It has joined the select band of world museums to offer virtual tour of some galleries
Everyone waits with bated breath. As the Lilliputian emerges from the tiny cavity and strikes the gong, a cheer goes up. There is not one in the crowd who doesn't express surprise at the breathtaking spectacle.
Yes, like the musical clock, every artefact in the Salar Jung Museum (SJM) is worth drawing sighs of ecstasy. But few know or care to find out about the visionary who made it happen. Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, better known as Salar Jung III, did not merely collect the objects as he came upon them. He hunted for them and even employed the services of experts to distinguish the original from the replica. And in this noble pursuit he remained a bachelor all his life. He even gave up the Prime Ministership after serving a brief spell of two years. His fascinating collection numbers 46,000 object d'art, 58,000 books and 8,300 manuscripts.
As Hyderabad celebrated the 123rd birth anniversary of Salar Jung III on Thursday, one failed to comprehend the true worth of the artistic wealth gathered by him under one roof. A descendent of the illustrious family of Shaik Owais Qarni of Madina, Salar Jung III was a world citizen like his global collection.
The objects assiduously gathered by him cover diverse subjects, themes, mediums and popular world regions. Salar Jung III was brought up under the care of Nizam VI and VII. After relinquishing Prime Ministership, he visited Europe and Middle Eastern countries and started collecting art objects on a huge scale. The next 35 years he spent in this passion and passed away at the age of 60 on March 2, 1949.
The SJM has grown out of the rich and variegated collection by the Salar Jung family. Of course, the major portion is acquired by Salar Jung III. After it was shifted from Diwan Deodi, the residential palace of Salar Jung III, to the present premises in 1968, the SJM has grown by leaps and bounds.
In its 61 years of existence, the SJM has gained an online presence. It has joined the select band of world museums to offer virtual tour of some galleries. Right now one can only view the veiled Rebecca from the comfort of one's home.
“Shortly we will be introducing audio guide for the benefit of visitors,” says A. Nagender Reddy, director, SJM.
Visitors will be provided MP3 player on payment of Rs. 50 with which they can approach any object and listen to its description just by pressing a button. The museum continues to enthral so much so that a visit to Hyderabad is considered incomplete if one has not seen it.