When traditional architecture is used, every house has a story to narrate about its occupants. The houses are designed by the occupants themselves and constructed by the masons. The architecture is true to local weather conditions, caters to the residents’ everyday activities, their occupations, hobbies and taste in local art. The modern utilitarian buildings are a poor compromise to the rich characters of age-old buildings. This is the narrative that rings true throughout Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village, a museum precinct where the buildings themselves are the exhibits. The museum is at Manipal near Udupi, Karnataka.
India is a country steeped in culture and heritage. It is no wonder that you find museums of all sizes strewn around the country. Some museums come in modest sizes, like Dr Abdul Kalam’s house at Rameshwaram and Lokmanya Tilak’s birthplace at Ratnagiri. But some others are humungous, with multiple buildings and wings. Examples are Salarjung museum in Hyderabad, National Museum in New Delhi, Indian Museum in Kolkata, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai, Baroda Museum at Vadodara, St Andrew’s Archaeological Site Museum in Old Goa and the biggest of them all, the Government Museum in Chennai.
Regardless of the size, one thing about them is common. All of them engage us through a single activity. Things of value are collected from around India and showcased in glass cases or pedestals. These valuable articles are collected either from archaeological sites or from affluent donors or committees who are avid collectors. A day at a typical museum is spent walking between aisles, studying the exhibits and reading the caption or the story attached to the exhibits. These museums are wonderful and each represents a slice of India’s culture. And yet…. !
There are some museums that are an exception. Something about them is extra special. They differentiate themselves from the hundreds of regular museums. In this post, we see 10 such museums around India. Continue reading