I may be partial, but the Indra Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sanghralaya is one of my favourite spots in the city I call home. In Bhopal, this museum sprang out of nowhere, and impressed locals and tourists alike. Spread over 200 acres in Shamla Hills, Manav Sanghralaya features eight open-air exhibitions, 12 indoor galleries, an extensive audio-visual library and a research centre all focused on the tribes of India.
The best part? Each exhibition is life-like and guests can enter the houses and settlements and experience what it would be like living in them. The exhibits have been made with an active involvement of the tribes they represent, making the museum one of the most beautifully done places in the city. Because of its sheer size, driving around the museum is definitely recommended, but there are many stopovers that lead to the galleries and trails, so be careful to not miss any.
Driving through the winding path, with the forest on both sides, you will first notice the settlements from north-west. A little ahead are galleries and houses displaying tribal life in the southern states of India. There are several trails like the mythological trail and the traditional mythological trail that show how people from different communities worship and pray. After covering these trails, admire the replicas of houses found in the mountains of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Enter each house, and you will find authentic utensils and utilities from those regions.
Once you have explored the trails and huts, drive ahead for the museum building. The indoor museum continues in a similar manner. On exhibit are ornaments and artefacts such as weapons, music instruments and other objects that are used for rituals, fishing and hunting. In addition, there are rooms dedicated to household items, masks, textiles and textile technology.
As you exit the museum and walk towards the parking, a gated area marks the exhibition for tribal technologies across the country. They have machines used for iron welding, millstones, and traditional ovens on display. Watch out for he suspension bridge made of bamboo and wood, hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, which makes for a great photo op.
Beyond this point, vehicles are not allowed. Walk through the majestic dwaar and on the right you will find houses from the north-east, and hostels, houses, kitchens and so on. A one-room art gallery on a similar theme provides more information. Further up is the small canteen and the designated picnic areas.
The last leg of the museum, perched on top of the hill is the settlements from central and western India. Thatched huts made of mud and cow dung dominate this area. This exhibition is a personal favourite of mine, if not for the life-like village it portrays then for the view. From this vantage point, you overlook the Upper Lake, the lush hills and the vibrant capital city. The museum closes at around 5 pm, so cross the road and head over to the lake for a boating session—the best way to end the day, in my opinion. For more infromtaion visit igrms.gov.in
When to visit: Winter is an ideal time to visit. The chill in the air is balanced out by the warmth of the sun, making the whole experience a very pleasant one. In any other season, I would recommend either going in the morning or at around three in the afternoon, so that you can spend at least two to three hours here.