From the Trimurti of the Elephanta Caves to the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath… now you won’t have to travel miles to see your favourite works of art. A group of students have come together to recreate replicas of India’s priceless historical treasures — all under one roof.
Students of fine arts from Patna Arts College, supervised by Muhammed ‘KK’, senior superintendent of the Archeological Survey of India, have come up with a Replica Museum near Siri Fort Auditorium in South Delhi, which boasts of the Yogapatta Narasimha statue from Karnataka’s Hampi, the fasting Buddha from the Central Museum, Lahore, and many other such fascinating historical works of art. Opened to the public on May 2011, the latest additions to the museum are statues of emperors Ashoka, Akbar and Shah Jahan.
At present the museum has copies of 30 of the rarest sculptures from distant Indian states and Asian countries — each regarded as masterpieces in terms of artistic creativity.
KK, who is also the mastermind behind the concept, says, “In 2010, I thought of bringing copies of these masterpieces in one place. I realised that it is impossible for most arts enthusiasts to visit distant countries and have a first hand experience of various works of art.”
KK first selected 100 rare sculptures from India and 50 from various Asian countries. At the outset he earmarked some space in the existing Children’s Museum near Siri Fort Auditorium for the museum. The biggest challenge was to look for artists who could make close-to-actual copies of the sculptures and turn his dream into a reality. And students of Patna Arts College lived up to his expectations.
Terming it as one of the toughest tasks of his career, 25-year-old Pankaj Kumar, a fourth-year student of the bachelors of fine arts course, says, “The biggest challenge for us was to make a replica of historic works from photographs. The ASI did not have the requisite funds to take us to various places where we could go personally to examine the rare art works. As a result, we worked day and night for almost six months and created replicas of approximately 30 statues.”
Another young artist ,Vijay Kumar, who just finished his masters in fine arts from Jamia Millia Islamia after graduating from the Patna Arts College, says that most of these statues are thousands of years old and have damaged parts. “For instance the original statue of Deedar Lakshmi, more than a thousand years old and displayed at Patna Museum, has a broken nose and hand. But we had to do our creative best to conceal some of the flaws.”
Even the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath originally had a wheel that was placed over four lions seated back to back. This is missing in the real statute but the students have successfully recreated it in the replica.
Apart from artistic challenges, scarcity of funds was a major problem. The students earned very little in terms of remuneration. “The cost of creating one replica comes anywhere between Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 6 lakh but with the help of these students, we made recreations possible for a mere Rs. 90,000,” explains KK.
“Each student got Rs. 500 for a day’s work,” says Gopal, another fine arts student.