Save our historical treasures at the Sarnath Museum!

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Dear people of India, 

Recall that proud feeling you feel when reading about how India used to be the "Sone Ki Chidhiya (Golden Bird)' once upon a time in the distant past, recall the pride felt when you realised that the founders of one of the world's largest faiths, Buddhism, recall the patriotic feelings while watching the Republic Day celebrations on TV, where all of India's culture is showcased on 'Jhaankis'. Now picture a part of these relics, proofs of our ancient civilisation roots deteriorating each day due to the negligence in storing them correctly.  Makes you cringe, right? For this reason, my dear fellow citizens, today I approach all of you to unite to save our historical treasures placed in the Sarnath Museum, Varanasi. 

On my trip to Varanasi recently, I was bestowed with the opportunity of visiting one of India’s oldest museum, the Sarnath Museum in Varanasi, UP. The museum housing up to 6,832 sculptures and artefacts as ancient as the 3rd Century BCE has become a grave cause of concern.

The causes of concern are: 

  • Sculptures and Artefacts vulnerable to damage due to the absence of a boundary or enclosure: Majority of sculptures and artefacts housed by the museum are kept unprotected by any glass enclosure or even a fence; which results in visitors constantly touching them. This has caused a significant amount of damage to them which is prominently visible to the naked eye. The surface of the sculptures has blackened from the deposit of a layer of greasy dirt formed by the dirt and oil from constant touching by people. The ancient sculptures are even subjected to scratching with nails by people who are a bit too keen to investigate the surface. It will not be a surprise if there is major intentional damage by anyone of ill-will with a sharp object. (Since cameras or phones are not allowed inside the museum, photo proof of this can be found here, where lack of a boundary or enclosure can be clearly seen for many objects.)
  • Allowance of eating food inside the museum: There is no check on the food objects taken inside the museum. I have personally witnessed people eating chips inside the museum and touching the sculptures with the same dirty hands. Presence of material like food and water in the museum will lead to enhanced bacterial growth and damage.
  • Extremely low entry fees: Home to sculptures and artefacts as old as the 3rd century BCE, the Sarnath museum is none less than a treasure chest, glorifying the richness and beauty of our Indian heritage. To keep an entry fee as low as Rs.5 is in itself demeaning to the pride we have for our heritage and culture. With entry fees as low as low as this even for foreigners, which is not even equal to a quarter of a dollar, it sends out the message that this is how less we value our history. Apart from this, given the immense number of foreign tourists visiting it each day, an increased entry fee will itself lower the burden of finances for the museum maintenance.

On interaction with a few locals in the vicinity over the low Museum fees I came to know of a very saddening opinion, which is, “Who will come to visit this broken stuff if the fee is increased?” This is a matter of great shock and concern that such is the level of unawareness among the people of our country regarding our ancient history. With this kind of mindset, even if the proofs of the existence of the Mahabharata, like the ruins of Dwarika Nagari, even then this will be what people will remark and value them.

An increased fee, I believe, will itself do a part of this job as it will affect the human psychology into deeming it as something valuable because it is expensive. Just the way it works for precious stones like diamond and others; the majority of the demand for these is simply because these are too expensive.

Keeping in mind all of the above facts, today I implore you, a wise citizen of India, to please take out 2 minutes of your valuable time to save the remnants of our rich cultural heritage and sign this petition.



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