Location: Diamond Harbour.
Time to Visit: 9.30 A.M - 6 P.M.
Preferred Timings: 9.30 A.M. - 11.30 A.M. & 2 P.M. - 5 P.M.
Admission Fee: Nil
How to Reach: Local buses, mini buses and metered taxis are readily available from various parts of the city.
Photography / Video charges: Nil.
Nearest Railway Station: Howrah.
Nearest Metro Station: Kalighat.
Nearest Functional Metro Station: Kalighat.
Nearest International Airport: Netaji Subhas chandra Bose International Airport.
Time required for sightseeing: About 2 hours.
The Gurusaday Museum showcases the rich folk art and crafts of Bengal. The brain behind this museum was a visionary art connoisseur by the name of Sri Gurusaday Dutta who was an Indian Civil Servant. He had worked as a District Collector during the British East India Company's rule.
Bengal has traditionally been a fertile ground for artistic endeavors. The world famous Kalighat school of painting, the fascinating Dhokra crafts, the ancient art forms of Patachitras, terracotta works and of course the sarees of Bengal - Jamdani and Tangails. Before the advent of the British, Bengal's art and craft were patronized by royalty as well as by the rich merchants and zamindars (landlords). As a result, the art and crafts of Bengal flourished.
But, once the British set up base in Bengal and made Kolkata the capital, they kind of crippled Bengal's artisan community and forced them to stop their folk art and craft activities. The British administration was particularly harsh on the Bengal weavers, particularly the muslin weavers, many of whom were even persecuted. The British perhaps wanted to protect the textile mills of Manchester.
On the backdrop of such a hostile condition there appeared a man with an unfathomable zest for Bengal's art and craft. Sri Gurusaday Dutt (1882-1942) was himself a Civil Servant and being the District Collector, he began taking a deep interest in Bengal's fledgling art and craft industry. The specter of poverty in which the artisans of Bengal lived, pained him immensely. Sri Dutt was like a messiah for Bengal's artisans and he was dedicated to reviving Bengal's artistic tradition and heritage. With this aim in mind, he began collecting some of Bengal's rare artifacts and when the collection grew to a sizeable number, all of 2300 items, Sri Dutt set up a Society - The Bengal Bratachari Society and donated the entire collection to the society.
Today a visit to the Gursaday Museum opens up a fascinating window of opportunity to view some of Bengal's best specimen of art and craft. On display at the museum are an exquisite collection of Kalighat scroll paintings dating back to 17th and 18th century. Apart from this, the museum also showcases a wide spectrum of Bengal's Kanthas. You will be mesmerized by Bengal's Terracotta plates, wooden sculptures, a bewildering variety of Bengal potteries, clay idols and wooden utensils to name just a few.
For instance, a closer look at the Kalighat paintings reveals the history,sociology and geography of a particular particular place, often with a local flavor. You will come across hundreds f boldly executed Kalighat watercolors and the manner in which this art form has evolved over the centuries.
The earliest Kalighat paintings exclusively depicts gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. But by the 20th century the artistic community had moved to the cosmopolitan colonial city of Kolkata and needless to say, they had access to a wide range of pictorial art. The Kalighat painters began depicting contemporary urban subjects and the life of English sahibs and the quintessential Kolkata Babus now figured in their paintings.
Apart from Kalighat paintings, the Gurusaday Museum has a bewildering variety of traditional Bengal Patachitras. In Patachitras, the painters use fabric which is the base material and on the fabric they apply clay, cow dung and certain other sticky elements and once properly dried, the fabric becomes ideal for painting. You will be spellbound by the exquisite artistic wizardry of the Pata painters and the manner in which they have drawn religious motifs, Puranic and Vedic stories.
As far as embroidered fabric is concerned, the popularity of Bengal's Kantha is legendary and on display at Gurusaday Museum are some 19th and 20th century Kantha works, each one of them is a masterpiece. In Kantha, the intricate manner in which folk motifs are embellished by simple running stitches are a treat to the eyes. Toady, this ancient art form has captured the imagination of the modern day fashion designers and the Kantha motifs are flaunted in fashionable costumes like never before.
A visit to Gurusaday Museum is not only rewarding, by far it is the best way to appreciate Bengal's rich art and folklore. The "All-under-one-roof" package provides the discerning tourist with a comprehensive insight into Bengal's rich artistic flavors.
The beauty of the artist's strokes, their modern technique, their keen sense of observation, their amazing simplicity and creativity all are on display at this magnificent museum. You can actually sense the beauty of Bengal's essentially folk character.
Kalighat, National Library, Zoological Garden.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/13