Shimla, April 20 - The state museum in this Himachal Pradesh capital, a repository of the state's rich cultural, artistic and archaeological heritage, Friday got a new block to showcase rare miniature paintings.
Inaugurating the block, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said the museum would attract more tourists visiting this town, once the summer capital of British India.
Dhumal, who also holds the tourism portfolio, said over 20,000 tourists, including thousands of foreigners, have been visiting the museum every year.
'With the addition of new block more space would be available to showcase the cultural heritage of the state,' he said.
The new block was constructed at a cost of Rs.5 crore in a typical hill architecture, with wooden work carried out in an artistic manner.
'Pahari' miniature, Himachal jewellery, Rajasthan miniature, contemporary painting, numismatics and anthropological sections have been added to the museum, Manisha Nanda, principal secretary language and culture, told IANS.
She said a special section on Himachali culture would soon be dedicated to the visitors.
Besides exhibits, a laboratory has also been established to conserve and preserve antiquities and manuscripts.
The museum's archaeological gallery has a collection of stone sculptures from different parts of the state. The sculptures of Simhavahini Durga from Hatkoti, Surya from Kullu, and Lakshmi from Nirmand, Kartikeya from Karsog and Nidhi from Kangra are the main attraction.
The specimens of woodcarving are mostly panels retrieved from old ancient temples, old houses and other structures. Some peculiar masks, which are still used in various religious and cultural ceremonies, have also been displayed.
The world-famous Kangra miniature paintings are also on view along with specimens of other schools of paintings like Mandi, Bilaspur and Guler. The wall paintings in the museum have been retrieved from the Rang Mahal of Chamba.
Coins recovered from various parts of the state have been displayed in a chronological order, while weapons used by erstwhile rulers of princely states adorn the arms gallery.