By Riddhi Tyagi
So I happened to visit this amazing museum while I was tripping around Goa this summer break, and I would definitely label it as a ‘must-see’ place!
Goa Chitra and Chakra- A moving experience is the efforts of a single person Victor Hugo Gomes being initiated for display at one of the coastal villages of Goa called Benaulim which is also now developing into a town.
If you go there without a guide you’d definitely not be able to locate it at once. This is because it is unlike any other museum; it is a quiet and secluded place and doesn’t boast of a high-rise and huge building.
Goa Chakra which is centered around the wheel is a part of Goa Chitra Museum, a huge hall dedicated to heritage carriages from various eras and states of India.
The impressive collection includes; temple chariots, camel carts, dowry chests on wheels, horse carts, gypsy caravans, a gig (a light, two-wheeled carriage drawn by one horse) and several horse-drawn carriages.
Goa Chitra, an ethnographical museum is an unusual museum with over 4,000 traditional farming implements, furniture, musical instruments and other objects sourced from across the state, in a much similar fashion as the rescued carts in Goa chakra.
The museum is located very adjacent to Victor Gomes’ house the collector and keeper of all the artefacts in the wonderland they call ‘Goa Chitra and Chakra.’ In fact, after you take a round of the museum you can even meet the family.
His desire to preserve the past is not merely restricted to the material culture and physical objects but also includes the way of life – what he calls “intangible culture”.
Every piece I laid my eyes on was reflective of the agrarian Goan culture, the influence of the Portuguese and the rustic rural feel that was created owing to the amusing farming equipment.
Victor Gomes has not only kept and maintained the ‘physical objects’ but has given an aura to the place that keeps the eras of the past alive.
We were also told of how curation of objects was done taking into consideration the people who possessed these items, and the sense of personal history as well as the community’s collective history that was tied to it.
Gomes’ concept of intangible heritage also refers to wisdom – the kind that comes only from intimate knowledge of the tools and the lifestyle that he wants to preserve.
As an example, our guide told us about the wheel traditionally used for farming in sandy terrain and desert areas, which are supposed to be smaller and thicker to suit the soil. The wheels used nowadays have a broad base and made from discarded rubber aircraft wheels with ball bearings because people are adopting North Indian practices mindlessly, failing to recognise the differences of the agricultural terrains between these regions.
Victor’s idea does not call for a complete turnaround from the past, nor is it a cynical idealised sense of history. His mission is for ‘us’, as a society, to move forward but at the same time utilize our past in the best way possible in shaping our future.
His mission is for people to realize what is around them and gather knowledge from the past which comes from instinct rather than books. He believes our past is just scattered around us waiting to be realized.
It is so inspiring and fulfilling to know how people are so compassionate in preserving their culture. Of how Victor Hugo single-handedly created and brought to life what the Archaeological Survey of India proudly proclaimed as one of the topmost Contemporary Museum in India.
Of how we must not just visit such places to plainly look around some objects but enjoy the experience we become a part of; our culture, our heritage, ‘US’.
Image Credits: Author and Google Images