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Bhopal diaries- the tribal museum

So, a new phase starts in the life of GiftPiper. After months of deliberation and discussion, this summer we finally took the call to move our business from one city of lakes to another- i.e. from Bangalore to my home town, Bhopal.

Bhopal is how the erstwhile Bangalore used to be- beautiful, clean, scenic, with pretty lakes, gardens, and countless gulmohar trees lining streets and residential areas, adding to the beauty and color of the place. 

I grew up in this city and flew the nest more than 20 years ago, so coming back, I experience a mixed bag of emotions....

Frustration, at the scorching summer heat that enforces confinement for the better part of the day, combined with envy when my friends from Bangalore tell me it is raining and is as pleasant as it can get.

Chagrin, at the slower pace of the city as compared to Bangalore. It is truly a town for the retired.

A twinge of regret, when i compare the cosmopolitan culture of Bangalore to the North Indian, more conservative one over here.

Guilt, when my 7 year old complains that she misses our Bangalore apartment, friends, school and above all, her favorite cousin who happened to stay just 10 minutes away from us.

Overwhelming love, when i see my parents enjoying the company of my little one and revelling in her antics. And contentment, when i know that the circle of life brings me here, to be with them when they most need it.

Nostalgia, when i renew lasting friendships, and revive long forgotten ones from high school and college. More nostalgia, when i enjoy the delectable Bhopali cuisine- dum mutton, biryani, shami kebabs, samosas...

Mirth, when i hear long forgotten hindi/urdu words and phrases that one hears only in the cowbelt region of India. Words like moorchhit (unconscious), naaspeeta (shameless?), miyaan and khan (part of the old bhopal vocabulary).

While in this process of separating the chaff from the grain as far as my emotions are concerned, my sister who was visiting Bhopal for summer suggested that we visit the new Tribal Museum here.

I dug in my heels firmly, like the mule i am- 'Look how hot it is!' 'I have so much work at the office!' 'Why not go for a movie instead?'

Finally we landed up there, and boy, did i flip! Call it a backflip and somersault! 

Now, Bhopal is culturally very rich and already has some world class heritage sites and museums like the Bharat Bhavan, the Man Museum, and many more such. But this is something else altogether!

The museum, as the name suggests, is dedicated to various tribes of Central India. It is designed to enable tribal communities to represent themselves and express their own ideas and way of life to the world. The architecture itself of the Museum is inspired by tribal rhythms, materials, and aesthetics.  

Artisans from each tribe have been commissioned to create artworks and motifs that represent their culture, lifestyle, legends and beliefs. The effect is absolutely breathtaking.



The entry to the museum is stunning, with wooden carvings and gond art on the walls depicting various tribal legends, and gorgeous rattan pillars.

As soon as one crosses the threshold, one's breath is taken away yet again, by a rattan tree with beautiful bamboo hangings of flowers and butterflies. 



In every tribal enclosure, among other things one finds a model of the kind of house that the tribe lives in. For instance, the Bhil house has 2 main portions- Ohariwalla for storing food grain and cooking food, and Mewada Ghar, which is used for sleeping and storing other household articles.  The walls of the house have vibrant Pithora paintings, which invoke the horse God Pithora for prosperity, happiness and fertile lands.



In another tribal enclosure, a giant ceremonial bangle using iron and bell metal depicts motifs that are carved on typical wedding bangles gifted to brides in certain tribes like Bhareva, Ghadwa and Jhara.



The Chattisgarh enclosure showcases the courtyard of the Rajwar tribe, with lattices of bamboo and clay, and festive paintings showing different creatures, human figures in dancing postures etc. 



These are only a few of the many wonders here, and the museum requires multiple visits, if one has to truly appreciate each and every creation. 

Add to all these the auditorium which features performances every week in theatre, classical music and dance, the picturesque cafe and the beautiful nooks and corners in the garden, and I am enslaved completely by this magical place.



I know I will revisit this museum many times. And while driving back that day, and then again while writing this blog post, i experience one single, sweeping emotion- enormous pride in Bhopal!

Feels good to be home :)


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