'Ancient monuments and antiquities are one of the precious gifts passed on to us by our ancestors and thus, it not only happens to be our karma but it is also our dharma to keep them protected and conserved'.


Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), established in the year 1861, is the premier organization for the archaeological research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and preservation of monuments of national importance, maintenance of site museums and overall regulation of legislations related to antiquities and art treasures. For the administrative convenience the entire country is divided into twenty six Circles. Each Circle is headed by a Superintending Archaeologist. Further, for conducting specialized archaeological researches there are six Excavation Branches, Prehistory Branch, Building Survey Project, two temple Survey Projects, two Epigraphy Branches, Science Branch and Underwater Archaeology Wing in the Archaeological Survey of India.

Archaeological Survey of India regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (No. 24 of 1958) and the amendments thereof. This Act provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects. The Act along with Rules came into force with effect from 15 October 1959. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 has recently been amended as THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND REMAINS (AMENDMENT AND VALIDATION) ACT, 2010.

The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972 (No. 52 of 1972) was enacted for effective control over the moveable cultural property consisting of antiquities and art treasures. The Act is to regulate the export trade in antiquities and art treasures, to provide for the prevention of smuggling of and fraudulent dealings in, antiquities, to provide for the compulsory acquisition of antiquities and art treasures for preservation in public places and to provide for certain other matters connected therewith or incidental or ancillary thereto. This Act was also supplemented with The Antiquities and Art Treasure Rules 1973.


In Archaeological Survey of India, due to the various explorative investigations those were initiated since the times of its first Director General, Alexander Cunningham, vast quantity of antiquarian remains were collected. The creation of site museums had to wait until the arrival of Sir John Marshall, who initiated the founding of the local museums like Sarnath (1904), Agra (1906), Ajmer (1908), Delhi Fort (1909), Bijapur (1912), Nalanda (1917) and Sanchi (1919). The concept of site museums is “to keep the small and movable antiquities, recovered from the ancient sites, in close association with the remains to which they belong, so that they may be studied amid their natural surroundings and not lose focus by being transported”.

Archaeological Survey of India with its 46 site museums and is one of the leading organizations. Archaeological Site Museums covers the length and breadth of the country, i.e. Shri Surya Pahar (Goalpara, Assam) in east to Archaeological Museum Dholavira (Kutch, Gujarat) in west; Kangra Museum (Himachal Pradesh) in North to Mattanchery Palace Museum (Kochi, Kerala) and Fort Museum, Fort, St. George (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) in South.

Archaeological Survey of India although put efforts to provide latest available facilities in its museums in tune with the present state of art. However, Archaeological Survey of India is also of the view that the burden of modern technology may not distort the natural surroundings of the site/museums. Our aim is to unfold the glory of the past to the world instead of artificial creation of the past. The Archaeological Site Museum is much different from National or State Museums and the main objective is to educate, to inform, and to entertain the people about culture/setting of an archaeological site.

The Kapilavastu museum, under the jurisdiction of Lucknow Circle (http://asilucknowcircle.nic.in/) of the Archaeological Survey of India is one of the newest and ambitious museums. The museum is the integral constituent of archaeological site at Piprahawa and Ganwaria identified as Ancient Kapilavastu, the home town of Lord Buddha. Collection of the museum includes seals & sealings, objects of terracotta, metal, ivory, bone, etc. from 8th B.C.E. to 5th Century CE.

Presently, the museum is consisted of two galleries showing the history of Kapilavastu and the different aspects of the life of Lord Buddha.

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