Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad exceeded my expectations with the variety and the nature of its collections. Everyone visiting the city should spend a minimum of half-a-day here. While the other two important museums in India I had visited earlier, the National Museum in Janpath, New Delhi and the Indian Museum, Kolkata (Imperial Museum at Calcutta) were established or benefitted with the collections of Indian Government (and earlier by British India), the Salar Jung museum owes its founding and breathtaking artefacts to a private (aristocratic) family, mainly the Prime Minister of Hyderabad during the Nizam’s rule, Mr Mir Yousuf Ali Khan aka Salar Jung III (1889–1949).
The present-day building was inaugurated on 23rd July 1963, by India’s first Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. Earlier the collections were exhibited in a private museum in the Salar Jung’s Palace Diwan Devdi. Mr Salar Jung III was a man of fine taste, who had travelled around the world and collected furniture, fashion, artefacts, jewels, clocks, Holy Quran, and many more items. Though he was never married, his collections of women’s fashion and jewellery were exquisite.
I had visited the museum during a Sunday (3rd of April 2022) afternoon. Ticket fee for Indian Adults are Rs 20. You may want to buy the Rs 50 ticket for Photography (Camera/mobile), there are many things of interest that you will want to be capturing. I hired the services of an official guide, Mr Baskar Reddy, who was knowledgable, friendly, and spoke reasonable English. He conducted the 90+ minutes tour (charge of Rs 350) without any rush and was interested in helping us discover the beauty of the museum. I will recommend engaging a guide here.
The museum has over thirty-eight galleries on two floors with thousands of artefacts on display. Noteworthy are the Veiled Rebecca marble statue which exhibits the illusion of stone being a fabric clinging to a body, the 19th-century wooden “double sculpture” called Mephistopheles and Margaretta, the Ivory carved horse carriage gifted by the first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad to the museum, the ivory collections, the musical clock that chimes every hour, the european paintings and more. The collections included religious artefacts and symbols from Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism – for example Dasavaratharam and Quranic verses can be seen in seperate ceremonial swords.