Araku Tribal Museum is located in Araku, a small town in the valley surrounded by hills and many waterfalls, about 110 km’s from Visakhapatnam. Most museums are famous for what they showcase and the galleries they curate for visitors. What makes Araku Valley Tribal museum stand out in my mind is its very structure which is indigenous, absolutely native, right from the architecture, to the material used, to colors and contours. A double storeyed round building in red, with white motifs, painted on it. White window frames and white outlines standing on green lawns. One look and you know it represents the essence of an Indian community.
Tribal Museum at Araku
Tribal Musical Instruments, Masks, and Pottery
Step inside and it is like being in the world of local tribes. You see the setting of their homes with dioramas depicting day-to-day activities. There are scenes from the market and dances from various festivals. A small board explains the tribe and scene. The walls were full of masks and there was a scene depicting makeup being done for the drama. Musical instruments, clay pottery and walls paintings with local motifs keep the eyes engaged. For once I felt the museum is too crowded with lots of articles around. Soon realized that this is part of creating the ambiance and that is how the houses in Indian villages and tribes were. A ramp inside the building takes you to the next floor seamlessly. The design is an integral of this museum, something I have not seen very often in India.
Tribal Paintings at Araku Tribal Museum
Take a close look at the tribal paintings maintained at the museum. They revolve around the day to day life activities.
When we visited the Araku Tribal Museum, art installations were being prepared in its lawns and corridors. We saw the artisans working on the wrought iron, cutting thin iron sheets into various shapes and sizes. Then joining them by welding and creating stories in metal. In the corridors, there were artisans making clay tablets, delicately carving figurines on wet mud. I wandered around the area, sat and observed the artisans. Spoke to the supervisor who told me that they have come from Bengal to create these art installations, though the workers were all local.
Another structure stands in the form of an ornate hut with the pillared corridor around it. Beautifully painted walls are in black, red and yellow colors. It had some other ethnic scenes depicted with white and red being the prominent colors and longboats in the middle.
Open Space – Amphitheater, Waterbody
An amphitheater-like setting, along with space for tribal shops are being set up. If used properly, these can be instrumental in making it a living space through a bazaar and platform for performing arts.
A small water body has been created in one part of the campus with modern bright colored boats floating in it. The idea of boating is good and gels well with the concept of living cultural space. But the bright colors of the boats did not merge with rest of the ambiance. Probably a bit of design thinking would have helped. I would have preferred a storyteller to explain the culture depicted in the museum, along with local stories and highlights. Written documentation is disorienting, you feel I can always go to the Internet to read it. It is the people who make all the difference to a traveler’s experience.
It was a pleasant visit. I definitely recommend this museum to anyone visiting Visakhapatnam. A trip to the Araku Valley is a nice weekend getaway from Visakhapatnam.
Recommend you to read the following travel blog on places to visit in Araku Valley.