- A sandalwood museum has been set up in Mysuru by the Karnataka state forest department.
- This is the first such museum in India dedicated to sandalwood.
- The museum spreads across a 20 x 10-metre space and is being gradually expanded.
- The oldest specimen is a 60-year old tree trunk.
- The Institute of Wood Science and Technology has helped in setting up the museum.
Special features of the museum
- It showcases 20 different types of sandalwood in the country.
- The museum also has various sandalwood products made by the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd, Karnataka State Arts and Crafts Emporium (Cauvery Emporium) and other private firms.
- The museum has a 3-D model of a tree trunk.
- The specimens at the museum contain seized items and those procured from Karnataka’s forests and other parts of the country.
- A special team has been constituted for round-the clock security.
- Karnataka minister ST Somashekar visiting the sandalwood museum set up at Aranya Bhavan.
Mysuru now has 7 Museums:
- Folklore Museum
- Natural History Museum
- Indira Gandhi Anthropology Museum
- Jayachamaraja Art Gallery
- NASI Kaveri Museum
- Mysore Royal History Museum
- SandalWood Museum
- It took two months to set up the museum.
- The location of the museum is crucial as Karnataka is known as the sandalwood state.
Purpose of the museum
The museum has been set up to:
- Create awareness among people about the tree and species,
- Raise a sense of conservation,
- Ensure proper protection and increase plantation.
- The museum also has information and research works on sandalwood.
- It is essentially a platform for visitors to learn more about sandalwood classification, sandalwood farming techniques and the many different types of sandalwood.
- Visitors will also be able to see posters with information about the growth of sandalwood, and how it can help prevent several diseases.
- Forest officials have said that over the years, the number of sandalwood trees being planted has come down.
- The state forest department aims to increase its cover through the museum.
- The forest department will help people procure sandalwood saplings from its various nurseries.
- The museum is planned to be moved to the Mysuru Palace premises
- This will help to generate more revenue, because the Mysuru palace sees a large number of tourists.
- Not much space is available for the museum at Aranya Bhavan, and the area cannot accommodate more visitors.
- After moving to the Mysuru palace premises, the museum will also be equipped with:
- an auditorium,
- a projector screen, and
- comfortable seating arrangements.
- Audio information related to sandalwood will also be given out to tourists.
- Santalum album.
- IUCN Vulnerable
- Native to southern India and southeast Asia.
- The oil is obtained by steam distillation of the wood and is used in perfumes, soaps, candles, incense, and folk medicines.
- Sandalwood trees have been cultivated since antiquity for their yellowish heartwood, which plays a major role in funeral ceremonies and religious rites.
- The trees are slow growing, usually taking about 30 years for the heartwood to reach an economically useful thickness.
- Karnataka, especially the forests under Mysuru division, was once known as ‘Srigandhada Nadu’ (Land of Sandalwood).
- But over the years, it lost this unique distinction with the fast depletion of sandalwood reserves.
- Indian sandalwood still commands high prices for its essential oil owing to its high alpha santalol content, but due to lack of sizable trees it is no longer used for fine woodworking as before.
Steps taken by the government to combat sandalwood depletion
- To promote sandalwood cultivation on private lands, the state Forest Department started distributing sandalwood saplings at subsidised costs.
- People were not very keen to take up sandalwood cultivation on a big scale for two reasons – safety issues and slow-growth of the tree (returns take time).
- On an average, 5,000 to 10,000 saplings raised at the sandalwood nursery at Mysuru are distributed every year.
- Saplings can be bought from the department for commercial cultivation.
- Barring ‘Srigandhada Kote’ (sandalwood depot), Mysuru and the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KDSL), trees on private land cannot be sold to others.
- Sandalwood supplied to the depot by farmers and others (grown in private lands) was categorized based on the quality and accordingly stored safely in the sandalwood depot.
- The stock is auctioned once in two years.
- The new museum at Mysuru will help to expand private cultivation, and establish a one-stop destination for all information on sandalwood and its farming.