A walk through Srinagar's Shri Pratap museum featuring ancient Durga idol once stolen from Valley

This is one of the oldest museum in India 

A walk through Srinagar's Shri Pratap museum featuring ancient Durga idol once stolen from Valley

by IESHAN WANI

The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been ruled by several kings and one of the key places to relive that is Srinagar's Shri Pratap museum. The museum is one of the oldest in India and was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1889.

The Museum has recently been in the news after Hindu Goddess Durga's idol was brought back from Germany by Indian authorities and placed at the museum.

The idol was stolen from the valley and traced in Linden Museum in Germany. It was handed over by visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their talks on October 6, 2015, in New Delhi. 

Iqbal Ahmad, the Assistant Curator at the museum says that "the idol of goddess Durga travelled to Germany and was handed over to the government of India by the German chancellor." 

The idol was stolen from a temple at Pulwama in south Kashmir in the 1990s. It was in 2012 that Indian government traced this idol in Linden Museum, Stuttgart in Germany following they approached the German authorities. 

The museum authorities date the idol back to the 8th century AD when the sculpture art flourished in the valley. After the 8th century, the sculpture art flourished in Kashmir which was mainly influenced by Gandhara and Gupta school of art. The museum was ruined by the 2014 floods but most of the artefacts and objects were saved. 

Not only does the museum contains several sculptures and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses but also displays abundant antique objects from Baltistan, Gilgit, and from different corners of Kashmir.

Munir-Ul-Islam, Director, Archives, Archaeology & Museums says that the museum is among the oldest in the country. "This museum is 4th or 5th in India with the large collection of coins. We have 70 thousand coins, right from the inception of coins in the human history," he says. 

Currently, there are fewer tourists visiting the museum but it continues to remain a reminder of the glorious past of the valley of Kashmir where every ruler made his mark from Mughals to Dogras. 

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