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Srinagar's Shri Pratap museum: A place to relive Kashmir's history

The Durga idol that was handed back to Prime Minister Modi by German Chancellor Angela Merkel Photograph: (WION)

WION Srinagar Jul 12, 2018, 02.52 PM (IST) Ieshan Bashir Wani

The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been ruled by several kings. One of the key places to relive that history 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 was recently in the news after an idol of the Hindu goddess Durga was brought back from Germany and placed here. The idol was handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel after their talks in New Delhi on October 6, 2015. 

"The idol of goddess Durga travelled to Germany and was handed over to the government of India by the German chancellor," says Iqbal Ahmad, the museum's assistant curator. 

The idol was stolen from a temple in Pulwama in South Kashmir in the 1990's. 

The Indian government traced it to the Linden museum in Stuttgart in 2012, after which they approached the German authorities. 

The authorities at Shri Pratap museum date the idol back to the eighth century AD when sculpture art flourished in the Valley. Kashmir's sculpture art was influenced mainly by the Gandhara and Gupta schools of art. 

The museum was ruined by the 2014 floods but most of the artefacts in were saved. 

Not only does the museum contains several sculptures and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses but it also displays abundant antique objects from various corners of Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan (which is now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).

Munir-Ul-Islam, Director, Archives, Archaeology & Museums, says 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 70,000 coins, right from the inception of coins in the human history," he says. 

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

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