Friday, 8 September 2017


Akshaya Kumar Maitreya Museum was set up in the University of North Bengal on February 1962. Its first secretary was Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, professor and ancient Indian history stalwart in North Bengal. Long back in February 1965, the museum was opened for only those who expressed interest in historical research. However it was opened for general public on 28th December 2006 after it was shifted to the new building which was inaugurated by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

Visnu : Greyish black stone
12th Century A.D. Find spot Rajshahi, 
S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

Manasa: black stone: 
12th Century A.D.Find spot:Beyatta,
Uttar Dinajpur.Donor:
 Bimal Chandra Mondal

Surya:Black basalt.11th Century A.D.
Find spot: Bhitargar,Jalpaiguri.
Donor: Nirmal Ch.Choudhury,Jalpaiguri.

Nrsimhavatara of Vishnu: Black Basalt.
11th-12th Century A.D. Find spot: Mustaphapur,
Gangarampur, D. Dinajpur.Donor N.C.Choudhury

Figure of an ascetic(Saivite?) Black basalt
11th-12th Century A.D Nayanpur, 
Gangarampur. D. Dinajpur. Donor N.C.Choudhury

In the beginning, there were only a handful of artifacts confined to a small room adjacent to the history department of the North Bengal University. Professor P. K. Bhattacharya made efforts to expand the museum’s collections by going around the districts of North Bengal at his own expense, visiting historical sites like Baneswar, Pundibari, Gosanimari all with a desire to collect relics for the museum.

Navagraha Panel: Black stone, 10th.Century A.D.
Chalukyan Sculpture, Find spot, Rajsahi,Bangladesh
Donor. S.P. Roychoudhury.

Stela of an image in black stone
Find spot :Kaliaganj, U.Dinajpur.
Donor. Kalpana Banerjee, U.Dinajpur.

Nandi, Blank stone,12 Century AD
Find spot: Patkata Kotoyali, Jalpaiguri.
Donor. N.C.Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Danapati; Black Basalt
Find spot: Rajganj, Jalpaiguri
Donor. N.C.Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Camunda; Black Basalt,11th Century A.D.
Collected from : Customs, Siliguri Division.
Find spot : Bedkandi, Belakoba, Jalpaiguri.

The name Akshaya Kumar Maitreya Museum was considered on the suggestion of Sri Nirmal Chandra Choudhuri who donated his personal collections for the good of the museum . “ Akshaya Kumar Maitreya (1861-1930) a lawyer, historian and a social worker, was a close friend of Rabindranath Tagore.  Akshaya Kumar Maitreya contributed to different disciplines of human knowledge, especially history, literature, language, culture, art and archaeology  of Bengal.

Surya, on a pilaster(broken): Black stone
7th-8th Century A.D. Find spot: Adina, Malda.
Donor : N.C. Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Brahma(Middle portion broken): Black stone
12th Century A.D. Find spot: Rajshasi, Bangladesh.
Donor: S. P. Roy Chowdhury, Malda.

Visnu: Greyish Black basalt: 12th Century A.D.
Find spot. Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Donor :  S. P. Roy Chowdhury, Malda.

Apsara: Grey Sand stone: 12th Century A.D.
Bangarh, Dakshin Dinajpur.
Donor : N.C.Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Nrsimhavatara Vishnu 12th. Century A.D.
Find spot: Mustaphapur, P.S. Gangarampur.
Donor : S. P. Roy Chowdhury, Malda.

His sagacity probably influenced Kumar Sarat Chandra Roy ( Jamindar of Dighapatiya) and a school teacher named Ramaprasad Chanda, who come together  for their common interest in research and antiquarian studies. They established The Barendra Research Society and Barendra Research Museum for the promotion of higher studies and research in the glorious past of Bengal. They also established the Rajshahi Museum in April, 1910 (now the Research Museum).

Balarama: 18th Century A.D.
Collected from Khalia Rajbari Temple
Faridpur, Bangladesh. Donor. S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

Matsya-vatara: 18th Century A.D.
Collected from Khalia Rajbari Temple
Faridpur, Bangladesh. Donor. S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

Varasa-vatara: 18th Century A.D.
Collected from Khalia Rajbari Temple
Faridpur, Bangladesh. Donor. S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

Nrsimhavatara-vatara: 18th Century A.D.
Collected from Khalia Rajbari Temple,
Faridpur,Bangladesh. Donor .S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

“Akshaya Kumar Maitreya started his education at Kumarkhali under exemplary Harinath Majumder,better known as “Kagal Harinath” for his teaching. He passed the entrance examination in 1878, FA in 1980 from Rajshahi College and BA in 1883 from Presidency College, and BL in 1885 from Rajshahi college. He joined the Rajshahi Bar in the same year. Akshaya Kumar Maitreya’s interest in his profession was more than skin deep. His passion was History and research and he dedicated his whole life to them.

Kurma-vatara: 18th Century A.D.
Collected from Khalia Rajbari Temple
Faridpur, Bangladesh. Donor. S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

A person riding a peacock
18th-`19th Century A.D.
 Donor. S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

Matsya-vatara: 18th Century A.D.
Collected from Khalia Rajbari Temple
Faridpur, Bangladesh. Donor. S.P.Roy Chowdhury.

Collected from Ghosh-Pukur, Near Siliguri.

When as a student of first Arts class he studied Macaulay’s Clive and Hastings ; he found it an utter subversion of truth. He decided to produce a series of short historical sketches and monographs with a view to awakening the interest of his countrymen in their own history and culture. Hence he collected source materials , both literary and archaeological, for a long period. He acquired profound and authoritative knowledge of ancient and medieval history, and of the art and iconography of Bengal.

Terracotta miscellaneous objects.
Harinarayanpur, 24- Parganas.
Donor: Pranab Kr. Chatterjee.Durgapur.

Terracotta miscellaneous objects.
Harinarayanpur, 24- Parganas.
Donor: Pranab Kr. Chatterjee.Durgapur.

Terracotta miscellaneous objects.
Harinarayanpur, 24- Parganas.
Donor: Pranab Kr. Chatterjee.Durgapur.

Akshaya Kumar Maitreya produced a series of historical monographs under the title of “Aitisihik Chitra” (1899) and introduced “Sirajuddaula”(1898) and “Mir Qasim”(1906), “Rani Bhabani” (1898), “Firingi Banik”(1922) and a host of other historical figures in Bengal. He produced and published numerous dissertations on the political and cultural history of Bengal, on places of historical importance and on art and iconography. In “Gourlekhamala”, published in 1912 , he edited a few copper plates and inscriptions, and provides their Bangla translations. This opened up new avenues of historical research in Bengal.” (Banglapedia)*

Ardhanarisvara :Octo-alloy; 12th Century A.D.
Find spot: Kuchlibari, Mekliganj, Cooch Behar.

Ambika, Octo-alloy, 10th Century A.D.
Find spot : Paharpur, Rajshahi, Bangladesh.
N.C. Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Siva-Sakti(Yab-yum pose), Octo-alloy
12th Century A.D. Find Spot. Mathabhanga,
Cooch Behar, N.C. Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Uma- alingana (Inscribed) : Octo alloy:
12th Century A.D. Find spot. Tapan,
South Dinajpur.
Donor: Siva Sailam, District Magistrate, 
West Dinajpur.

Just like Akshaya Kumar Maitreya, Nirmal Chandra Choudhury was also born in Rajshahi. Nirmal Chandra had immense respect for Akshaya Kumar because he was inspired by the personal collections that are now exhibited in the Barendra Research Museum. Later on Nirmal Kumar also started collecting historical artifacts and the collections that he made between 1964 and 1996 were donated entirely to the University of North Bengal with a precondition that the Museum should be named after Akshaya Kumar Maitreya.
Having been employed in the land revenue department of the Government of West Bengal, Mr. Choudhury had great depth of knowledge on the history of India, especially Bengal. Later he went on to author “ Akshaya Kumar Maitreya: Jiwan O Sadhana” and spent his last days in pandapara, Jalpaiguri.

Next contributor of the museum was Santipriya Roy Choaudhury, who was originally a chief collector in the Railways and his interest in history know no limits. Since he had to move about different places because of his duty, he collected every item as and when possible. He belonged to Faridpur district of undivided Bengal, and later in life, after partition, came to settle down in Malda. He brought with him his personal collections of artifacts, which were kept in the Rajaram museum – named after his grandfather- at Faridpur, now in Bangladesh.

Wooden musk
Rangdhamali, Jalpaiguri.
Donor: Nirmal Chandraq Chowdhury. Jalpaiguri.

Nakshi Katha
Yachi, Gangarampur, South Dinajpur.
Donor : Namita Dutta, S. Dinajpur.

Nakshi Katha
Yachi, Gangarampur, South Dinajpur.
Donor : Namita Dutta, S. Dinajpur.

 Horse: Octo-alloy
Find Spot. Bulbulchandi, Malda.
N.C. Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

Akshaya Kumar Maitreya Museum is rich in artifacts, manuscripts and other items of historical value. More or less all the items are contributed by connoisseurs of historical relics. The museum comprises a couple of rooms full of metal images, stone statues from the post Gupta era, Kushan Coins, Sanskrit, Bengali and Tibetan manuscripts written on handmade paper, terracotta of the Maurya/ Sunga era, painted wooden colourful musks, musical instruments like Sarinda used by Bhawaias, weapons used by Mughal Chieftains and Coochbehar Maharajas, Patachitra or scroll painting, a Huge Canoe collected from Champasari (Siliguri), beautiful embroidered silk quilts or Nakshi Kantha and objects made with cork or bamboo.

The museum has also a library  of comprehensive collection of old and rare books on art , archaeology and musicology. A sculpture of “ Makar-Ganga” carved out of black stone from the Rajmahal hills and a rare icon dating back to the Pala dynasty during the 11th century found in the Kushmadi area at South Dinajpur are among the best artifacts. The museum also boasts of a rare collection of 10 terracotta with 10 incarnation of lord Vishnu carved on them.  rare pieces of Tibetan , Assamese and Bengali manuscripts and around 40 coins dating back to the 18th century also adorn the shelves of the museum.

The glorious past of North Bengal has not yet been truly  unveiled. Though explored partially, many of the artifacts could not be properly interpreted in writing in the local history of the region. The museum has now become rich repository of collections of sculptures, painting , manuscripts, coins and many other artifacts.

Wooden musk
Rangdhamali, Jalpaiguri.
Donor: Nirmal Chandra Choudhury. Jalpaiguri.

The sculptures in the galleries draw attention to the visitors with its intricate beauties of craftsmanship . Most of the sculptures belong to Pala-Sena school of culture particularly from the period 11th to 12th centuries. Similarly the collections like paintings, terracotta and clay articles, coins masks and other artifacts are of great antic value and useful to the scholars and others in understanding the archaeological history of North Bengal.” as per Mr. Pijushkanti Saha, Vice Chancellor, NBU, 12th March, 2005.**

Traditional Musical instruments of Rava community.

Traditional Musical instruments of Rava community.

Dvarapala( or, Gate-Keeper) (surface effaced) : Sandstone.
15th -16th Century A.D. Find spot-Sitalkuchi,Coochbehar.
Donor : Nirmal Chandra Choudhury.

The Museum.

The museum represents the culture and tradition of North Bengal. Its items are of never ending value to the public and they should carefully preserve for posterity. It is important to know that the museum belongs to one and all and not just the university authorities. Therefore, every citizen must take of its contents because only our tradition, culture and history have held us together.

Sources : 
         1. Akshya Kumar Maitreya Museum incorporating Raja Rajaram Museum
             collection catalogue part-1 & 2  by Sri Pranab Kr. Bhattacharyya
             ( University of N.Bengal and K.P.Bagchi  and Company.).**
         2. Jalpaigurir Purakirti" by Tarapada Santra.
         3. "Banglapedia" (National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Chief editor,
              Mr. Sirajul Islam)*
         4. "University hospital to restore History" The Telegraph, April 23,2008.
         5. "Maharaja missives make it to history home" by Anuradha Lakhotia,
              The Telegraph, July 19, 2003.
         6. "Historical Dictionaries of Bangalies" by Kunal Chakraborty and Subra
         7. Lastly, Mr. Fazlar Rahman, Museum in charge, without his cordial help
             and co-operation , we could not proceed to document this remarkable
             museum. Mr. P. K. Bhattacharyya mentioned in the preface of second 
             edition of museum catalogue, " Mr. Fazlar Rahman, Sr. Technical 
             Assistant, the lone museum worker who work silently and efficiently, 
             making a number of museum publications to see the light, and associating 
             himself with all the activities of the museum and thereby raising the small
             museum to its present stature".**

             Research : Santanu Roy
             Picture Courtesy : Ranadeep Choudhury.

1 comment:

injamaven said...

Beautiful blog! Thank you so much. I don't have enuf Bengali murtis.