People have welcomed the Uttar Pradesh government's decision of changing the name of an upcoming Rs 170 crore museum project near the Taj Mahal, from "Mughal" to "Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj", and claimed that balance will finally be restored. "The Mughal empire is only 500 years old but going back into history, we find a rich treasure of artefacts, structures, wall paintings dating to pre-historic times. "From Bateshwar with 101 Shiva temples in a row along the river Yamuna, to Vrindavan, once the kingdom of Vasudev, father of Sri Krishna, 70 km from the city -- the whole area was called Braj, the land of Sri Krishna who has millions of devotees the world over.
"The Sri Krishna-Radha Leelas and the literature woven around them continue to inspire and loved by the Hindus. The new museum project will help conserve the real history of this Braj area," said eminent environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.
"The Mathura Museum has the best collection of Buddhist artefacts and Buddha statues in the world. However, they have no space, so the valuable antique pieces are carelessly lying around in the open. Now they will have a place and Buddhists from all over will throng the Agra Museum," Shravan Kumar Singh, vice president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, told IANS.
When former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav laid the foundation stone of the Agra project on January 5, 2016, the cost was estimated at Rs 140 crore, but now it's gone up to Rs 170 crore.
For want of funds, the construction work had come to a halt at the six-acre plot, some 1,000 metres away from the Taj Mahal.
Now with the UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam giving the contract to the Tatas, 60 to 70 per cent work has been completed, an official at the site told IANS.
Pre-cast concrete structures are being fabricated to speed up the work on the project coming up according to the guidelines by eminent museum experts in France and the UK.
"Originally, it was to focus on the Mughal era weapons, dresses, culture, and related activities, but the Yogi Adityanath government has now widened its scope and so the museum will showcase the comprehensive history of the Braj Mandal.
"The museum will have indoor auditoriums and open-air theatres for programmes relating to the local culture.
"A library of books on archaeology and history will also be an attraction plus a cafeteria," a Nirman Nigam official told IANS.
The Mathura museum, which will be lending a lot of artefacts due its constrain of space, was founded in 1874 by the then collector FS Growse.
Mathura's collection includes artefacts, pottery, sculptures, paintings, coins plus a large number of collections by eminent colonial archaeologists. Statues from the Kushan and Gupta periods, from the 3 BCE to 12 AD are conserved here.
"Lack of resources and space have been major constraints for Mathura but now with the Agra Museum taking shape, this problem would be sorted out," said Surendra Sharma, founder president of Agra Hotels and Restaurants.
Some quarter are, however not happy with the new name, and have already raised the secular flag.
However, once ready, tourists will have another reason to extend their stay in Agra, say tourism industry leaders.
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