This wealth of medicinal plants as well as their information resources is diminishing day by day due to overexploitation and lack of interest in herbal medicine. Complete information on medicinal plants of the Western Ghats is not available in one place. The establishment of a museum dedicated to the medicinal plant wealth of Western Ghats is a step towards fulfilling this lacuna.
More than 710 photographs of 265 species of medicinal plants were collected during the process, of which 113 laminated color photographs are displayed in the museum. A total of 684 herbaria of 356 species were prepared. Illustrative scientific charts of various branches of traditional medicine like Ayurveda and Siddha (Indian systems of medicine), modern medicine, pharmacology, etc. are displayed.
A total of 460 crude drug samples are collected so far, of which 285 are dry preserved specimens and 175 are wet preserved specimen samples. Most of the collected information is stored in digital format. The photographs of the plants were stored electronically to develop â¬SDigital Image Libraryâ¬ý of the medicinal plants. All the herbaria are scanned and stored in the computer system, which is serving as Digital Herbaria. The museum has two multimedia kiosks providing touch screen information to visitors on medicinal plants of Western Ghats. Training programs and workshops are routinely conducted as a part of IEC activity. The people from various backgrounds and professions are regularly visiting the museum.
The museum is serving as the IEC centre for medicinal plants and traditional medicine system in North West Karnataka.
The Western Ghats of India covers an area of 1,60,000 sq. Km., which is among the ecologically richest regions and is considered as one of the eight 'hottest' biodiversity hotspots of the 34 identified biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Of the 15,000 plant species recorded so far, 4,000 are endemic to the region. Thus, there is a need to create awareness among the public about the importance of our traditional heritage of herbal healing and the importance of medicinal plants and their conservation. As one of such initiatives, a Herbal Garden for Medicinal Plants of the Western Ghats region has been established at NITM.
In all, 364 medicinal plants have been planted in the garden so far. The basic information about the plants is made available on spot. The IEC system is well developed and People belonging to various backgrounds (Ayurveda, traditional practice, pharmaceuticals, herbal research), professions (Teachers, Students, Researchers, Herbal healer), and age groups are visiting the garden. The brochures on Herbal Garden for Medicinal Plants of the Western Ghats region, RET Plants, and Herbarium Techniques were published as information materials. The garden is also helping in creating awareness among the visitors.