Kaneri Math (कणेरी मठ) – Siddhagiri Gramjivan Museum

 

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Fourteen kilometres south of Kolhapur, just off the highway (to your right as you go towards Belgaum) is Kaneri Math, which houses the Siddhagiri Gramjivan Museum.

This is India’s answer to Madame Tussauds – in cement.

And rather than just keep statues of famous personalities (it has a good share of those from days gone by), the “open” museum houses wonderful depiction from the daily village life; even if you allow the slight bias of design and presentation to the region it belongs to.

Photographer

Unfortunately, photography isn’t allowed inside, which in a way, meant that I had a lot of time to see the sculptures for what they are. I seemed to take time to see things without the viewfinder. Have look at the slide show on their site. Images in this post are taken at the राशी पार्क (Zodiac Garden) just opposite the Museum.

I have always been critical of art installations in India — whether private, government-sponsored or charitable. Primarily, because there is an apathy to the presentation. Each step towards the art, object or artefact, makes you want to leave — that is the state of presentation. And, no, I do not mean thoughtful lighting or gadgety stuff which adorn most museums in the world today. Even basic information is absent.

Kaneri Math was slightly better, I would think, in that respect. Where it has statues of most saints, it gives a brief bio of the saint. And surprisingly, in English. Most local museums in India assume that only locals come to visit. Or perhaps that is the way the local guides make money.

This museum is about a three-hour walk and worth every step. The effort is commendable and can be improved upon. And I plan to go back in a year or so to see what the empty spaces have been filled with. It seems that they may be able to maintain the quality and the cleanliness of the place, given that this belongs to a private charitable trust and they are able to call the shots.

That should be the case with all museums in India.

Approximate Google Map Location

Getting There:
On NH4, pass Kolhapur and drive towards Belgaum for approximately 10 km, at the Gokul Shirgaon Exit, take right and follow the signs for Siddhagiri Museum (another 5 – 6 kms)

 

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