From paintings of the Neolithic age to earliest known coins in India, a treasure house representing the culture and ethos of all three major regions of Jammu and Kashmir, has come up in Jammu University.
The five-storied auditorium building is a state of the art marvel for Jammu, the state's winter capital. "It has no parallel in any of the universities in India," says Jammu University vice chancellor Amitabh Mattoo.
It also offers a panoramic view of Jammu, a city dotted with Hindu temples, Bahu Fort and the flat-roofed homes on both the banks of the river Tawi. From its rooftop one can see the Trikuta hills, where the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located.
The auditorium, built for Rs.160 million provided under a special package of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, represents the culture of the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, the Hindu-majority Jammu region and the Buddhist Ladakh area.
"We hope to commission it by Jan 26," Mattoo said, giving an introduction to the auditorium that gives an insight into traditional Kashmiri, Dogri and Ladakhi culture.
It is bound to be a great attraction for history lovers.
Ranging from the model of the Kirmachi group of temples of Udhampur to the Burzahama Pit in Kashmir, from paintings of the Neolithic age to earliest known coins in India, from stone needles to coat pins made from animal bones, the exhibits take visitors through the pages of history.
The auditorium is named after the legendary general of the Dogra army, Zorawar Singh, who extended the frontiers of the state up to the trans-Himalayan regions of Ladakh, Skardu and Baltistan.
Fully air-conditioned, it has six main segments: art gallery, museum, cafeteria, main hall with a capacity of 1,250, a television production centre and an FM radio station.
The art gallery Rinchon B'zang Po, named after the great Buddhist saint of Ladakh, houses classical pieces of art and artefacts of Ladakh including oil paintings on canvases, and wooden and stone sculptures by renowned artists.
Among the exhibited art pieces, a painting by Yogan Choudhary costs Rs.18 million in the international market.
The Nund Reshi Museum, named after Kashmiri Sufi Saint Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, depicts not only traditions but inter-cultural aspects that have been the hallmark of the Sufi traditions.
The metal frame larger than life size portrait of Gen Zorawar Singh dons the entry while in the backyard of the auditorium are planted saplings of Simarouba glauca locally known as Laxmi Taru, which botanists and agricultural scientists say would bring a yellow revolution in the region.
The plant, yellow in colour, is said to have a great medicinal and aromatic value.