Bharat Kala Bhavan started in 1950, as a university museum
is famous for its unique collection of paintings. It lies within the
sprawling grounds of Banaras Hindu University. Its outstanding collection
of sculpture, paintings and textiles began with the private collection of
the enlightened Rai Krishnadasa.
It has a rich collection of Rajasthani paintings, 'pichhwais' and 'pahari' paintings. It also houses exquisite specimens of Nepalese and Tibetan 'thankas', company paintings as well as paintings of contemporary artists. Illustrated 'mrigavati', 'kalpa sutra', 'chopra-panchsika', 'Laura chanda', 'shahinama' and some pages of 'hamzanama' are the prized possessions of this museum.
The sculpture collection includes terracotta and clay objects, stone and bronze and cast metal objects. Ancient terracotta varying from ritual icons to toys to utilitarian objects date to the Indus Valley civilisation, Mauryan, Sunga and Gupta periods. Among the stone sculpture are red sandstone reliefs from the 2nd century BC, Buddhist stupa at Bharhut and rare images and statues from well known schools like Gandhara, which witnessed the synthesis of Greek and Indian styles. Mathura, a powerful art centre during the Kushana period also flourished during this period.
The Textile section has the most impressive collection of Banaras silks and brocades, embroidered shawls from Kashmir and the rare Chamba rumals, once used to wrap ceremonial gifts. The Mughal, Rajasthani and Pahari miniatures are exhibited here with main themes revolving around the various aspects of the life of Krishna.
The museum is open all days except Sundays and university holidays. From July to April, the museum opens at 11o'clock in the morning and closes at 4.30 pm. From May to June, it remains open from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm.