Located right in the heart of the city near Banjara Hills, celebrating the aboriginals who lived on this very hill is the Nehru Centenary Tribal Museum Hyderabad.
Nehru Centenary Tribal Museum Hyderabad
It is dedicated to 35 tribes that inhabit in the state of Andhra Pradesh. And intends to showcase their culture and heritage through various displays and dioramas. Spread over three floors, the museum has a detailed information kiosk that gives you information about all the tribes in India. Adorning the walls inside and outside the museum are trademark white on red tribal motifs. On both sides of the entrance gate are tribal dances exhibited along with the pillars that represent the tribal deities and around whom the tribal people dance.
Chenchu Tribe Dioramas
On the ground floor of the museum, you go through Chenchu tribe’s dioramas. They try to showcase their conical huts, their honey collection technique, their hunting equipment. And techniques as they continue to be hunter-gatherers. Rest of the section here is a collection of photographs showcasing the differences between various tribes like – facial features, fabric designs, hut designs, deities, dances, and occupations. Then there are pictures that together showcase the similarities across tribes. In terms of activities of women and cultivation method called Podu where they keep clearing the jungle in small patches for agriculture. The other half of the hall focuses on the developmental activities being done by the government for the tribal communities.
Households of Various Tribes
The first floor has beautifully done households of various tribes. With a specialty of each highlighted like the Editing design of Savara tribe, circular hut with a conical roof of Chenchus, liquor making of Lambadas from Babool tree, garments made from Adda leaves by Porja tribe, soothsayers of Yerukala tribe, conical huts of Yanodis and masks of Naikpod tribe.
In between spaces they display common things like weekly markets, weighing measures, household equipment, and deities that sometimes happen to be ancestors as well. The second floor showcases musical instruments. I found Rim Zim made out of bamboo with grooves in it quite interesting. There are hunting and fishing equipment along with an array of traps, different for different catches like fish, rats, rabbits, and birds. There is agricultural equipment with a noise making bird scare followed by handicrafts in bell metal, wrought iron, and terracotta. I particularly liked a chappal or slipper made out of tree bark and bamboo strings. The displays end with a depiction of a burial scene.
Museum office houses a small library that you can access. Brochures are available but you need to purchase them. Besides the museum building, tribal hut shaped structures have been erected. Looks like with intent to sell tribal products, but they lie in an abandoned state as of now. There is also a small amphitheater that does not seem to have been used until now. Since there is no museum shop, you can ask the caretaker to show you items for sale. They will bring them out of a series of Steel Almirahs. There is supposed to be a tribal products shop as well. But it was closed when I visited the museum.
Well maintained displays
It is a small museum, with limited but well-maintained displays. Photography inside is strictly prohibited, and I wonder why? There is nothing that will get harmed with photography here. Instead, museum management can charge for cameras and have a steady revenue stream from it. A guided tour would make this place more interesting as a lot of things about tribal culture are not intuitive to the urban mind. I must thank Shankar Ji, the sculpture artist at the museum for giving me a guided tour of the museum. And the curator Dr. Satya for giving the background information on the tribes.
Recommend you read following travel blog on places to visit in Hyderabad.