Saturday, 18 December 2010

Mysore museums part 1: Wellington House

Wellington House (Named for Sir Arthur Wellesly, 1st Duke of Wellington) on Irwin Road (Named for Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax) is not in some British town. It's at the very heart of Mysore(Named after Mahishasura, scary demon). It now houses the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manava Sangrahalaya (Named after Indira Priyadarshini, scary demon according to some). This was the first museum on my Mysore museums series.

One of the problems with this museum is that it there is no one defining theme that can be seen in the exhibits there except probably that none of them are natural artifacts. There is some folk art from all parts of India. Paphal (not named after anyone, god depicted in snake form from Manipur) depictions from Manipur, Bastar iron artifacts are particularly noteworthy. There are some woodwork samples from Almora and pretty Gond paintings. There was also a photo exhibition on which had photos which were all individually pretty but of the sort you would rather receive in a email forward embellished with senti messages than go to a museum to see.

There are some modern art works and some life size portraits of Shree Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar (I think I am yet to go to a museum in Mysore without one of these). These are neglected and not properly named. I even saw a couple of exhibits on their side on the floor. This is something I found really unacceptable.

To sum up this is a really good museum opportunity wasted. There is no proper explanation of what a lot of the exhibits are and there is no proper information system. The house itself is something else though. It's first resident Arthur Wellesly helped General Harris whoop Tippu Sultan in the fourth anglo-mysore war and then at age 30 became the governor of Mysore. Mysore, at this time I must remind you was only a few years away past its peak and a very fine place to be governor of. Now the Duke of Wellington, when he later became Prime Minister, chose not to live at No. 10 Downing street because he found it too small and went to his own house. So you can imagine how good Wellington house in Mysore must be if it was to be to Wellesly's liking. I like to imagine that it was at this house he thought up some of the stunning plans that helped him defeat Napoleon at Waterloo.

Sad joke for the day: Apparently Wellesly did not enjoy his stay in Mysore all that much. This is because he suffered from a prolonged bout of severe diarrhea. Several years before he met Napoleon at Waterloo, he had some water related loo problems himself. hyuk hyuk.

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