Shri Bhavani Museum located in Aundh, 48 Kms. from
Satara, is perhaps the only museum in the
country that has the largest individual collection in the world to have a
mix of 500 miniature paintings of all major schools -Jaiput, Kangra,
Mughal, Punjab, Bijapur, Pahadi and Maratha schools-of the period between
the 15th and the 19th century.
The Raja of Aundh, the late Bhawanrao Pantpratinidhi in 1938, built the Museum. It is now being looked after by the State Government and is the only museum out of the 13 state museums in Maharashtra, which is housed in a building that was constructed for the purpose of displaying art, and not in a palace.
The museum's inconvenient location, atop a 100m high hill
at the end of a motorable road inaccessible by public transport has been
responsible for it's fading away from the public eye. Yet, the museum
records show that about 100 persons visit the museum every day, mostly
rural folk from the neighborhood.
For the rest of the world Shri Bhavani museum remains undiscovered. It is said that the hilltop that keeps people away from the sight of art was, in fact, deliberately chosen by Bhawanrao so that the dust in Aundh and smoke from the village would not affect the preservation of his paintings.
The great collection that the museum exhibits is actually
the life's work of Bhawanrao, who during the first four decades of this
century spent his time and fortune picking up these masterpieces. The 12
display rooms inside have glass panes on the ceilings for enough sunlight
to flow in. Shri Bhavani museum carries a special section devoted entirely
to paintings by Bhawanrao himself. And his family carried forward the
The museum has a big department of stone created structures including the famous 'Mother and Child' by Henry Moore. Moore's creation was last seen in Delhi nearly 10 years ago when the British Council organised an exhibition of Moore's sculptures. At the time, the Mother and Child sculpture, which was listed in Moore's list as having been sold to the Raja of Aundh, was transported to Delhi. The estimated value was then put at 1.25 lakh and the insurance charges for transportation from Au