During a visit to Alibaug, my husband and I happened to come across the Karmarkar Museum by sheer luck. We were driving around Alibaug, indulging in street photography or stopping by at picturesque spots to make quick sketches. While doing so, we stumbled upon a quaint bungalow that had some beautiful sculptures in the garden. We became curious and decided to stop by for some photographs. The moment we stepped out of the car we realized this wasn’t an ordinary place, but a treasure house of astounding sculptures created by Padma Shri Vinayak Pandurang Karmakar.
On googling a bit about the museum, we came to know that this hidden gem of Sasawane village is famous amongst locals and art lovers. This museum is in fact Mr.Karmarkar’s ancestral house. Being artists and art enthusiasts ourselves, we couldn’t be happier that we had chanced upon this brilliant museum displaying the works of a legendary artist!
I fall short of words to describe the magic of Mr. Karmarkar’s work, which comprises of mainly human and animal sculptures. It doesn’t matter if the sculpture is small, life-size or larger than life, each sculpture is extremely lifelike and evokes various emotions in the viewer. One must really see these sculptures in person to appreciate them fully.
Sculptures of children, women, and of great personalities like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Mahatma Gandhi coexist in this charming bungalow. And, the bountiful sunlight filtering through the huge windows of the house do full justice to the magnificence of these incredible sculptures.
The finer details of each sculpture left me absolutely spellbound. The emotion displayed on each statue’s face is testament to the caliber of Mr. Karmarkar. One can see the innocence and simplicity of the people living in the pre-independence era. The beautifully carved eyes, hair, attires and poses are spot-on! I was completely fascinated by the angelic faces of children, emotions shining through the eyes of mothers and the layered folds of sarees! It’s truly wondrous that one person could create such outstanding work in his lifetime.
Brief Note on Mr. Vinayak Karmakar
Mr. Vinayak Pandurang Karmakar was an Indian artist, celebrated for his sculptures. He was born in Sasawane village near Alibaug in 1891. Mr. Karmarkar came from a humble background and his father was a farmer. Mr. Karmarkar loved making sculptures right from his childhood. He once made a sketch of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that caught the eye of Otto Rothfield, the district collector of Sasawane. Mr Rothfield, then got Mr. Karmarkar admitted to the prestigious Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai. Mr. Karmarkar flourished here and received the first rank upon completing his studies. He later gained fame for his realistic style of sculpting. His lifelike statues of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj became very popular. In 1964, Mr. Karmarkar was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India.