The Indian Museum is India's first and oldest museum. Originally part
of the Asiatic Society, it opened to public in 1875. Here, in the Bharhut
Room, Sunga art is dramatically represented by the railings gateway that have been reassembled to
form the outer wall encompassing a stupa. These are the remains of a
Buddhist stupa discovered in 1873 in Bhardut, a village in Madhya Pradesh, Carved in red sandstone,
quarried from the Vindhyas, it is believed to be similar in scale and
design to the great Sanchi stupa. An inscription on a pillar of the gateway informs us that this was
constructed in the 2nd century BC, during the Sunga Period.
The railings are decorated with bas reliefs depicting both religious and secular themes. Some are
figurative while others are narrative panels, illustrating scenes from the
Jatakas and stories from the Buddha's former lives.