Friday, 11 November 2011

Don Bosco Museum of Indigenous Cultures in Shillong- Day 7

It was our last day in Shillong. I was eager to go home. But before leaving Meghalaya, we went to see Don Bosco Museum of Indigenous Cultures. We had again hired Guddu’s vehicle to reach Guwahati. Before heading towards Assam, Guddu took us to the museum at Mawlai. On the way, he told us that locals would not allow outsiders to drive there and it was difficult to earn money through other sources. He also informed us that being the Khasi dominated area, outsiders dare not come here after 6 pm and the scene is slowly changing.

Don Bosco Museum of Indigenous Cultures

The beautiful door

Entrance of the museum
The museum was inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi in 2010. It showcases the entire North East of India under one roof. The seven storeyed Museum building rises into Shillong’s skyline as a unique and landmark centre. The newly added skywalk provided us a 360° view of the beautiful Queen City of the North East. Equally attractive was the 28ftx25ft relief map of the North East in fibre glass.

Vij sitting on a chair made of elephant tusk

Justin, who welcomed us at the museum, helped us with the galleries inside. He was very humorous and spoke good English.

The seven-storeyed Museum offered us an unforgettable experience of the North East by means of over 14 aesthetically pleasing and informative galleries. All the galleries were provided with multimedia presentations.

The museum had an amazing collection of attire, accoutrements, weapons, ornamentation and rare photographs. Justin informed us that it was the largest cultural museum in the whole of Asia as far as indigenous cultures of the North East were concerned.

There were 14 well laid out galleries of international standard containing artefacts, paintings, fibre glass figures – all a feast to the eyes and a source of knowledge. The topmost gallery was where we relaxed and enjoyed watching some of the rare dances of the North East.

1. Pre-History Gallery: The Prehistory gallery explains the history of Man’s gradual evolution as expounded by a Physical Anthropologist.

2. Basketry Gallery: The village set-up so realistic of this gallery takes the visitor to the remotest corners of the Northeast.

3. Land and Peoples Gallery: This gallery provides a beautiful overview of the places and peoples of the Northeast: 32 large size photographs in colour, 26 in black and white and 18 life size fiberglass figures and 60 busts are an exciting presentation.

4. Musical Instruments Gallery: Here the eyes can feast on traditional musical instruments. If they come alive, they will mesmerize every visitor with their melodious music.

5. Fishing, Hunting and Gathering Gallery: The varieties of baskets used in fishing and the implements used in hunting and the types of containers used during harvesting are indeed astonishing.

6. Weapons Gallery: Weapons too are part of culture. Traditional weapons may not be used nowadays. But the gallery preserves them to recall the past and to remind us how people struggled to protect themselves and their dear ones.

7. Agricultural Gallery: This gallery illustrates various agricultural practices by means of three beautiful dioramas. A 255-year-old mighty tree in the middle of this gallery is indeed an attraction.

8. Traditional Technology Gallery: The dioramas displaying pottery, wine-making, basket-making, blacksmithy, goldsmithy, weaving, wood-carving, leather works and cane-making provide a quick tour of the Northeast with appropriate explanations.

9. Costumes and Ornaments Gallery: This is another feast to the eyes. The display of traditional ornaments, shawls and colourful tribal costumes literally take the visitor to the farthest areas of the Northeast.

10. Housing Pattern Gallery: This gallery provides a glimpse of the socio-economic situation of the people of N.E. India, including Sikkim.

11. Art Gallery: This gallery displays all the eight States by means of their ancient i artifacts and paintings.

12. Photo Gallery: It houses a large number of rare photos from the Northeast depicting the cultural life of the people almost a century ago.

13. Religion and Culture Gallery: Here 12 large panels guide the visitor through the major religious beliefs and cultures of the world.

14. Media and Culture Gallery: In this gallery one can sit back and enjoy some of the excellent dances of the Northeast. It is like going to all the States of the Northeast relaxing at DBCIC.

Visiting hours:
Summer: 9.30 am to 3.30 pm (Sunday: 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm)
Winter: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm (Sunday: 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm)

We left the Museum around 12 noon and travelled towards Guwahati. On the way, stopped at a different dhaba in Nangpoh and had some fried rice. We reached Guwahati airport little early and I bought some Assam Tea for a few friends back in Doha. We reached Kolkata airport around 10 pm and I did a small shopping for Bengali sweets at the airport. We had some nice dinner at a restaurant there.

We reached Doha on the next day at 7 am and it was a big relief! I was tired and still wondered if it was worth the spending, as it had cost around Rs 40,000 per person. Maybe it was a kind of break from the desert that we wanted, but coming from a region where we get to see greenery, rain and ghats, I didn’t feel anything special about the trip. Oh, yes, I got to see how filthy and overcrowded Kolkata is! The ghats, clouds, mist, trees, rain, waterfalls, hill stations, everything we have in Karnataka and fortunately, I have seen umpteen number of times. So if you don’t get to visit Meghalaya, no regrets, just head towards Kodagu J

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