. The hilts of swords and daggers are the objects which stand out from the other jade objects.

There is a gallery called The Bahadur Shah Zafar gallery which has been allocated for displaying the belongingness of the Emperor and his queen which are dresses, powder horns, rose water sprinkler, toilet box, etc. One will also catch hold of two examples of calligraphy ghazals of Bahadur Shah Zafar II along with his pen, ink pot, and scissors. The museum also houses the photographs of Bahadur Shah illuminating his days at prison and also an ivory miniature painting which is supposed to be of Zinat Mahal.

In the museum what else is exposed to view are the arms used in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 by the then Nawab of Pataudi, and also those used by Bahadur Shah and also the field glass used during the capture of Delhi by Brigadier-General John Nicholson. Last but not least to mention are the Portraits of the last Mughal rulers and contemporary personalities like court poet Mirza Ghalib, Delhi scenes depicted through maps and lithographs and also Bahadur Shah's letter to Queen Victoria .

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