Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Varendra Research Museum

Varendra Research Museum

Varendra Museum was the first museum to be established in erstwhile East Bengal in 1910. Just a short distance away from the Rajshahi University in Rajshahi, in Bangladesh, is the Varendra
Research Museum. Over the years, the museum has not only gained popularity as a research centre, but as an attraction in Bangladesh. The Varendra Research Museum became a part of the Rajshahi University in 1960 and is known to be the oldest museum in the subcontinent.

The museum started out as the collection for Varendra Anushandhan Samiti or Varendra Investigation Society and got its current name in 1919. The Rajahs of Rajshahi and Natore, notably Prince Sharat Kumar Ray, donated their personal collections to Varendra Museum. Varendra refers to an ancient janapada roughly corresponding to modern northern Bangladesh.

Dhov kol (one time it use to store water since the time of Moharane Hemonto Kumare)

In side the Museum

This fact and that it is home to the largest collection of archaeological and historical artifacts and documents in regard to Bangladesh, makes this an attraction worth visiting.
The Varendra Research Museum collection consists of stone and metal sculptures, epigraphs, coins, pottery and plaques in terracotta, weapons, Arabic and Persian documents, paintings, books and periodicals, Sanskrit and Bangla manuscripts.


Gallery-1 offers relics of the Indus Valley-Civilisation (2500 BC), finds from the excavations at Paharpur in Bangladesh (8th-12th century AD), Persian farmans and Bangla documents, Sanskrit inscriptions in old Bangla scripts, glazed tiles, metal ware in Islamic style, hand written copies of the Holy Quran, Bangla and Sanskrit manuscripts, Mughal paintings and miscellaneous sculptures in stone and bronze, antiquities from Nalanda, Bihar and other parts of India.

In Gallery-2, there are Buddhist and Hindu stone sculptures and modern wood sculptures. Gallery-3 displays Hindu sculptures: images of Surya, Shiva, Ganesha and Visnu, including his incarnatory forms. In Gallery-4 are cult icons of the Shaktas of Durga-Gauri-Uma-Parvati, the Matrikas and Chamunda. Gallery-5 offers images of Buddha, Bodhisattavas, Taras, Jaina Tirthankaras and minor gods and goddesses of Hinduism. In Gallery-6 there are Arabic. Persian, Sanskrit and old Bangla stone inscriptions, sculptured stones of the Muslim period, miharab, decorated doorjambs and lintels and a pair of Sher Shah's Bronze cannons


The upper row of the verandah is furnished with terracotta moulded plaques from Paharpur. In the bottom row are Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. The courtyard offers a fascinating view of sculptured stones from Hindu and Muslim buildings, stone pillars, Shiva Lingams and Yonipattas.

Stone sculptures

The museum library built up a collection of books and periodicals, right from the beginning, essential for research and higher studies in ancient and medieval history and art and archaeology of Bengal. The number of Sanskrit manuscripts traced so far is 2,530. An idea of their subject matter can be formed from the descriptive catalogue of 840 manuscripts prepared and already published (1979), 89 Puranas, 106 Smrti, 98 Grammar, 24 Lexicons, 71 Poetry, 10 Drama, 5 Rhetoric, 62 Vasisnava literature, 75 Vedanta (Nyaya), 37 Ayurveda. 37 Astrology, 2 History, 3 Buddhist literature, 12 Miscellaneous. The museum can, at present with 10,147 volumes, reasonably feel proud of its library.

As a research facility, the Varendra Research Museum is vital for studies in history, archaeology and in anthropology. Working together with students and the university has enabled the museum to make significant discoveries and explore new territories. Their dedication and the tireless work being done by them is seen throughout the halls of the galleries. It allows locals and visitors to journey back in history and time to reflect on the progress that has been made since ancient times.

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