Acquired from bygone eras

Acquired from bygone eras

Bronze statues, an ancient script written on palm leaves, and pots, pans from the previous eras, are you interested? If yes, then, Kannada Research Institute (KRI) in Dharwad is the place to be in. Established in 1939, it is one of the premier research institutes in the State.

The KRI museum comes under the management of Karnatak University. It has made vast contributions in terms of research and teaching. It is said that the surface explorations conducted by the institute have yielded pre-historic artefacts in areas like Dharwad, Vijayapura, Belagavi etc. 

The museum has on display various neolithic items found in the State and specimens from heritage sites like Khyad in Badami and from the banks of River Malaprabha. It is said that Robert Foote, a British geologist and archaeologist, would carry out expeditions with the KRI in these areas and as a result, many sites from palaeolithic, neolithic and megalithic eras were discovered.

Displaying an age

KRI is an archaeological and art museum which has interesting sections like, prehistoric and historical antiquities, stone and metal images, palaeographic gallery, memorial stones and epigraphs, numismatic cabinet, art (paintings, sketches and photographs), historical documents and a manuscripts library, to mention a few. Charts and maps of historical and literary interest are also prepared and exhibited for the information of the visitors.

 Antiquities from an iron age site at Herkal in Bilagi Petha, Vijayapura, are displayed in a section. Also, on the upper shelves, there are button-bottomed vases and polished and painted pot-sherds from the Satavahana period, pieces of conch bangles, terracotta elephant head and lion that were collected from the area. Thick pottery pieces, iron slabs and ash found on the site suggest that it dates back to the iron age, and is similar to the cinder mounds noticed by Robert Bruce Foote in Ballari district. 

There are about 400 original objects from Mohenjo-daro in the museum. These were donated by the Archaeological Survey of India, thereby, making KRI the only museum in North Karnataka to have items from the Indus Valley Civilisation. 

Furthermore, there are about 1,400 coins preserved in the museum. These belonged to the Bharasivas, the mamlatdars of Ron, Honnavar and Belagavi. It also has early coins, made of lead from Banavasi and Kolhapur, and copper coins from Herkal. There are also ones from the East India Company and the Nizam’s time.  

Text, sketch & more 

The museum has a manuscript library, which includes text written on palm leaves and paper. It includes material from puranas, kavyas, and biographies. The section has around 1,500 books. In its display, the museum has around 75 sketches, which illustrate the social and political lives of the people under the Chalukya and Vijayanagara rule. There are scenes from places like Pattadkal and Hampi on display here. 

 Furthermore, in the museum, the antiquarian remains are in the shape of inscriptions, sculptures and stones belonging to the dynasties of Chutukulananda, Kadamba, Vijayanagara, Satavahanas, Mughals and Adilshahis. Almost 18,000 documented images are treasured in the museum.

 The exhibits of the museum are displayed in the glass cupboards and racks in different galleries along with labels in Kannada and English. There is a dearth of space and the museum is unable to accommodate all its pieces on the shelves. So, many of these pieces are stored in lockers. The must-see antiquities include veeragallus, nishidhi stones, copper plate inscriptions and so on. The curator of the museum, S K Melakar, says, “The interpretation of all the preserved antiquities is a most fascinating study of the history and other facets of this culturally rich province. Many scholars have contributed immensely to KRI in the past seven decades.”

Otherwise, these instruments of knowledge would have been neglected and disappeared due to the effects of weather and vandalism. In the interest of historical knowledge, it helps to study these relics in the Kannada Research Institute Museum. For more information, call the curator on 9449265780.