A small town in Punjab with a population of no more than 25,000, boasts of a museum designed by the world famous architect Moshe Safdie (Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Holocaust museum in Israel are some of his earlier projects), in collaboration with the Anandpur Sahib foundation. The Virasat-e-Khalsa museum in Anandpur Sahib tells us the history of Sikhism through 3D installations and pop up graphics. There are no artifacts and objects on display. The emphasis is on story telling through the use of new age media; a conscious attempt towards preserving the rich oral traditions of our country.
The exterior is typical of Moshe’s architectural sensibilities – green spaces and dramatic curves. The building is divided into two sections with an artificial lake in between. The building which houses the museum is further broken down into three blocks designed artistically. The first one is shaped like a boat, the second is structured like a flower, and the third has a crescent shaped design with petal like projections on its roof.
It has been built at the same site where the Khalsa Panth was formed in the 17th century by Guru Gobind Singh. Within a short time since its opening in 2011, the museum has attracted the likes of Charles and Camilla Parker and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Each gallery has a distinct look. The murals inside the first exhibit depict scenes from Punjab folklore, and are the largest in the world, spanning three floors.
The next time you are in Chandigarh, drive down to Anandpur Sahib and spend some time at the museum.
-By Tanya Anand