Badal Mahal Museum: Promoting Vagad Cultural Heritage and Ecotourism

Badal Mahal Museum exhibit © Lokesh Paliwal

Dungarpur is in the southwestern part of Rajasthan, India. The region is also known as Vagad, where inhabitants are mostly tribal communities. Along with great cultural diversity, Vagad is also known for its natural beauty and traditional craftsmanship like stone sculpture, wooden dolls, and toy making. Communities like Sompura and Tirgar from Dungarpur and nearby areas have learned craftsmanship from their ancestors. Stone sculpture and wooden crafts by Sompura and Tirgar artists, respectively, are perceived as intangible cultural heritage of the region. Old palaces and heritage buildings like Badal Mahal Museum (BMM) are living relics of traditional stone architecture and sculptures.

The Municipal Corporation of Dungarpur has transformed the BMM building into a unique cultural display to preserve and promote tribal and rural lifestyle, history, and crafts. The museum has been designed by heritage expert Monish Paliwal and intangible cultural heritage researchers Lokesh Paliwal and Dinesh Kothari.

An open stone sculpture gallery including Mother Nature Park showcases a Sompura stone sculpture and features traditional and modern subjects. The scenes of rural and tribal kitchens and shrines explore the simple lifestyle of rural communities. BMM has set up a royal lifestyle on the top floor of the building, which includes a collection of weaponry, vessels, turbans, and other articles.

Averaging a thousand visitors per month, BMM is helping to promote cultural heritage and ecotourism while providing exposure and a market for local arts and crafts, a significant contribution in a time when traditional heritage needs a larger role in public life.