If you need to familiarize yourself with the vast culture and tradition of all the north-eastern states of India, visit Shillong.
I was fortunate enough to have a chance to visit the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong (known as Don Bosco Centre of Indigenous Cultures) last month. Believe me, it isn’t just a museum… it’s more of an institution with its own publications, research wing, newsletter and a calendar full of cultural activities. The building entrance is grandiose and is shaped like a Naga house which in itself is a great attraction. Sprawled over seven floors depicting everything about the seven sisters of the North East, namely Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura, it is a feast to the eyes and a source of knowledge. With 17 well-laid out Galleries of international standard containing artefacts, paintings, fibreglass figures, earthernware, costumes and other details, the museum is an excellent experience of learning at a level that is interactive enough to grasp for both the young and the old.
Each floor is well-maintained with an automated energy-saving lighting system, official archivists to help you out with information and short films playing on each floor. The exhibits are beautifully maintained and well-explained so that people can take their time to read and explore the museum at their convenience.
The ground floor has 22 alcoves wherein colourfully dressed representatives welcome you. As you climb up there’s the Neighbours’ Gallery that showcases countries surrounding the North East of India — Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The photo gallery showcases some rare black and white photographs dating back to the 50’s and 60’s explaining the early life in the NE, the local life, tribal life and ancient lifestyles of the region.
As you move on, each exhibit gets more and more interesting. The Culture Gallery (Meghalaya) has a replica of the first wooden church that was destroyed by fire in 1936. Today in its place stands the very beautiful Mary Help of Christians Cathedral in Laitumkhrah.
The Pre-History Room gives you a clear picture of the evolution of man through different stages right from the stone era.