Bihar Museum in Patna is a new museum located bang in the middle of the town. What makes this museum interesting is its design. It showcases the history and heritage of Bihar in a manner that is bound to engage visitors, especially young ones.
Like most museums, it also demands lot of attention and time. Thankfully, photography is allowed, so you can click yourself with the lovely artefacts.
So, here are a few artefacts that you must see at Bihar Museum in Patna.
Didarganj Yakshi – Star of Bihar Museum
This fine sculpture of a Yakshi holding a Chanvar or whisk in her hand is the most popular sculpture of Bihar. Many years ago, it used to be a central piece at Patna Museum. Now, it holds the same position at Bihar Museum.
It is on display at the designed hall on the first floor. You can walk around it and view it from all angles. The shine on the stone leaves one in awe as do the body proportions.
I always wonder, if the whisk holder is so beautiful, how beautiful would the one she is whisking would be. Well, we can only imagine. She is carved in soft Chunar sandstone, way back during the time of the Mauryas.
Buddha Images at Bihar Museum
Bihar is the land of Buddha. He spent almost all his life around this region, attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. No wonder than you have a lot of his statues, images found here from different time periods.
There are many stone as well as metal images to admire. My favorite is the large one in Bhumi Sparsh Mudra or the earth touching gesture representing the moment of enlightenment. The backdrop recreates the forest around this statue, porting you to that space and time.
Standing Buddha Murtis in metal are another attraction you should not miss.
Read More – Understanding Narratives in Buddhist Art
Paper Mache Matrika
Paper Mache is one of many art forms of Bihar. Here, you see a larger than life sculpture of a folk deity called Matrika in paper mache.
It has two women back to back holding a child. I was told you can see such images in the villages of Bihar. I did not see any in the ones I visited. Let’s hope it is not a vanishing custom.
Besides this there are three dimensional wall paintings done using paper mache.
Kohbar Paintings of Madhubani
For understanding Mithila Paintings, read our detailed post on Madhubani Paintings. We spoke about Kohbar that is a ritual painting drawn during weddings.
At the Bihar Museum, you can see some grand examples of these paintings both in color and red & white colors. This is the best place to understand the nuances of Kohbar that contains so many auspiciousness, prosperity and fertility symbols.
Be the Mauryan Royal
Patna or Pataliputra we know was the capital of mighty Mauryan empire. Ruins of its famous Sabhagriha or hall have been found in Kumrahar which now in Patna. Bihar Museum recreates that to an extent possible.
It has a Mauryan throne on which you can sit and get clicked. It is a memory that you can take along.
Not many of us can read the ancient scripts like Brahmi. They hold the mysteries of the past in their curious letters. The moment you see them, it indicates an inscription or a message our ancestors left us. In a way, they are time travel capsules.
A huge wall lets you admire this geometrical script. I love my picture of standing next to it.
Re-creation of Nalanda
Ancient Nalanda University is now ruins in exposed red brick. When it was excavated, a lot of Murtis were found in the niches of its walls. Most of these are now on display at the ASI Site museum close to the site. You can see some old images from the excavation period.
At Bihar Museum, they have re-created those niches and put the replicas and original Murtis in them. So, it is easier for you to visualize how Nalanda was once upon a time. I remember the beautiful Vishnu Murtis in shining polished stone.
Bihar is the land of sun worship. In fact, it is the only place where the Sun worship continues in the form of Chhath Puja. A lot of Sun temples are there in almost all parts of Bihar.
There are villages where Surya Murtis have been found in village ponds or in random excavations. You can see some of the best Surya Murtis at Bihar Museum in Patna.
I remember a big sculpture that shows the Sun riding on his 7 horse chariot. You can identify Surya Murti when you see a male figure holding two full blown lotus in its hand. Another identification is presence of big gum boots and 7 horses.
While at sculptures, also see the life size Matrikas in stone on the first floor.
Acquaint Yourself with Archaeological Map of Bihar
Bihar is one of the oldest continuously inhabited parts of India. It has been the Magadha and Anga of Mahabharata, I was the Pataliputra of Mauryans and home to prestigious universities like Nalanda, Vikramashila and Odantpuri.
This land has history hidden in its layers. A map beautifully depicts the archaeological sites in Bihar. There is a lovely depiction of how the archaeological excavations are done. You get to an archaeologist’s tools and learn about the common objects found like coins, tools and pottery.
I found this section very educating and visually appealing.
Animated Madhubani Paintings
We all identify Madhubani Paintings with Bihar. In fact they are the signature of this region in the world. At Bihar Museum, I was happy to see an animated version of Madhubani paintings. Panels with digital paintings get into motion as you stand in front of them.
Softly, the music associated with the scene plays from the speakers above. When I visited, there was a huge crowd around, so it was difficult to listen to the music. That apart, I think it is a great way to understand the culture of Bihar.
Other Attractions at Bihar Museum
Besides this you can see all possible art forms of Bihar from Manjusha to Seekhi art to terracotta carvings.
Wildlife of Bihar section displays dioramas of wildlife in Bihar. I rather appreciated the map of wildlife. I hope those places have some tourism infrastructure to actually see that wildlife in the wild.
Children’s section here engages kids very creatively.
Tools of the Trade – Any great civilization is based on commerce, so was Bihar through the ages. At Bihar Museum, you get a glimpse of coins, items traded and trader’s life. Curious weights and measures make a good display.
Travel Tips for Bihar Museum
Bihar Museum is located centrally in Patna, you cannot miss it.
You need at least a couple of hours to see it, although spending a day would be ideal.
There is a restaurant in the museum, where you can have Litti Chokha.
For more details check out the museum map of their website.