Established in 1941, Sahitya Sansthan, a part of erstwhile Hindi Vidyapeeth (established in 1937) now known as J.R.N. (Deemed University) Udaipur with faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences, Master of Social Work, Medical Sciences, Agriculture, Sports, Lok Sikshan. Sahitya Sansthan, a research center for folk literature, Hindi, Sanskrit, History and Archaeology, is a unique concept in the university infrastructure in the Aravallis. It has immensely contributed by collecting ancient Rajasthani literature, editing manuscripts, surveying and excavating archaeological sites and training students for field archaeology. In fact it is the only university department for teaching and field training and research in Archaeology across Rajasthan. The institute has a very large collection of ancient manuscripts ranging from 14th to 19th century and thousands of archaeological objects ranging from Stone Age to pre modern time.
This treasure house of materials from archaeological excavations and surveys of various sites, places mainly in Indian subcontinent and assiduously collected manuscripts provides original source material for study and research. They have been collected from states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, U.P., M.P. Karnataka and Uttrakhand. The archaeological objects of the three phases of Human History such as Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age are housed in the museum. It has perhaps the largest collection of Stone Age and Harappan material of the Aravallis. The cultural material has have been classified on the basis of their technology, form, raw materials, and region. They mainly include variety of stone tools, pottery, beads, bone objects, metal objects including copper, iron, furnace of zinc, ores, shell objects, evidence of textile, rock art and so on. In this museum can be seen the objects obtained from excavation of the world’s first urbanization and the three phases of Indus civilization and they have been classified mainly on the basis of shape, size, colour, baking process and the utility of the earthen utensils that include big pots to storage jars, pitchers, bowls, dish-on-stand etc. Also stored have been terracotta objects, sand stone objects and copper objects.
There are also ornaments such as bangles, beads, etc. made of sand. Burnt grains, mainly wheat are also there. Also collected have been objects obtained from excavation at Balathal, Gilund, Ahar etc where existed Ahar Civilization well known for being the first to start agriculture and urbanization. These sites have ornaments, rings made with iron and copper that on display. Other objects include bullock carts made of clay and stone for children to play with and thin bangles made of ivory. In the museum can also be seen sling balls that are used to protect the crop from birds and ring well of historical period found at Balathal in 1990.
The period earlier than 1500 is called second urbanization. The objects like bricks used in buildings of Kushan, Gupta and later periods and the famous glasses for drinking wine used in Rome and Greece can be seen here. Besides, Torpedo jar from West Asia is a testimony of trade. One can also see some medieval material on display.
The materials used for smelting in 12th century at Zawar and other mines like furnaces and retorts are on display. The process of metal smelting has been described through illustrations. The display of zinc industry and a modern reconstruction of the zinc smelting furnace is perhaps the best attraction of the museum.
The museum can also boast of having huge collection of manuscripts and litho prints of works in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindi, Rajasthani, Brij and historical documents. Manuscripts housed here include Vedic Bhasya, Brahman Upnishad, Dharmshastra, Puran, Geeta, Charak Sastra, Sahitya Shastra, Tantra Mantra, Ayurved, Vyakaran and Saptachandika, Kamshastra, Jyotishastra, Puja Shakun and Rashifal. Other collections include copies of newspapers like Harijan, Janmangal, India, Najivan and Sajjan Kirti Sudhakar. Some old Dingal songs have also been published.
Books in Hindi, Rajasthani and Brijbhasa like Vaidhik, Bhagwat Puran, description of religious festivals, Shringar, Veer-ras, Rashifal, Karamfal, Shrikrishna Charitra, Daan, Sheel, Tapa, Bhawana Samwad, Chhand Alankar Varnan, Rashik Priye Ki Teeka, Ritu Varnan, Dhola-Maru Katha, Gyanopdesh, Bhoot Prêt Ki Chikitsa and Pooja are also available.
Thus, the institute in Udaipur is a treasure house of original sources of knowledge of various fields. To provide information about objects, illustrated literature has also been prepared. This shows where it was found, civilization it belongs to, its specialty etc. This is extremely useful for students, teachers, researchers and the public as it is not available in other museums of the state. The museum makes available the survey reports of excavation at 150 different sites that is extremely useful for researchers. Several students trained in archaeology and museology in this institute are working as experts in Archaeological Survey of India and other organizations. Yet another facility available here is that experts in archaeology are there to provide guidance and give specific information to the scholars. The institute offers courses in Archaeology at Master’s level.