The Museum of Rural life of Punjab in the campus of the Punjab Agricultural University is one of the must-sees for any tourist of Punjab. This museum displays the Punjabi Culture to its best. The PAU is perhaps, the only university in India to have a museum like this.
The museum assumes much importance since the rural Punjab is changing fast. The old traditions and customs, which were rampant till the last decade, are now losing their stand with the intervention of the technology. Women fetching water in gaggars (the bronze pot) from the village well are no more seen. Old bronze utensils are now antique pieces. Spinning is no more done. Women do not embroider phulkari. In the fields with the arrival of advanced technologies, the electric motors and pumps have replaced the Dhingli and Charsa by mechanical threshers. All such traditional items, which once lent charm to the Punjabi culture, are now nowhere to be seen. But the university museum preserves them all for those who still want to cherish the old, lovely memories as well as for those who are anxious to know about rural Punjab.
The whole credit for building up this museum goes to Dr. M.S. Randhawa, the first Vice Chancellor of this University. It was he who conceived the idea and initiated the project. He decided suitable design for the building and collected the old objects from small ancient villages and towns like Sultanpur Lodhi, Rahon, Goindwal, Zira and Sunam.
The museum is located at the back of College of Home Science of this University. The charges are minimal at Rs. 2/-. The museum is open on all working days of the university from 9 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The museum has a beautiful facade. It resembles the traditional houses of rural Punjab. It lies in a 4000 sq. Yards area. The museum looks splendid while also maintaining the simplicity of rural life. A 100-yard long path, flanked on both sides by water channels, leads to the finely carved doors of the museum.
Interiorly the museum is divided into various sections. The very first room contains a collection of Harappan pottery and coins. Next is an open kitchen, which includes all the necessary kitchen equipment like a big paraat, an old type of Chulha (the hearth), a peerhi etc. Besides there are two dummies of housewives - one carrying a gaggar (the bronze pot) on her head and another rolling the chappatis. In a room on the left are placed old bronze utensils for cooking, eating, drinking and milking the cattle.
The next room has other household equipments like grain storage bins, spinning wheel, other equipment for ginning, spinning, weaving etc. Besides this, there are pictures of village artisans by the artist Kehar Singh. A dummy of a lady making trouser string lies in the centre of this room.
The next room one enters in contains a beautiful dummy of a house. Wife is grinding grains with the hand mill. This room also contains some home equipments and baskets made from reeds and date leaves. Outside this room in the verandah is a kuppa (a huge oil container).
The next section contains musical instruments like Dholak (the drum), and other string instruments like Sitar, Sarangi, Tumba and Algoza. The next compartment has a cradle for the baby, a large cot, a walker and other toys. Items that were given in the dowry, the vanity boxes, and the mustard oil lamp are all there. There is a dummy of a housewife churning milk. Then there is a well with all necessary equipment for drawing water. Next lies a small closet with items involved in religious ceremonies.
After passing through another room containing decorations and harnesses, saddles and Jhuls for cattle, horses and camels, we come to a section that contains traditional agricultural implements.
The balcony built primarily for display of Phulkaris looks fabulous. There are dummies of 7-8 housewives embroiding the phulkari. There is another dummy of a bride sitting in a Dola just about to leave her parents home. Representation of Bhangra Dance of Punjab is done through toys. The typical dress of a Punjabi lad and lass are on display. The jewelry and the Punjabi Jutis (foot-wears) are also displayed in showcases.
This museum reveals the true picture of rural Punjab. All the visitors thus are much enthralled by its splendor.