Watson Museum, Rajkot, Gujarat - a popular place to visit

Watson Museum, Gujarat. guidetogo.in

Watson Museum, Rajkot , Gujarat. gozocabs.com

If you have ample time, it is nice to visit the  Jubilee Gardens where the Watson Museum, Rajkot is set in the midst of  beautiful lush greenery.  The Watson Museum is a popular museum patronized by the Gaekwad ruling dynasty.  Presently,  it is being managed by the Gujarat Government, the museum is believed to be one of the best among the seven such museums located across Saurashtra region

English  Agent col Watson, kathiavar (GJ) timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

It was Watson, the  British Political Agent  (Kathiawar Agency from 1881 to 1889).  in Kathiwad, who made an in-depth study of historical artifacts with the due patronage of the royal families in the region  and  he initiated the documentation of his detailed work.   Many heroical exploits of  erstwhile princely 'clans' and their impact on modern  Indian history would have either gone unnoticed or lost but for the dedicated efforts of Col  John W. Watson. Arriving in India at the age of 16, he served here as a colonial agent for the British government for 35 long years and worked mostly in Kathiwar region, besides, Pune, Ranchi, etc. While serving in western India, being gregarious and inquisitive, he  befriended as many as 200 princely clans and their chieftains  and collected vast information about their culture, history, genealogy, etc. After his unexpected death in 1889 (aged 51), his works, manuscripts were safely  kept with  Meramvara, a Rajput family of  Bagsara  whose was uncle was the Diwan of . the Rajkot royal family. Meramvara kept the valuable manuscripts with him.   Dr Subhash Mahila an academic with a university took keen interest and complied the works of Watson into  a book.  Watson   published his first book on Kathiavad in 1884 and it dealt with various problems in the kathiavar (Kathivad) region - political, cultural and historical. According to Khachar, a historian and academic “Kathis were ruling over nearly 47 big and small kingdoms,.......................... 

Rajcot Museum, GJ. outlookindia.com

So, it is quite appropriate that the museum is named after him in his honor.   The museum has excellent collections of precious objects from the princely State of Rajkot founded by the Jadeja Rajputs.  The collection includes  nice paintings and artifacts donated by the various royal families, an extensive memorabilia of Colonial rule and attractive textiles and jewelry depicting the traditions of Bharwads, Ahirs, Darbars and other indigenous people of the province. There is also an interesting collection of Indus Valley Civilization artifacts collected from various sites around the Saurashtra region. The 13th-century carvings, temple statues/idols, costumes and design of the houses of the local tribal people are quite interesting. The Watson Museum also houses an excellent collection of traditional, archaeological items and coins. Also included are invaluable articles, artifacts, photographs, a reference library. The museum has many publications to its credit and they are available for sale at the museum's counter.  It was extended and renovated by Maharajah Sayajirao Gaekwad III, continuing the legacy and tradition of his royal family. 

The Darbar Hall has the most interesting collections in the museum that includes a stone sculpture of Lord Brahma at the entrance and depiction of  facets of the princely states of Kathiawar. Amazingly, the walls are adorned with   the insignia of all the states and portraits of prominent Kathiawari kings.  The 7th century Gupta era statue of Surya, beautiful Matrikas of Jhinjuwada, Sukhasan sculpture of Shiva-Parvati, a varaha (boar) statue from the 12th century and a marble Vishnu sculpture, etc.,  are in the gallery section. 

The inscription gallery has quite fascinating items - the earliest inscribed stone and copper plates, including those from the Mauryan era, Rudrasen Kshatrapas, Solanki dynasty and Vaghela period, etc. Included are  also replicas of objects excavated from the sites of the Harappan civilization and photographs of archaeological sites. 

Yet another fact is part of the palace is being used as a training school called No.17 Tetra School by the Indian Air Force.

Queen Victoria, Watson Museum, Gujarat. places-to-visit-in-gujarat.blogspot.com

The museum is in the Queen Victoria memorial institute buildings located in Jubilee Garden, Rajkot. Col. Watson, served as  the British Political Agent of Kathiawar Agency  for 8 years till his death in 1889. The museum was named in fond memory of Colonel John Watson in 1888. He developed a passion for history and archaeology and in the course of his long stay here  he had made vast collections of artifacts, etc., of historical importance related to Gujarat and its ruling classes and they are all well preserved here.  The museum building was completed in 1893, and opened to the public by Governor Lord George Harris of Bombay  Presidency. The statue of Her MajestQueen Victoria was unveiled by H.E. the Lord Curzon of Kedleston in 1897.

The Watson museum, for convenient public viewing,  is divided into various sections such as paintings and manuscripts, textile, inscription, sculptures, coins, anthropology, folk embroidery and handicraft, musical instruments, woodwork, natural history and rocks and minerals. An important annual event that takes place  in the museum is known as the Bhartiya Shilp Samruddhi. It is a week-long celebration that takes place here during the second week of January. It is well attended by the people.