Kunda Satyanarayana Kala Dhamam is its name but it is more popularly known as Surendrapuri or Mythological Awareness Center. It is a museum that celebrates the Hindu Mythology, its history, its epics, its Gods and Goddesses. Located roughly 40 kms from Hyderabad, it was founded by Sh Kunda Satyanarayana in memory of his son Surendra Babu. Once you have gone through this vast museum you wonder at the effort of one man who had the vision of bringing all the divine places and concepts of Indian Mythology at one place and that led him to build this unique museum. I am not aware of any other similar museum in India or anywhere else at least not at this scale.
The campus outside the museum has some giant figurines of Gods and Godddesses and a temple dedicated to Narsimha Swamy like the one at Yadgirigutta closeby. You enter the museum through a giant lion’s mouth walking through the horn like creations on both sides, this is just a small prelude of what is waiting for you inside. It is a world in itself with various scenes and innumerable temples and all you have to do is follow the arrows marked on the ground.
Ancient Indian mythology speaks of various Lokas i.e. various worlds that exist in the universe – the famous ones being swarglok and patallok – roughly translated heaven and hell. You see the depiction of various lokas like Brahmaloka, Vishnuloka, Sivaloka, Nagaloka, Indraloka, Yamaloka, Narakaloka, Patalaloka. At Nagloka you go inside underground with all kinds of Nagas depicted, at Vishnuloka – Vishnu is sleeping on the sarpent, at Indraloka – apsaras are dancing, at swargloka you go through the seven golden gates. It basically gives a visual version of what we have read about these places in scriptures. You get to see the scenes of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagwata Purana. You get to see all the Shakti Peethas and Jyotirlingas and char dhaams. There is a model re-creation of all the famous temples of India, though there is an obvious skew towards the South Indian temples and specially the temples located in Andhra.
My favorite parts of the museums were re-creation of Ganga at Haridwar and making people go through it. The creation of Chkravayuh that trapped Abhimanyu at Kurukshetra – I am not sure if it technically represents the formation but it re-creates the atmosphere for visitor as you go through it to reach where Abhimayu is stuck. The grand hall or Sabhgriha of Indraprashta or palace of illusions is a good attempt. I liked the swan shaped benches in their canteen that has a cow mechanically moving. You go through many giant animals or inside them but that is kind of childish and it feels like you are on a picnic. Giant depictions of Shiva getting the Ganga to earth and Mahishasurmardini
There is no photography allowed and the ticket price was Rs 300/- person last month. You need at least 2-3 hours to even walk though the place. At a leisurely place you can easily spend 6-7 hours there and there are cafetarias and small eateries at regular intervals for taking a break. I could not see any toilets but its possible that I missed them. There is no water available inside unless you purchase it that I think is a bit unfair since the ticket price is not small. Ironically most of the people I saw inside the museum were not the people whom you would generally think that they would spend 300 Rs to see a museum, but they were there – whole families enjoying each and every depiction there, that too on a week day. I also wish there was little more documentation for those who may not know the Hindu history and mythology.
For Hindus it can be a visual treat to see all religious places at one place and for others it can be a good visual introduction to the mythological maze of Sanatan Dharma.