It is hard to believe that the modest building tucked inside a small street off Nanjundapuram Road houses one of the most interesting museums in the city. Well-maintained, the Ancient Industrial Artefacts Museum is quite astonishing with it's collection of artefacts excavated in and around Coimbatore district. The gigantic burial urns are the first to grab one's attention. They were used to bury the dead along with a few of their belongings, according to Archaeological Officer P. Gouthamaputhiran. "The urns belong to the New Stone Age," he adds.

A dosaikkal and kuzhi paniyaram chatty from the Sangam period, stone slabs with ancient Tamil inscriptions excavated near Udumalpet, Roman coins excavated at Vellalur, punch marked coins, early Pandya coins etc, are some of the interesting exhibits. There is even jewellery from the past - shell bangle pieces, copper bangles, stone beads and so on, not to mention stone tools of the Old and New Stone Age.

Though lacking in maintenance, the Government Museum at the Nehru Stadium Complex is a must-see. With its extensive collection of tools and stone sculptures from the past, the museum gives a sneak peak into the lives of Kadar, Irula and Malasar tribal communities. Tools such as copper antennae swords, blowguns and hammers are displayed here.

"This is a multipurpose museum wherein you can find exhibits related to arts, science, numismatics, archaeology, anthropology and geology," says curator Murugavel.

Exquisite artefacts from Chettinadu such as nut crackers, lamps etc, antique world coins and palm leaf manuscripts are also among the objects displayed here.

The Government Museum has a separate chamber for sculptures. Here, you can find Saivam and Vainavam deities, hero stones and guardian deities.

The Gandhi Museum inside the campus of Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Siddha Hospital and Research Institute, De-addiction and Rehabilitation & Research Centre and Oral School for the Hearing Impaired, Varadarajauram, is yet another rare treat. Established in 1993, it is run by the Mahalingam Mariammal Mani Vizha Charitable Trust. The museum has over 60 photographs, taken during various stages of Gandhiji's life. "The Gandhi Museum was set up with an aim of taking Gandhiji closer to today's generation," explains Gandhian C.S. Ramakrishnan, the former secretary of the museum. The museum, consisting of two halls, has several historically significant pictures. If the Gandhi Museum in Madurai has bowls and other objects used by the Mahatma in his day-to-day life, the one here has models of the same. These include his sandals, wooden spoons, forks and a china clay bowl.

Looking like a building straight out of the pages of a Gothic novel, the Gass Forest Museum inside the Forest College campus on Cowley Brown Road is a treasure trove. Opened in 1915 by Lord Pentland, the museum is named after H. A. Gass, Coimbatore's former Conservator of Forests.

The museum's major attractions are trophy heads and stuffed animals – the intimidating stuffed gaur at the entrance is the first to greet visitors.

From jars of preserved reptiles to specimens of teak and wild sandalwood, the Gass Museum is a storehouse of all things wild and wonderful. Ornaments and firearms of jungle tribes, lac products, insect specimens, elephant, tiger and goat foetuses, etc, can be found here.

The Kasthuri Sreenivasan Trust Arts Gallery and Textile Museum on Avanashi Road is for the art lover.

The immaculate art gallery with paintings of Barbara Sreenivasan and contemporary artists, reproductions, bronze and terracotta sculptures is worth a visit.

The textile museum educates one about the history of textile technology.

Here, you can also learn of yarn and its features and of the various kinds of handloom fabrics. Depictions of the costumes of Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Akbar and that of hairstyles from the sculptures of Amaravati and Pattadakal can also be found here.

The G.D. Naidu Museum with its array of interesting engineering artefacts, inventions and collections of technocrat G.D. Naidu, provides a window to the world of technology over the years. With exhibits ranging from antique vehicles, bulky cameras and gramophones to gravity-operated coo-coo clocks, the G.D. Naidu Museum is fascinating.

Akila Kannadasan

Photos: K. Ananthan and M.Periyasamy