Jaipur has always be known for its aesthetic and architectural expertise. The Albert Hall museum is one of the architectural gems in the pink city. Located in the beautiful Ramnivas garden, the museum holds a variety of the ancient work of local artisans in and around India and the neighbouring countries. The purpose of the museum was to preserve the art of local artists which might have faded otherwise. The foundation stone of the Albert Hall Museum was laid in the year 1867 when the Prince of Wales visited India.
The museum was designed by Major Samuel Swinton Jacob. He was a British military engineer who became the director of the Jaipur PWD in 1867 and spent the rest of his 35 year career in Jaipur, contributing substantially to the architectural activities of the time.The task of designing and building the Albert Hall fell on the shoulders of Swinton Jacob. He sent his staff to study the Mughal monuments in Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikhri to be inspired to come up with new design ideas for Albert Hall. The architectural style adopted was Indo- Saracenic. It combines the horizontal lines of traditional Hindu architecture with the curved shapes typical of Byzantine and Italianate structures to present a vision of East and West meeting in a harmonious and mutually beneficial fashion.
It is important to note that India was under the British rule in those days and there was a need to preserve and protect the tradition of India. The museum collection was made under the superintendence of Colonel TN Hendley. It was commenced in August 1331. There were temporary rooms that were set up around the city to house the different artefacts and were finally shifted to the main building in September 1336. Carpets from the 17th to 19th century along with a lot of wooden and international art, jewellery and ivory designs, musical instruments, sculptures, stone carvings, arms and armour and many such things have been retained in the museum. The collection is not just limited to India, there are pottery masterpieces displayed from Britain, Turkey, Japan and Iran. The museum also displays an Egyptian mummy from the 322-30 B.C.
Buff sand-stone Panelof, the 'Sapt Matrika' or the seven goddesses. They are shown dancing the Veerbhadra (emanation of Shiva) who holds the Veena. The Matrikas include Maheshwari, Vaishnavi, Chamunda, Varahi, Kaumari, Indrani and Brahmani. It is a reference to the powerful forms of female deities found in the Durga Saptasati of the Markandeya Purana. They were created to vanquish the demon Mahisasur.
Chamunda as described in the Markandeya Purana, "From the forehead of Durga, creased with wrathful frowns sprang forth a goddess of black and formidable aspect, armed with scimitar and noose and bearing a mace, decorated with a garland of skulls".