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Karnataka A Cultural Odyssey

Raj Bhavan, Karnataka


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First published 2013 Š 2013: Raj Bhavan, Karnataka & Raintree Media Pvt. Ltd

ISBN No. 978-81-906620-7-9

Printed at: Grafiprint (P) Ltd (division of WQ Judge Press) Bangalore

Published by Sandhya Mendonca on behalf of Raintree Media Pvt. Ltd TF-9, Third Floor, Business Point, Brigade Road, Bangalore - 560 025

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in Karnataka - A Cultural Odyssey. Neither Raintree Media nor Raj Bhavan, Karnataka take any responsibility for errors or omissions. All brands, products and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

All rights reserved: No part of this publication shall be reproduced, copied, transmitted, adapted or modified in any form or by any means (except as quotes in reviews/articles). This publication shall not be stored in whole or in part in any form in any retrieval system.


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

Contents GOVERNOR’S FOREWORD

5

Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION

6

Chapter 2 RAJ BHAVAN, KARNATAKA

14

Chapter 3 HERITAGE & ARCHITECTURE

22

Chapter 4 FOUNT OF FAITH

62

Chapter 5 FESTIVALS & CELEBRATIONS

96

Chapter 6 THE ARTS

116

Chapter 7 FLAVOURS OF KARNATAKA

174

Chapter 8 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (2010-2013)

182


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

H

istory is shaped by geography, and this is true of Karnataka. Located within the scenic south west of India, the state has had a largely peaceful life which in turn has allowed its people the space of mind that is crucial for the contemplation of philosophy and perfection of creativity. Here are spellbinding sculptures, mesmerising artists, and men and women of letters. From here sprang important gharanas of music and dance. Two significant movements of faith came out of this land, which has inspiring temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras. There are exotic regional produce and products, and tantalising food. The people rejoice in celebrating unique feasts throughout the year. All these are exquisitely presented within the pages of this book Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey. This is the book that we have specially commissioned for the Raj Bhavan to bring out the cultural grandeur of the entire state. An earlier book, The Raj Bhavan Karnataka Through the Ages, published in 2010, describes the evolution of the institution and showcases the Raj Bhavan. The purpose of this book is to enable visitors to Karnataka to embark on a cultural odyssey of this vast state, and to carry back memories of its rich heritage and vibrant society. The writing is based on meticulous research, and the concise and well-written articles are interspersed with beautiful photographs. I am sure this book will provide delightful and insightful reading about this progressive state.

Hans Raj Bhardwaj Governor of Karnataka


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 1

Introduction

Located in the south west of India, Karnataka presents a picture of a peaceful and pleasant land, far removed from bloodied battlegrounds. In truth, myriad histories unfold along the tapestry of the state. History tells of its own upheavals and tumultuous changes, with some echoes still reverberating. From rocky hills to fertile river plains, and the coast off the Arabian Sea, every inch of this state has been desired, conquered, sometimes forgotten, and later reclaimed. Vidhana Soudha is the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka. This architectural marvel follows the Neo-Dravidian style of architecture and has elements of Indo-Saracenic, Rajasthani Jharokha and Dravidian styles.


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INTRODUCTION

D

ifferent parts of what is today known as the state of Karnataka were ruled by various kings and chieftains. The earliest documented dynasty in the region was that of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan dynasty who is credited with unifying India under one rule. He extended his empire to the northern parts of the state and even spent his final years in the hills near rd Shravanabelagola after embracing Jainism in the 3 century BC. As the Mauryan Empire faded, the northern parts of the state came under the rule of the Kadambas of Banavasi while the southern parts were ruled by the Gangas. By 540 AD, the Chalukyas of Badami brought the whole of Karnataka under a single rule with the Gangas ruling as their subordinates. It was during this time that the fascinating structures of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal came up. The whole region flourished under them, as well as under the Rashtrakutas who overthrew the Chalukyan kings th and began ruling in the middle of the 8 century AD. This dynasty was soon overthrown by the Kalyani Chalukyas who established themselves in the north of the state while they installed their feudatories, the Hoysalas, in the south, who were instrumental in building the temples of Belur and Halebid. th

Towards the later part of the 14 century, Hoysala power waned as the Delhi Sultanate encroached further and further south. It took the delicate political manoeuvring and battle prowess of two men, Hakka and Bukka Sangama, to reclaim the land and lay the foundation for the massive Vijayanagara Empire. For the next two centuries, the region flourished under this empire. Hampi became the centre of trade and commerce, and European traders fresh off the boats were exposed for the first time to the wealth of India. It was around this time that a local chieftain, Kempe Gowda I, founded the city that is now known as Bengaluru (Bangalore). He and his successors ruled over the area for nearly a century before ceding it to the Bijapur sultans in 1638, who, in turn, gifted it as a personal jagir to Shahji Bhonsle, Shivaji’s father, inadvertently sowing the seeds of change.


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INTRODUCTION

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Meanwhile, the Bahmani kings ruled over the northern part of the state and were succeeded by the Bijapur Sultans. With the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire in the th late 16 century, the Mysore Wodeyars, chieftains under the empire, came into their own, while the Nayakas of Keladi ruled over the Malnad area. As for Bangalore, it was captured by the Mughal commander Khasim Khan and leased out to Chikkadevaraja, th a Wodeyar chieftain. Towards the latter part of the 18 century, the British had already begun establishing their rule and moved towards Karnataka. Hyder Ali, the commander-in-chief of the Wodeyar kings, successfully managed to stave off their attacks. His son, Tipu Sultan, continued in the same vein, and even expanded the territory with Srirangapatna as the base. In 1704, Chikkadevaraja died and Bangalore continued rudderless, until it was annexed by the father-son duo. Alongside, Tipu continued his fight with the British and met them in four major battles, ultimately succumbing in 1799 in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war. The British then installed Krishnaraja Wodeyar III as king with Mysore as the capital and a new chapter in Karnataka’s history began. After the victory over Tipu, the Mysore kingdom was split up over a period of time amongst the British allies, with parts of the region going to the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Marathas, the Madras Presidency and the Bombay Presidency; Mysore remained a separate principality with the Wodeyars given direct control, restoring their interrupted reign. Less than a decade later, the British solidified their presence by constructing a Cantonment at Bangalore. This indirect control and overlapping authority proved to be a tinderbox. Rebellion erupted in South Kanara district, and quickly spread to other parts of the state. The firefighters in the British administration appointed Sir Mark Cubbon to bring peace to this troubled outpost of theirs. One off his first acts was to move the capital to Bangalore in 1834. From then on, Bangalore began to take centre stage, experiencing rapid growth fuelled by immigrants from the Madras Presidency. It reshaped the cultural identity of the region, and asserted British power over the Deccan. The Rendition in 1881 ensured that the administrative powers were restored back to the Wodeyars. During this time, Mysore registered fantastic achievements in terms off education and social development, spearheaded by the likes of Sir M Visvesvaraya.


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

TIMELINE

INTRODUCTION

OF IMPORTANT DYNASTIES

345-540 AD:

Kadambas of Banavasi

350-1024:

Gangas of Talakad

540-753:

Chalukyas of Badami

753-973:

Rashtrakutas of Malkhed

973-1189:

Kalyani Chalukyas

1000-1346:

Hoysalas

1004-1114:

Cholas

1162-1184:

Kalachuri

1336-1646:

Vijayanagara Empire

1347-1527:

Bahmani Sultanate

1399-1947:

Mysore Wodeyars

1489-1686:

Adil Shahis of Bijapur

1500-1763:

Nayakas of Keladi

1487-1619:

Barid Shahis of Bidar

1637-1687:

Marathas

1761-1799:

Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan

1799-1947:

British

1956:

Mysore became a single state

1973:

State renamed Karnataka


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

THE RISE OF BANGALORE The name ‘Bangalore’ has different attributions; an inscription discovered in th Begur (on the outskirts of the city), dating back to the 9 century Ganga dynasty, refers to ‘Bengavalooru’ (a city of guards). The most popular legend th stems from the 12 century and refers to an old woman giving benda kalu (or boiled beans) to the Hoysala king, Veera Ballala II, who was lost in the area during a hunting spree. He is said to have referred to the place as ‘Bendakaluru’, which, with the passage of time, became Bengaluru and anglicised to Bangalore. The city has officially again reverted to Bengaluru, though in popular parlance it remains the same. Bangalore, which became the capital of the British Raj in Karnataka in 1834, prospered as a Cantonment and the city had two distinct parts. The pettah (fortified town) in the western part of the city was administered by the Mysore Maharaja, and in the eastern part, the Cantonment area was administered by the British Government through the Resident. Soon after Independence, all Kannada speaking districts came under Mysore state and continued to be called so till 1973 when it was renamed Karnataka, though Bangalore was the capital. The city went on to become one of the most academic and knowledge-intensive in the country. Some of the country’s best science and technology institutions are based here such as the Indian Institute of Science, Indian Space Research Organisation, Raman Research Centre and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. It is also the headquarters for various defence and other related organisations, including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under the Ministry of Defence, Defence Research Development Organisation, Aeronautical Development Establishment and Centre for Air Borne Systems. Bangalore is world famous as a hub of information technology, and within the country, is acknowledged as a state driven by intellectual power more than any other. Here, one can see reflections of the Hampi of Vijayanagara, the Badami of the Chalukyas, and the Mysore of the Wodeyars. It has become a melting pot of culture and language, and with its clement weather, is one of the most habitable cities in India.


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KARNATAKA'S FOCUS

ON

EDUCATION

K

arnataka has a well-deserved reputation as a centre for learning, with several prestigious schools and colleges that have been attracting students from different parts of the country and the world, especially for higher education.

The roots of the academic prowess of the state can be traced back to ancient times, when institutions like mutts (monasteries), agraharas (Brahmin quarters), shivapuris, brahmapuris, and ghatikasthanas (Vedic Schools) imparted knowledge. The seeds of modern education were sown with the establishment of the Free English School in Mysore in 1833 which was funded by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III at the advice of Colonel Fraser, who was the British Resident at that time. In 1858, the first Government High School was inaugurated in Bangalore, which was affiliated to the University of Madras. Then, in 1869, a second grade college was opened in Mangalore.

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The number of educational institutions slowly increased, and the status of some of the old institutions was upgraded; the Intermediate Maharaja College that was started in 1864 earned the position of a first grade college in 1894 with its own building. In 1916, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and Sir M Visvesvaraya, the then Dewan of Mysore, cemented all these efforts and established the first university in the Princely State of Mysore. Colleges to nurture engineering and medical talent were opened in 1917 and 1924 respectively. Over the years, further ground was broken in academics, with the erstwhile Mysore State boasting of 14 first grade colleges, 14 intermediate colleges and 14 professional colleges by 1956. Today, the Governor is the Chancellor of 47 government and private universities in the state. Karnataka is also home to some of the most esteemed centres of higher learning in the country: the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institute of Management, the Institute for Social and Economic Change and the National Law School of India University. Top: Graduates of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore


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INTRODUCTION

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

The University of Mysore is recognised as an ‘Institution of Excellence’ by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

The Indian Institute of Science is among the top 500 of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (2013).

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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 2

Raj Bhavan

The Raj Bhavan is set at one of the highest points of Bangalore, at 3031 feet above sea level. Hidden from view behind high walls, it reflects a calm serenity, seemingly secluded from the hustle and bustle of the teeming metropolis. Within the sprawling estate of 18 acres, a tropical feel abounds with the whitewashed architecture of the building being complemented by the various plants, shrubs and flowers in the grounds. The stately entrance of Raj Bhavan, Karnataka


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RAJ BHAVAN

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laborately wrought 70 feet wide iron gates lead up to this stately mansion fashioned in the colonial style. Swaying palm trees line the driveway and an expansive and lush garden abuts the main structure.

Sir Mark Cubbon, the Commissioner of the Mysore territories of the British from 1834 to 1861, bought this property and built the bungalow with an outhouse and stables from his personal funds during the period 1840 to 1842. Cubbon commenced his duties from the newly-constructed bungalow in 1843. In the years that followed, the Commissioner’s Bungalow became the centre of British power. After an illustrious career during which he earned the appreciation of his masters and the affection of the people, Cubbon resigned due to ill health and set sail to England, but died en route. After Cubbon’s demise, Lord Lewin Bentham Bowring (Chief Commissioner of Mysore State, 1862 to 1870) bought the property in 1862, on behalf of the Mysore government. In his memoirs, Lord Bowring wrote with characteristic British understatement: “[The Residency] was tolerably commodious for a bachelor but not remarkable. The best part was the out-offices, especially the stables which could hold fifty horses.” In 1881, when Queen Victoria formally transferred the administration to the Wodeyars, the post of Commissioner was abolished and a Resident reappointed. From 1888 till Independence, the Commissioner’s Bungalow served as the Residency. When India became independent from British colonial rule in 1947, the Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, handed over the administration to the elected representatives and was subsequently made the Raj Pramukh (Governor). The Maharaja preferred to stay in his own grand palaces in Mysore and Bangalore, and the Residency was used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries. In 1964, Wodeyar was appointed Governor of Madras State and General SM Srinagesh was appointed Governor of Karnataka state. After he moved in, the old Residency took on its new avatar as the Raj Bhavan.

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The foliage of Raj Bhavan’s gardens lends it a tropical feel.


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RAJ BHAVAN

ARCHITECTURE & INTERIORS

T

he Raj Bhavan is a remarkable place, serving as it does as a living record of the state’s history, not just of the colonial regime but also of Mysore state’s cultural and historical heritage. Its finely crafted windows, gleaming floors and heavy ornate doors have served as the backdrop for momentous decisions which shaped present-day Karnataka. Impressions and tastes, typical of the Europeans, are reflected in its high ceilings and deep verandahs to cater to the bright light and heat of the tropics, its antechambers, vestibules, reception halls, banquet halls and salons. The portico is large enough for elephants to walk through, and is supported by fluted Ionic columns. Hybrid styles of architecture and diverse native elements such as the Indo-Saracenic style were added over the years. Sophisticated décor, rich upholstery, and priceless antiques adorn its interiors. White is the dominant colour both inside and outside, radiating a serene aura. The Durbar Hall, or Nandi Hall, with its superb collection of Tanjore paintings, has been the location of swearing-in ceremonies, state dinners, and events like book releases, award ceremonies and cultural performances. A huge painting of the Dasara celebration in Mysore is the pièce de résistance. The central lounge is shaped like the nave of a church, with two intersecting sections in the form of a cross. The spectacular plaster of Paris ceiling is decorated with flowering patterns while the 18

The subtle grandeur of the dining hall

marble floor is a vibrant mix of geometric and floral patterns of speckled gray, black and red granite. The walls are adorned with photographs of past Governors, Prime Ministers and Presidents. At one corner stands a grand piano which has graced the Raj Bhavan from the time of Sir Mark Cubbon. The dining hall of the Raj Bhavan is a study in subtle grandeur. The teakwood panelled walls bear game trophies of a century ago, while the glass-fronted china cabinet displays gleaming silverware, crystal goblets and porcelain. The gleaming granite-and-marble flooring has polished brass separators running between the tiles. Above the rosewood sideboards are displayed several exquisite lithographs depicting the th landscape around Bangalore and Mysore from the 18 century. The Governor’s private residence is located in the original Residency wing, with three guest rooms for his private visitors. The corridors are


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RAJ BHAVAN

The décor of the guest rooms befits their distinguished occupants.

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

lined with reprints of rare frescoes from the Ajanta caves and artefacts of the Hoysalas, Gangas and the Vijayanagara Empire. The nineteen rooms of the Raj Bhavan are allotted to guests on preference by the Governor. The President, Prime Minister, Supreme Court Judges, and State and Central Ministers are entitled to stay here. The VIP rooms are named after famous rivers such as Bhagirathi, Mahanadi, Ghataprabha, Godavari, Pashchima Vahini, Bhima and Narmada, while the VVIP rooms are named after hills such as Brahmagiri, Chamundi and Biligiriranga. A broad flight of stairs leads to the Presidential suite and a part of the new wing that has been flawlessly integrated with the original building. The suite has a main hall elegantly furnished with rosewood desks and divans upholstered with silk, a dining room, an antechamber and two bedrooms. On her visit to India in 1961, Queen Elizabeth II stayed at the Raj Bhavan, as did her brother-in-law Antony Armstrong-Jones, the First Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret’s husband.

The lounge is shaped like the nave of a church.

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RAJ BHAVAN

Lush with leaves and foliage, the gardens present an endless vista of green.

GARDENS

T

he gardens of the Raj Bhavan are spread over an expanse of 16 acres. Most of the greenery here can be traced back to the legendary Lalbagh botanical garden (originally the Rose & Cypress Garden). This beloved green space of Bangalore owes its birth in 1760 to Hyder Ali who created it as a ‘Royal Pleasure Garden’. There are a number of exotic plants in the Raj Bhavan gardens that have had adventurous journeys from far-flung lands. These 20

include the New Caledonian Pine and Hoop Pine from Australia, the Cypress from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, the rare Primavera from the Cerrado in Brazil, the Royal Palms from Cuba and Florida, the Caribbean Raintree, and various Eucalyptus species from Australia. Two magnificent Banyan trees form canopies of cool shade within its precincts. There is also a well-grown Sampige tree, Karnataka’s contribution to the world of magnolias, and a stand of six grand Chir pine trees behind the new block. Flowers, shrubs and creepers from all over the world


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

Small Green Bee-Eater

Purple Sunbird

abound here, the most common and hardy of these being the Bougainvillea brought all the way from Brazil.

distinct Warblers - Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Greenish Leaf Warbler and Booted Warbler, that winter in India.

The formal garden in front of the portico of the Raj Bhavan provides a fitting backdrop to the central pathway flanked by a row of Royal Palms, presenting an uninterrupted vista of green. Along its periphery is an informal garden with fruit trees such as mango, sapota, banana, papaya, pear, fig and star fruit. A kitchen garden at the rear has alternate rows of cabbage and cauliflower.

The denizens of the Raj Bhavan can hear the dulcet tones of the Magpie-Robin in its breeding season and the liquid mellifluous notes of the Red-Whiskered Bulbul. Or it could be the monotonous call of the Barbet that seems to go on and on. This is a fruit-eating bird, but makes holes in old wood for its nests like a woodpecker does. There are two species in the area: the Small Green Barbet and the Coppersmith Barbet. With bright and bold red and yellow bands on it, the latter looks as if a Karnataka flag has been painted on it.

A newer addition is a fibre glass structure modelled on the Glass House in Lalbagh, which in turn is modelled on the Crystal Palace in London. This is the venue of many cultural events and is abundantly carpeted by hardy Buffalo grass. The gardens are dotted with a fine collection of exquisite sculptures from the temples of the different dynasties that ruled the state in the ancient past.

BIRDS The verdant setting of the Raj Bhavan attracts nearly 30 species of birds, including migratory birds like three

Crows, the large all-black Jungle Crow and the smaller, grey-necked House Crow, are as ubiquitous as the brown Common (Indian) Myna which sports a bright yellow bare skin patch in front of its eye. The smaller Jungle Myna has a tuft of feathers on its forehead and a bright orange beak. From the little Grey Owls to the Golden Oriole and Purple Sunbirds, from Small Green BeeEaters to the gregarious Rose Ringed Parakeets, the birds bring colour and cheer to the habitat.

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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 3

Heritage & Architecture Dravidian, Vesara and Islamic architectural styles of Karnataka dominate much of the architectural landscape of Karnataka, with other noteworthy influences being Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, and most recently Neo-Dravidian architecture. The major dynasties that ruled the state over various periods of history have each contributed unique styles of architecture. With the British, came the colonial influences such as those seen in the Bangalore Palace. In modern times, as the capital of the state became the abode of business and technology firms, the glint of glass and steel in sprawling corporate parks has become a familiar sight. The stone chariot outside Vittala Temple in Hampi


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HERITAGE & ARCHITECTURE

T

he geography of the state, which is of three broad types, has influenced the evolution of its architecture.

Karavali: The coastal strip, between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, comprises lowlands with moderate to high rainfall levels. The eponymous red Mangalore tile made from hard clay is one of this region’s greatest contributions to architecture. The architectural style, though similar to that of the Malnad region, contains significant paradigms of ecclesiastical architecture brought in by the Italian and Portuguese missionaries. Malnad: The Western Ghats, called Malnad in Karnataka, are a mountain range inland from the Arabian Sea, rising to an average height of about 900 m, and with moderate to high rainfall levels. Kuvempu’s home (now a museum) in Shimoga district is a classic example of the vernacular style of this region that is inspired by, and has adapted to, the overpowering natural phenomena found here, like high rainfall levels and strong winds. Bayalu Seeme: The Deccan Plateau comprises the main inland region of the state, which is drier and verging on the semi-arid. The humidity in these maidans (plains) never exceeds 50 percent and groundwater and freshwater lakes, along with numerous man-made tanks, are important sources of water. This region lies on a hard rocky surface and the use of this granite stone as a building material is widespread throughout Karnataka (for example, in most of the temple architecture). The rock-cut cave temples at Badami are an example of Chalukyan architecture.

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HERITAGE & ARCHITECTURE

THE MAURYAN

MONUMENTS

Eleven Ashoka edicts in north Karnataka along with a rock-cut cave and a structural shrine on the Chandragiri hill bear witness to the Mauryan rule in Karnataka. Chandragupta Maurya (340-298 BC), the founder of the Mauryan dynasty that unified India, spent his last days as a Jain monk. ( Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and its practitioners follow self-control and nonviolence.) A Jain basadi (temple) was later built here in his memory by his grandson Ashoka. There are several Jain basadis in this region.

ROCK-CUT

CAVES OF THE

CHALUKYAS

The Chalukyas are credited with bringing together the Aryan and Dravidian styles of architecture in what is known as the Vesara style. Their work mainly includes rockcut halls (caves) and structural temples. Chalukya cave temples are a fine balance of versatility and restraint as they clearly involved great labour in cutting into the large masses of rock, but the resulting halls were finished with great finesse. Their temple-building at Aihole has been called the ‘cradle of Indian temple architecture’ and is the earliest definition of the Karnataka Dravida tradition.

SCULPTURES

OF THE

HOYSALAS

The Hoysalas had their roots in Malnad and their style of architecture may be understood as an offshoot of the Chalukyas. It is characterised by very ornate sculptures. The modern interest in the Hoysalas is due to their patronage of art and architecture, rather than their military conquests. The brisk temple-building throughout the kingdom was

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

accomplished despite constant threats from the Pandyas to the south and the Seuna Yadavas to the north. Their architectural style shows distinct Dravidian influences, and is described as Karnataka Dravida (as opposed to the traditional Dravida) style, a unique architectural tradition. For the Hoysalas, God was truly in the details. The tower over the temple shrine (or vimana) is delicately finished with intricate carvings, showing attention to the ornate and elaborately detailed rather than to a tower form and height. The stellate design of the base of the shrine with its rhythmic projections and recesses is carried through the tower in an orderly succession of decorated tiers. Hoysala temple sculpture replicates this emphasis on delicacy and craftsmanship in its focus on depicting feminine beauty, grace and physique using soapstone (chloritic schist).

TEMPLES &

THE

VIJAYANAGARA EMPIRE

The Vijayanagara Empire was characterised by efficient administration and vigorous overseas trade. The empire’s patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form. Their temple architecture was a vibrant mix of Hoysala, Chalukyan, Pandyan and Chola styles. Granite became the predominant material used, along with soapstone. Their temple pillars of this period are characterised by the depiction of the yalis (mythological creatures). A large number of courtly and civic architectural gems represent the political might and artistic calibre of the empire. A significant aspect of Vijayanagara architecture is the cosmopolitanism of its cities, reflected in the presence of

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Kavimane, the ancestral home of state poet Kuvempu, is now a museum in Shimoga.

many secular structures bearing Islamic features. While political history concentrates on the ongoing conflict between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan Sultanates, the architectural record reflects a more harmonious interaction, with many arches, domes and vaults displaying Islamic influences.

ISLAMIC

ARCHITECTURE

The Islamic dynasties of the Bahmani Sultanate, Barid Shahi, Adil Shahi, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, who ruled th th the state between the 14 and 18 centuries AD, made significant contributions to the fields of medicine, arts, crafts and culture, architecture, trade and commerce and by creating a new landscape for the cities. Trade flourished during this time as the Muslim merchants were already well established along the country’s western coast. Arts like ivory inlay, lacquer work and Bidriware were introduced in Karnataka during the Bahmani reign. Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, who are perhaps the most well-

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known of the Muslim kings, are largely credited with recreating the landscapes of the cities by introducing new species of plants and planning the cities’ gardens. Tipu Sultan introduced the art of sericulture into Karnataka, laying the groundwork for a flourishing silk industry in the state. Today, the cities of Mysore, Channapatna and Ramanagara are leading silk producers in the state. Opportunities for the application of modern techniques to produce cloth, paper and sugar were also explored, and craftsmen and artisans from other countries were brought to the state to improve production. The rulers also established several centres of organised learning similar to madrasas and were responsible for many distinctive attributes that are now synonymous with painting, calligraphy, music and architecture. Some noteworthy monuments are the Khwaja Bande Nawaz dargah and Jama Masjid in Gulbarga, and the madrasa of Mahmud Gawan in Bidar. Influences can be seen in the Queen’s bath, horse and elephant stables and the watch towers in the temple complex of Hampi.


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INFLUENCE

The British influence is visible in some of the most important examples of colonial architecture such as the Bangalore Palace, Attara Kacheri, Bangalore Club, The Residency, Raj Bhavan, St. Mary’s basilica, Trinity church, St. Mark’s church, The Seshadri Iyer Memorial Library, Mayo Hall, residential buildings in the Cantonment area and in Whitefield, and the Minto Eye Hospital in Chamarajpet. British architecture brought an exquisitely laidback atmosphere to Bangalore’s secular cityscape. The Corinthian and Tuscan columns, the ornamentation details, the door and window designs all carry an air of sturdiness and majesty. But the most remarkable feature of these buildings is the massive spatial allocations they made for greenery. Large gardens and tree-lined avenues in the style of the royal English gardens added to Bangalore’s sobriquet as the ‘Garden City’. The Cubbon Park is one such contribution and is a precious lung space in the heart of the city.

CONTEMPORARY

DESIGN TRENDS

A revival of indigenous building methods and materials has been one of the most significant developments in modern times. The return to vernacular

The verdant Cubbon Park is home to the City Central Library.

idioms in a search for sustainability and for synthesising a new language for architecture has characterised much of post-independent Indian architecture. Of late, green technology as an aid for sustainable architecture has garnered much interest that is not completely undeserving. However, efforts have to be made towards building methods and architecture that are genuinely sustainable and socially equitable.

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BUILDINGS OF BANGALORE

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empe Gowda I laid the foundation for this multi-faceted city in the 16thcentury. Prior to this, the region had come under the purview of different dynasties. In Kempe Gowda’s wake came other rulers, including Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Wodeyars and the British. In the post-Independence era, Kengal Hanumanthaiah built the imposing Vidhana Soudha, the state legislature of Karnataka. Completed in 1956, this impressive structure was created in the Neo-Dravidian style, and has influences of Indo-Saracenic and Dravidian architecture. All these monuments and buildings serve as reminders of history in a city where the old is constantly engaged in battle with the new for space. Mayo Hall in Bangalore showcases British colonial architecture.

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The red-hued Attara Kacheri is a stunning vista and houses the High Court of Karnataka.

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BANGALORE PALACE Far from the countries of their origin, glimpses of Tudor and Gothic architecture can be seen in the Bangalore Palace, especially in the design of the windows, battlements and turrets. The scion of the royal family, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, now owns the edifice that is spread over an area of about 45,000 square feet. Within its impressive premises are intricate wood carvings and magnificent paintings, many by the renowned palace artist Ravi Varma. Some of the other important attractions include a gallery with a multitude of photographs of illustrious personalities from history, a chair to weigh jockeys, and a fountain and bench gifted by a Spanish king. The elaborate interiors of the Bangalore Palace

The Bangalore Palace draws influences from Tudor and Gothic architecture.

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TIPU’S SUMMER PALACE, BANGALORE The summer palace of Tipu Sultan was completed in the year 1791 and more than two centuries later, it is still wellregarded for its historical and architectural worth. Some of the frescoes have faded over time, but the other decorative work in the palace, as well as the elegant design of the pillars and the arches, still mesmerise. The rooms in the ground floor have now been converted into a museum which features some interesting artefacts from Tipu’s reign.

The ornate pillars of Tipu’s Summer Palace

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The Gumbaz has historic and aesthetic appeal.

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sea’. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, the palace features some spectacular murals depicting Tipu’s battles with the British. Daria Daulat Bagh also houses a museum, the most famous exhibit of which is the oil painting Storming of Srirangapatnam by Sir Robert Ker Porter, which was painted in 1800 and depicts Tipu’s final war with the British which led to the end of his reign.

SRIRANGAPATNA

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ituated 128 km from Bangalore, Srirangapatna gets its name from the famous Ranganathaswamy temple, which is an important centre for devotees of Lord Vishnu in South India. The island town played a significant role in the region, as it came under the purview of the kings of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 15thcentury, and the Mysore rulers. The town was also the capital of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the 18thcentury and consequently, a number of Indo-Islamic monuments were built during this time. As the remnants of all their reigns, the monuments of Srirangapatna capture the essence of a bygone era.

DARIA DAULAT BAGH In the midst of a sprawling lush green garden is Tipu’s summer palace, Daria Daulat Bagh which means ‘wealth of the

GUMBAZ The Gumbaz, located at the end of Srirangapatna town, is the mausoleum housing the interred remains of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and his mother Fathima Begum. Apart from its historic significance, the Gumbaz’s aesthetic appeal lies in its carved granite ceilings and walls, and large, well-shaped dome. Beautifully carved ebony doors inlaid with ivory, and carved stone windows with fine artwork add to the beauty of the building. The walls are adorned with lacquered representations of Tipu’s famous tiger stripes.

SRI RANGANATHASWAMY

TEMPLE

For centuries, the Ranganathaswamy temple has attracted devotees, of whom many were royalty. The Vijayanagara kings, the Hoysala rulers, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Mysore Wodeyars have been some of the illustrious patrons of the temple over the ages. The temple worships Lord Vishnu as Ranganatha, with the idol reclining on a bed of the serpent Adishesha. The structure is considered an excellent blend of the Hoysala and Vijayanagara styles of architecture, and is adorned with beautiful decorative work. During festivals, its grandeur is amplified with the lighting of hundreds of oil lamps. 33


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The Chennakesava temple depicts Hoysala craftsmanship.

CHENNAKESAVA

SOMANATHAPURA

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small village that is about 120 km from Bangalore, Somanathapura is named after its founder, Soma, who was commander-in-chief of the Hoysala army during the reign of Narasimha III (1254-1291 AD). He embarked on a mission of creating temples that arouse awe centuries later. 34

TEMPLE

Built in 1268 AD, this magnificent structure is dedicated to the ‘handsome Krishna or Vishnu’ and is a testament to the outstanding craftsmanship of the Hoysala architects like Mallitamma. This is evident even before entering the temple, when the viewer sees the entire edifice that is decorated with carvings and sculptures. Some of the motifs that can be easily discerned are elephants, horse-riders, swans and vignettes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavat Purana. The ornate artistry continues on the pillars and the ceiling inside, where the shrine has three sanctums dedicated to the Lords Kesava, Venugopala and Janardhana.


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The distinctive gopuram of the Chamundeshwari temple

MYSORE

T

he architecture of Mysore offers glimpses of an era when royalty held sway. Situated 146 km from Bangalore, the city was the seat of the Wodeyar royal family which ruled the Mysore kingdom from 1399 to 1947. It is a living testimony of their patronage of art and culture.

CHAMUNDESHWARI

TEMPLE

The Chamundeshwari temple assumed the stature and the size it enjoys today, thanks to the patronage of the Wodeyars, who had great belief in the power of the deity, Chamundi or Durga. Built in the Dravidian style of South India, one of the distinct features of the temple is the gopuram (or tower at the entrance) that is embellished with elaborate carvings. Along the way is a fearsome statue of Mahishasura, who was killed by the Goddess. The fierce and colourful statue of Mahishasura

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THE AMBA VILAS PALACE The glorious Amba Vilas Palace is one of India’s most famous tourist attractions. This spectacular edifice in its current glory was commissioned in 1897 and was completed in 1912 by British architect Henry Irwin. Predominantly styled in the Indo-Saracenic mode, the building also incorporates a blend of Gothic, Hindu, Islamic and Rajput styles of architecture. An impressive sculpture of Gajalakshmi, Goddess of wealth, prosperity and fortune, stands above the central arch, flanked by elephants. Within the palace, the different chambers are a showcase for the bounty of the kings; for instance, the Ambavilasa or diwan-e-khas boasts of the finest decorative work from its ceiling made of stained glass, right down to the pietra dura mosaic work of its flooring. Both divinity and royalty are given ample space in this complex. Twelve Hindu temples are housed here; the th oldest dates back to the 14 century and the most recent to 1953. Some of the principal ones are the Someshwara temple, the Lakshmiramana temple and the Shwetha Varahaswamy temple. Other edifices in the city that bear the regal stamp include the royal mansions, the Jaganmohan Palace, the Rajendra Vilas Palace, the Lokaranjan Mahal, the Lalitha Mahal and the Vasantha Mahal. All of these, along with a plethora of other heritage buildings, complete the picture of the past in Mysore. 36

The Amba Vilas Palace is a harmony of influences.


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CHITRADURGA

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ocated in central Karnataka, about 200 km from Bangalore, Chitradurga nestles in the valley of the river Vedavathi. Besides the natural beauty of the rocks and boulders seen in the region, the man-made creations, particularly the seven-walled fort, offer interesting notes from history.

CHITRADURGA KOTE A magnificent structure of stone spread over 1,500 acres, the seven-walled fort of Chitradurga is called Chitradurga Kote (kote is the Kannada word for fort). Some of its other sobriquets stem from its features and tenacity: ‘Kallina Kote’ means stone fortress, ‘Yelusuttina Kote’ refers to the seven walls of the fort, and the name ‘Ukkina Kote’, meaning fort of steel, is an ode to its having withstood numerous attacks over centuries. th

th

The fort was built in stages between the 10 and 18 centuries by leaders of the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, and the Nayakas. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are credited with its further expansion and fortification. The seven concentric fortification walls of the fort enclose the seven hills of the Chinmuladri range. The main entrance boasts engravings of the seven-hooded cobra Sheshnag, the twin headed bird Gandaberunda, the royal swan Rajahamsa, and lotus flowers. The design of the fort included interconnecting water tanks for rainwater harvesting, temples which pay homage to different deities, 38

gateways, rear entrances, special entry points, a palace and secret entrances. Beesuva Kallu, the Onake Obavvana Kindi, Thuppada Kola Betta, Hidimbagiri, Zadaa (flag) Battery, Kahale (trumpet) Battery, Lal (red) Battery and Nellikai (gooseberry) Battery are sites and military installations that offer insights into the period.

TEMPLES There are eighteen temples within the fort, with one dedicated to the demon Hidimbeshwara, who was slain by Bhima, the second Pandava brother in the epic Mahabharata. A tooth, supposedly of the demon, is displayed in the temple, along with a large cylinder with iron plates that is said to have been Bhima’s drum. Other noteworthy places of worship include the Banashankari temple, which is located in a cave and where rituals are still performed, and the Ekanatheshwari temple, th which was built in the 15 century and features a deepastambha (pillar with the lamp) and an arch to hang a swing from during festive occasions.

AKKA – THANGI HONDA Akka-Thangi Honda (meaning lake of sisters) was named after the two wives of Madakari Nayaka V, the last ruler of Chitradurga. Legend goes that the wives jumped into the lake during the siege of Chitradurga to avoid capture by Hyder Ali’s troops. The most unusual aspect of the Honda is that its water never dries up, even during the scorching Indian summer. According to historians, with streams and rivulets flowing down from the Chinmuladri Hills nearby, water bodies were built to take advantage of rainwater harvesting.


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OBAVVANA KINDI Obavvana Kindi is a secret entrance to the Chitradurga fort, named after a brave Beda woman Obavva whose husband Kalanayaka served in the army of Madakari Nayaka. She was on guard in her husband’s place when Hyder Ali’s soldiers attempted to breach the fort through the crevice. Showing ingenuity and courage, she killed the first soldier of the enemy with an onake (a wooden stick used to pound rice), and systematically killed those who followed him. Obavva managed to hold off the enemy till her husband returned and sounded the alarm. Though both she and her husband were slain in the ensuing battle, her name has become synonymous with valour.

Obavvana Kindi is a secret entrance to the Chitradurga Fort.

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BELUR-HALEBID

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he twin archeological towns of Belur and Halebid, often considered one destination, are located in Hassan district in south Karnataka, 220 km from Bangalore. Belur was the capital of the early Hoysala empire (1026 -1343 AD); the capital was shifted to Halebid in 1116 AD. The towns possess unique characteristics of the South Indian style of architecture.

Formerly known as Velapuri, Belur is located 16 km from Halebid, on the banks of the Yagachi river. It is often referred to as th ‘Dakshin Varanasi’ (or the Banaras of south India), for its artistic and majestic temples. Built during the early 12 century, these temples are famous for figures of dancers known as madanikas (celestial nymphs). Carvings with scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and even from the Puranas and Upanishads can be seen here. The main attraction is the Chennakesava (handsome Krishna or Vishnu) temple complex, by the side of which is the Kappe Chennigaraya temple, built by the Hoysala queen Shantala. Halebid (meaning old city), is located around 27 km from Hassan. It was known in its early days as Dwarasamudra, or gateway th to the seas, and was the capital of the Hoysala dynasty. This 12 century capital flourished for over 150 years. Its downfall was th brought about by the army of Malik Kafur in the early 14 century and later by the Bahmani Sultans. It is regarded as the finest example of Hoysala architecture, exemplified by the Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara temples.

The temples of Belur and Halebid, steeped in Hindu mythology, were designed by the renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya, popularly recognised by the title of Amarashilpi. The story goes that his son found the main idol of Lord Vishnu to be faulty and with a frog inside it. This disturbed the father so much that he cut off his own right hand. The temple is now known as the Kappe Chennigaraya temple, ‘kappe’ meaning frog in Kannada. An artistic detail at the Chennakesava Temple, Belur

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The Hoysaleshwara temple of Halebid is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

CHENNAKESAVA

TEMPLE

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onstruction of this temple was started by King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD, in commemoration of his victory over the Cholas in Talakad. It took 103 years to build and was completed by his grandson Veera Ballala II. Light green soapstone was used to create the temple complex. The exteriors of the temple have a variety of intricate carvings with sculptures and friezes and the interiors are adorned with exquisite panels of elephants, lions, horses and scenes from Indian mythology. The sensuous dancers, Darpana Sundari (lady with a mirror) and madanikas

epitomise the aesthetic values of the time. In recognition of their work, the signatures of the artists are engraved at the foot of their creations. Two of these sculptors were the father-and-son duo Dasoja and Chavana.

HOYSALESHWARA

TEMPLE

The colossal Hoysaleshwara temple of Halebid is dedicated th to Lord Shiva. Built in the 12 century by Ketamala under the reign of the Hoysala ruler Vishnuvardhana, the temple enshrines Hoysaleshwara and Shantaleshwara, his queen. A fascinating aspect of the temple is the varied artistry of the 240 sculptures, a few of which are of Lord Ganesha. The Garuda pillar symbolises the elite bodyguards of the royals. 41


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The Lotus Mahal was a private space for royal women.

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LOTUS MAHAL The Lotus Mahal of the Vijayanagara Empire, according to historians, was a place for the women of the royal family to socialise, away from prying eyes. The building also escaped the siege that the other monuments from the era had to suffer, though some of the sculptures have seen some mutilation over the years. The structure of the mahal (meaning palace in Hindi), as well as the carvings on the archways, resemble the petals of the lotus flower. It is also referred to as the Kamal Mahal (kamal is the Hindi word for lotus) and Chitrangani Mahal.

HAMPI

L

From the outside, the Lotus Mahal is considered a blend of styles: the base of the structure bears a resemblance to that of many Hindu temples, while the arches and pillars hark of Islamic inspiration. Unlike the other monuments in the area which were built from granite and stone, lime mortar and brick were used in the construction of the Lotus Mahal.

This village in North Karnataka is about 300 km away from Bangalore. Once called Hampe, it is located within the ruins of Vijayanagar, the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire when it was at the pinnacle of its reign th th between the 14 and 16 centuries. However, it isn’t just the architectural relics of Vijayanagar that Hampi is known for; the Virupaksha temple is said to even pre-date the Hindu empire and draws a heavy throng of pilgrims during its annual festivities. Today, these markers of the past are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

ELEPHANT

ike the sacred Tungabhadra river that borders it on one side, Hampi has a magic about it that has endured the passage of time.

STABLES

Situated next to the Lotus Mahal, the elephant stables are among the few structures from the Vijayanagara Empire that have survived the ravages of time without a very heavy toll. Intended as a home for royal and temple elephants, the stable complex is a large building with eleven dome-shaped chambers. The decorations on the central dome and its size suggest that the chamber was also used by musicians and troupes to practise with the elephants prior to ceremonies and processions. While the tower in the central hall of the ancient monument and its craftsmanship resemble that of a temple, the remaining ten domes and their alternating patterns seem to glean inspiration from the Islamic style of architecture. 43


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HAZARA RAMA

TEMPLE

One of the most distinguishing facets of this 15thcentury temple, that was the shrine of the royals, is its elaborate artwork. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple gets its name Hazara Rama (hazara means thousand) from the carvings on the panels that are a tribute to his avatar of Lord Rama in the epic Ramayana. The narrative depicts important events from the epic. Elephants, horses, dancing girls and armed soldiers can also be seen in some of the patterns at other places in the temple. The craftsmanship of the architects extended to the intricate design of the pillars in the ardha mantapa (antechamber at the entrance), considerably elevating the beauty of the temple.

MAHANAVAMI

DIBBA

This stone structure is believed to have been constructed by King Krishnadevaraya to commemorate his conquest of Udaygiri in Orissa in 1512, and hence is also often called the ‘House of Victory’. One of the tallest structures in the royal enclosure, its form consists of three solid squares, added on at different times. The view from the top was fit for a king, and befittingly, it was from there that he reviewed his armies and enjoyed entertainment like sports, aquatic contests, animal shows and the grand Mahanavami celebrations. The sides of the regal platform are decorated with beautiful carvings that depict royal ceremonies, city life and foreign envoys who came visiting the erstwhile kingdom.

QUEEN’S BATH When the burden of royal duties became too much, this structure in the royal enclosure provided a space for the king and queen to unwind. Intended as an aquatic leisure area, The Elephant Stable complex

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Ugra Narasimha, the half-man, half-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu

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The Virupaksha temple is considered one of the most sacred.

and protected from intruders, the Queen’s Bath is a rectangular building with long verandahs and a six-foot deep, square tank in the centre. Back in the days of regal splendour, it can be imagined that the tank was filled with flowers and fragrances to pamper the royals. The balconies of the verandah face and project onto the pond in the centre; they accommodate windows, and are supported by brackets tipped with lotus bud carvings. The architecture of the complex is in the Indo-Saracenic mode and indicates the Islamic influence on the architects of Vijayanagara.

UGRA NARASIMHA At 6.7 m, the statue of Ugra Narasimha (ugra meaning angry), or Lakshmi Narasimha as he is also known, stands tall as the largest in Hampi. More than the size itself, it is

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the artistry of the Vijayanagara Empire that brings out the terrifying power of this half-man, half-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu. Carved out of a monolith block of granite, the figure of Narasimha is endowed with huge bulging eyes, intimidating teeth, and a broad chest. He sits cross-legged atop the coils of a seven-headed snake called Shesha, whose heads rise above his own to protect him with a massive hood. The hand of Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, can be seen resting on his back, almost as if in an embrace; the rest of her statue which was originally perched on Narasimha’s lap is no longer there as it was damaged in the marauding of the region, perhaps around 1646 AD.

VIRUPAKSHA

TEMPLE

The Virupaksha temple of Hampi pays homage to Lord


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Shiva, who is locally known as Virupaksha, the consort of th the goddess Pampa. A tiny shrine in the 7 century, the temple has grown into a large complex to which devotees flock to even today. Much of the credit for its splendour goes to the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire, especially King Krishnadevaraya who as a patron of the temple, commissioned the building of a central pillar with ornate carvings, a gateway tower as well as a pillared hall. Besides these, the structure also has a sanctum sanctorum, three ante chambers, smaller shrines, and a courtyard. In stark contrast to the ruins of the past all around it, the Virupaksha temple continues to play an active role even in the present day. The temple priests celebrate the betrothal of the divine couple, Virupaksha and Pampa, in December, and an annual chariot festival sets off the wedding celebrations in March-April.

VITTALA TEMPLE th

Constructed in the 15 century, the Vittala temple pays tribute to a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, and is considered a showpiece of architectural elegance and brilliance. Outside the main temple structure stands the stone chariot, which has now become the signature symbol of Hampi. Drawn by two elephants, the chariot stands on a rectangular platform and the base is carved with scenes of mythological battles. The four wheels are decorated with concentric floral motifs. Inside the temple, the pillars are adorned with intricately chiselled sculptures. The pillars in the outer periphery of the mahamantapa (or great hall) have short and slender pilasters that are said to produce a musical sound when tapped. However, as a World Heritage Monument protected by UNESCO, this practice is a thing of the past as well. Pillars and sculptures heighten the aesthetic appeal of the Vittala temple.

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Pattadakal panorama

GALAGANATHA

SHRINE th

PATTADAKAL

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he Chalukya dynasty was known for its impressive architecture which is showcased in its royal commemorative site, Pattadakal. The temples built during their reign depict the different styles of construction th craftsmanship that were extant during the 7 and th 8 centuries: while some of the temples are modelled on the classic Dravidian style of South India, others draw influences from the Nagara style of North India. Even as ruins, the monuments in this small village in Bagalkot district, that is about 500 km from Bangalore, portray the rich heritage of Karnataka and are included in the list of World Heritage Sites protected by UNESCO. 48

Most of the temples in Pattadakal were built in the 7 century, but the Galaganatha shrine was constructed almost a century later in the Rekha Nagara Prasada style of architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva with a depiction of him in the act of killing the demon Andhakasura, one of the temple’s most arresting features is its sikhara (tower) with the amalaka (circular ridged stone) and kalasha (metal pot) design at the peak.

VIRUPAKSHA

TEMPLE

Regarded as one of the most beautiful historical places of worship in Pattadakal, the Virupaksha temple was built by queen Lokamahadevi in 740 AD, ostensibly as a commemoration of her husband’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram. Along with the king’s achievements, inscriptions at the temple also honour its architects. Indeed, the quality of craftsmanship on display within the temple is


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A panoramic view of the ruins of Pattadakal

The Jain temple was built by the Rashtrakuta kings.

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exemplary, with beautiful carvings and sculptures that celebrate stories from Hindu epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Virupaksha temple complex also houses a Nandi mantapa (pillared outdoor hall) to the east of the temple.

JAIN

TEMPLE

While it was built in the Dravidian style of architecture like some of the other shrines at Pattadakal, the Jain temple stands apart from them as the only one not dedicated to a Hindu god. It was built by Rashtrakuta kings, possibly in th the 9 century. Captured for posterity are partially finished bas-relief figures of purna-ghata (full vessel), nidhis (treasures), dancers and vyalas (mythological animals, usually leonine and bearing the head of a tiger, elephant or bird). Other decorative work within the temple includes images of huge elephants being ridden and the remarkable makara torana (crocodile arch).

JAMBULINGA

TEMPLE th

Outside the Jambulinga temple that was built in the 7 century, historians point out the uniqueness of the sukhanasa (vestibule) that projects from the sikhara (tower) as an instance of a time when architects tried some experimentation. To the layman’s eye, it is the image on the tower, that of Shiva in his manifestation of Natesa, with Parvathi and Nandi by his side, that registers first. Inside the temple, the craftsmen moved beyond the Gods for inspiration, carving swans, dwarves and attendants at different places.

SIDDESHWARA

TEMPLE

Depictions of the divine trinity – Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu - can be observed th at the Siddeshwara or Kadasiddeshwara temple that was built in the 7 century. Shiva, particularly, is captured in more than one manifestation, including Ardhanariswara (a combined form of Shiva and his consort Parvathi) and Harihara (a being which embodies both Vishnu and Shiva). Although a small temple, consisting of a shrine and a hall, the Siddeshwara temple stands out for its creativity.

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With its tall sikhara, the Galaganatha shrine is distinctive among the ruins.

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AIHOLE

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ike its neighbouring destinations Pattadakal and Badami, Aihole is home to many noteworthy architectural sites which go far down the lane of th Karnataka’s history, right to the time of the Early Chalukyas of the 6 century, if not even further back to mythology. Inscriptions found here reveal that Aihole, which is now in Bagalkot district about 500 km from Bangalore, was earlier known as Ayyavole and Aryapura. Heralded as the ‘cradle of Indian temple architecture’, there are around 125 temples here, of which the most prominent are the Kontigudi and Galaganatha groups.

DURGA TEMPLE The name ‘Durga’ possibly refers to this temple’s being part of a fortification for the Marathas, and not its exclusive worship of the goddess. From an architectural perspective, the unique semi-circular design of the edifice makes it one of the most th th photogenic temples of Aihole. Built during the 7 or 8 century, the structure draws from the southern Dravidian style for the base and has a tower addition that is inspired by the northern Nagara style. The columns at the entrance are adorned with carvings of figures and elaborate decorative work.

HUCCHIMALLI

TEMPLE

th

Built in the 7 century, the Hucchimalli temple reflects a change in the way architects went about their construction. The result is the little sukhanasa (vestibule) that projects out at the front of the sanctum. The inside of the temple is a showcase for some intricate artwork and the sikhara (tower) in the North Indian style is detailed with elaborate carvings as well.

LAD KHAN

TEMPLE

Though dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Lad Khan temple is named after a Muslim prince who used this temple as his residence for a short while. Another unusual th aspect of the shrine is that the architects of the 5 century seem to have endowed it with two mantapas (pillared hall) – a mukhamantapa (entrance hall) and a sabhamantapa (gathering hall). The Durga temple has a unique semi-circular design.

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The Gol Gumbaz is spread across 18,000 square feet.

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BIJAPUR

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ijapur, about 570 km from Bangalore, derives its name from the Sanskrit word beejpur which means pomegranate. It was also known as Vijayapura, or city of victory, during the reign of the Kalyani th th Chalukyas during the 10 and 11 centuries. There are three landmarks or portions that are synonymous with this city the citadel, the fort and the ruins.

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

intriguing question that has persisted over the ages. Some historians opine that work ceased when it was realised that the completed structure’s shadow would touch the Gol Gumbaz. It is believed that the original plan for the building was to create 12 arches arranged in a horizontal and vertical framework that would surround the tombs of the king and his queens. However, only a few arches were finally constructed and the structure is often described as a roofless wonder.

CHAND BAWDI th

GOL GUMBAZ The Gol Gumbaz is the final resting place of Mohammed Adil Shah, who ruled Bijapur from 1627 to 1657 AD. Its dome is said to be the second largest in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is also known as Gol Gumbadh, meaning rose dome. Rose petals surround the dome at its base, giving it the look of a budding flower. The brain child of architect Yaqut, the foundation of the Gol Gumbaz rests on bedrock thus preventing unequal settlements. Spread across 18,000 square feet, it is considered an outstanding example of Deccan architecture. The star attraction of the edifice is the whispering gallery, where even the softest whisper travels across and can be heard from the other side, and a sound echoes multiple times.

BARA KAMAN Why the Bara Kaman, the unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II (1656–1672 AD), was never completed is an

This massive tank was constructed in the 16 century by Ali Adil Shah I on the eastern boundary of Bijapur and named after his queen Chand Bibi.It was created to meet the basic need of water for the local populace. However, with the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, Bijapur saw an influx of people and an expansion of new settlements. A grander complex was then constructed around it, for use by the maintenance staff and occasionally for the recreation of the royals.The tank has a water storage capacity of 20 million litres and is considered a model for planners even today.

IBRAHIM RAUZA The Ibrahim Rauza is located on the western outskirts of Bijapur. There are two magnificent buildings: a tomb to the left and a mosque to the right, both surrounded by a lush green garden, with a fountain between them. Ibrahim Adil Shah II constructed the Ibrahim Rauza for th his queen, Taj Sultana, during the early 17 century. This structure is considered the most ornate work of art in Bijapur. It also has prayer towers measuring to a height of 79 feet. The tomb contains the interred remains of the Shah 55


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Ibrahim Rauza is considered the most ornate work of art in Bijapur.

and his queen. The massive basement beneath the entire structure has secret passages and was used to store food and munitions.

MALIK-E-MAIDAN This ‘Monarch of the Plains’ or the ‘Lord of the Battlefield’, is the biggest gun in Bijapur and can be found to the north of Phatka gate on the Sherzi-Buruz (or lion tower). It is reputed to be one of the largest cannons of the medieval era. Engravings reveal that it was 56

cast in 1549 AD at Ahmednagar by Muhammed Bin Hussain Rumi. It was possibly hauled by oxen and elephants to Bijapur as a war trophy in 1632. Made of bell metal, the Malik-e-Maidan is 4.5 m in length, 1.5 m in diameter and weighs 55 tonnes. Its muzzle is fashioned in the shape of a lion’s head with wide open jaws and beautifully carved fangs. This magnificent cannon is adorned with Persian and Arabic inscriptions and carvings. An inscription bears the boast of the Mughal ruler Aurangazeb in 1686 AD, that he had subdued it.


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The scenic architectural heritage of Badami

BHUTHANATHA

BADAMI

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ituated about 500 km from Bangalore in Bagalkot district, Badami was the capital of the empire of the th th Early Badami Chalukyas in the 6 and 8 centuries. The architects of this kingdom built elaborate Hindu and Jain temples that were cut into caves; a feat which makes Badami, or Vatapi as it was once called, an integral part of the North Karnataka heritage circuit.

AGASTYA-TIRTHA LAKE The Agastya-Tirtha lake in Badami is said to have been created th in the 5 century, and is idyllically positioned by the cave temples. Locals here believe that the lake has healing powers and thus, consider it to be most sacred.

AND

MALLIKARJUNATEMPLES

This famous temple is located among the cluster of shrines on the eastern bank of the holy Agastya-Tirtha tank in Badami. It is said that the credit for the inner shrine and hall of this temple, with its pillars and decorative lotus motifs, goes to the Early Badami Chalukyas, while the outer hall that overlooks the lake was an add-on by the Western Kalyani Chalukyas. Further contributions came in the form of a Shiva linga which was put in by the Lingayats at a later date. The Mallikarjuna temple is located in the cluster on the north eastern side of the Agastya-Tirtha tank. Its style of architecture, following the tiered pyramid pattern, convinced historians that it was the brainchild of the Western Kalyani Chalukyas.

CAVE

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The cave temples of Badami showcase distinctive art.

them. While each cave has a sanctum sanctorum, mantapa (pillared halls) and pillars, there is something distinct about each of them in the art they showcase. The first temple contains a spectacular sculpture of Nataraja with 18 arms in a tandava (divine dance of Shiva) pose, with Nandi and a dancing Ganesha for company. The second cave features sculptures of Bhuvaraha and Trivikrama. The third shrine celebrates Lord Vishnu again, with carvings of the god in various forms including Narasimha, Varaha, Harihara and Trivikrama. An inscription found here dates the creation of the shrine to 578 AD. In the fourth cave, the carvings of Tirthankara Parshavanatha (with a serpent at his feet) and Lord Mahavira in a sitting posture are 58

described as soothing pieces of art work. The fifth cave temple at Badami is an ode to Buddhism and is situated in a natural cave.

MALEGITTI SHIVALAYA In northern Badami atop a massive rocky red sandstone boulder, stands the Malegitti Shivalaya temple. Besides its idyllic location, what sets this shrine apart is that it has apparently been made without the use of mortar. The shrine is dedicated to a benign aspect of Lord Shiva, that of a garland maker, and is said to be one of the oldest stone temples built by the Chalukyas.


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The elegant Jama Masjid of Gulbarga

GULBARGA

F

ollowing a succession of rulers in the region, the city of Gulbarga was founded by the Bahmani sultans in the 14thcentury and served as their capital. The Persian influence is evident in its architecture, and its moniker: gul means flower and berg means leaf, though locals refer to the place as Kalburgi or stony land. Because of its predominantly black soil, Gulbarga which is about 600 km from Bangalore, is a chief cotton growing area and centre of cotton trade. 59


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FIRUZ SHAH BAHMANI

HERITAGE & ARCHITECTURE

TOMB

The mausoleum of Firuz Shah Bahmani, the eighth ruler of the dynasty, is considered the most beautiful of the seven royal tombs found on the eastern outskirts of Gulbarga. The influence of the Tughlaqs and the Bahmanis can be seen in the architecture, especially in the decorative motifs. Two massive domes crown the structure, and there are four entrances, two each in the north and south. While decorative stone screens adorn the upper level, the lower one features the design of blind arches. Ornamental minarets can also be found at the cornice level.

GULBARGA FORT Still standing firm against the vicissitudes of time is the fort at Gulbarga, which was built during the late 14th and the early 15thcenturies. The presence of 26 cannons which were used in past wars, is some evidence of its fortitude. With a double layer of fortification walls and a 30-foot wide moat for

further military protection, attention to aesthetics can be seen in the space given to gardens, palaces, courtyards, temples and mosques. Historians have observed some influences from the Moorish style of architecture in the structure. While the citadel at the centre is one of the highlights of the fort, the famous Jama Masjid of Gulbarga also lies within its precincts. Inspired by the Cordoba mosque of Spain, the architecture of this mosque is considered unique in India, with its massive dome covering its entire area. The elegant design of the many domes of the structure and its arched columns is particularly praiseworthy. A large structure houses the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Mohammad Gesu Daraz, popularly known as Khwaja Bande Nawaz, who came to Gulbarga in 1413. A melange of influences can be seen in this building: from the architecture in the Indo-Saracenic style, to the paintings that hark of Turkish and Iranian slants, to the arches in the dargah that are built in the Bahmani style. Every year, a fair called Urs-eShareef is held here in the month of November.

The Gulbarga Fort was built during the 14th to 15thcenturies.

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BIDAR

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Bidar was once the capital of the Bahmani Sultanate.

T

he capital of the Bahmani Sultanate (1347-1527 AD) in the latter part of its existence, Bidar is about 700 km from Bangalore in the northernmost part of Karnataka. It derives its name from bidiru (meaning bamboo), owing to the numerous bamboo clusters in the region.

architecture and has magnificent arches. The Sherza Darwaza depicts carved images of two tigers on its fascia, which according to the Shia belief, is an indication that the Sultan assured protection to the building and its inhabitants from enemies.

SOLAH KHAMBAH

BIDAR FORT The fort at Bidar was already existing and was fortified by Sultan Ahmad Shah Wali Bahmani who shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar in the 15thcentury. Made of red rock, the fort stands on the edge of the plateau and has a haphazard quadrangular layout plan of 1.21 km length and 80 m width. The peripheral length of the fort walls measures 4100 m. The most prominent of its seven gates is the Gumbad Darwaza, which is styled on Persian

One of the largest mosques in India, the Solah Khambah mosque is housed within the fort. Named after its sixteen prominent pillars, the structure bears elements of the motifs of the Sasanian Empire, from which the Bahmani sultanate claimed lineage. The Solah Khambah mosque is an imposing and impressive structure with massive circular columns and a long prayer hall with 19 passageways. Other highlights near the mosque are the Gagan Mahal, the diwan-e-am, the Takhat Mahal, the Naubat Khana and the royal bath.

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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 4

Fount of Faith

Karnataka has been indivisibly interwoven and resonant with the perennial spirit of India’s religious and philosophical crosscurrents. It has unquestionably vivified the crosscurrents of the Vedic, Buddhist, Jain, Neo-Vedantic and the mystic melody of the Bhakti schools with its own genius and profound wisdom. The roots of two religiophysiological movements in particular, Veerashaiva and Madhwa, can be traced to this state. Jainism took firm root since as rd early as the 3 century. Muslim dynasties, like that of the Bahmani kings, and the Sufi saints encouraged the spread of Islam; indeed, across the region, the azan is as familiar a sound as the ringing of temple bells. Christianity can be th traced to the 16 century with the advent of the Portuguese and St. Francis Xavier. Sri Bhagandeshwara temple near Triveni Sangam


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FOUNT OF FAITH

istory, though taking into account the brilliant luminaries of the various schools of thought and religion, concerns itself more with leaders who influence millions to create epoch-making philosophical or religious movements, often typified as ‘cult’ or ‘community’. Two such major religiophilosophical cults, the Veerashaiva and the Madhwa,

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have risen and continue to endure in Karnataka, both concomitant with the pan-Indian Bhakti movement. Two other religio-philosophical movements, led by philosophers born outside Karnataka, were prevalent in the state before the dawn of these two traditions. Their philosophies have been accepted and nurtured by the people of Karnataka, and have had a prominent role to play in the religious and political scenario of the state.


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ADVAITA A gigantic figure in the history of Indian philosophical thought, Adi Sankara (788-820 AD), born in Kerala, extensively toured the length and breadth of the country. He was greatly successful in establishing the Advaita school of philosophy in the forefront. It is one of the important philosophical traditions representing the orthodox Indian school of Vedanta. Among the four monastic centres he founded in four cardinal directions of the country, he chose to establish the southern center in Sringeri, a picturesque hamlet in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. This centre has had an unbroken tradition of seers who have been held in reverence by many royal lineages that have ruled Karnataka. Vidyaranya, a prolific statesmanphilosopher who played a pivotal role in establishing the mighty Vijayanagara Empire of the south, later went on to become a head of this monastery. This centre has continued to have an influential role in the religious spheres of the state. Karnataka has a considerable number of people who adhere to the tradition of Advaita.

SRI SAMPRADAYA Born in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, Ramanuja (1017-1137 AD) is a prominent theistic philosopher who firmly established the Visistadvaita system of philosophy in the south. His tradition, popularly known as Sri Sampradaya or Srivaishnavism, assimilates the devotional school of the Alvar saints of Tamil Nadu with the Vedanta system of philosophy. Tradition holds that he was driven out of Tamil Nadu by a Chola king; from there, he walked along the banks of the river Cauvery into

the neighbouring Hoysala kingdom, ruled by a Jain king. Ramanuja, with the help of the Hoysala king, vanquished the Chola ruler and was successful not only in gaining a huge royal patronage in the south, but also converting the king to his own tradition. He also established a prominent temple at Melkote which disseminates his teachings. The state has a large number of followers of this tradition. Many kings of the Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Mysore Wodeyar dynasties, which ruled the state since the time of Ramanuja, adopted Sri Sampradaya as their official tradition. Almost all the major Vaishnava temples in Karnataka are officiated by the followers of this school.

VEERASHAIVA The Veerashaiva movement, or Veerashaivism, in Karnataka was founded and promulgated by statesman, philosopher and social reformer, Basava (circa 1134-1196 AD), along with contemporary mystics like Allama Prabhu and Akka Mahadevi, among others. At a very early age, Basava developed and demonstrated an undisguised critical disposition towards the orthodox Vedic practices of caste, alongside a deep love towards Lord Shiva. These dual passions snowballed into a gigantic social and religious movement which engulfed and united the masses, irrespective of caste or creed; it shook the age-old varna (caste) system to its roots, spreading beyond the borders of Karnataka into neighbouring Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Although Veerashaivism of Karnataka explicitly pledges its allegiance to the Veerashaivism cult led by the 63 Nayanmars of Tamil Nadu, it significantly differs from

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Basava and Madhwacharya, two iconic religious leaders of the region

the latter in two aspects: firstly, in its rebellion against the caste system, that was never challenged by the Shaivite saints of Tamil Nadu; secondly, in its more harmonious blending of the Shakti Visistadvaita system of philosophy of Tamil Shaivism and the Advaita philosophy, as demonstrated by the literary works of Allama Prabhu, Nijaguna Shivayogi, et al. The Veerashaiva movement, since its very inception, has exercised a strong influence over the social, political and religious spheres of Karnataka. Many royal dynasties that ruled Karnataka have extended their support to the 66

movement and philosophy of Veerashaivism, and Basava himself served as prime minister to King Bijjala. Veerashaivism has a following of more than 22 percent of Karnataka’s population and is purportedly the largest community in the state. Vachanas, the poetic expressions of insightful spiritual vision and vividly suggestive imagery by the saints of the cult, remain an everlasting contribution to Kannada literature, in particular, and world literature at large. The movement has sprung many mutts (monasteries) which are engaged in disseminating education to the downtrodden populace, thus living up to its doctrine of Dasoha or service.


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MADHWA The name has been derived from Madhwa (1238-1317 AD), an extraordinarily bold and methodical philosopher of Karnataka. The Madhwa tradition represents and propounds the out-and-out, realistic-pluralistic facet of the orthodox system of Vedanta philosophy. Born into a traditional Tulu-speaking Brahmin family in the tiny hamlet of Pajaka in coastal Karnataka, Madhwa developed intense independent thinking at a very tender age. He demonstrated his massive intellectual prowess by refuting many a learned scholar, even as a student under the tutelage of Acyuta Preksha; this consummated in a full-grown system of philosophy, thoroughly refuting the idealistic Advaita of Adi Sankara. A prolific author, Madhwa has left behind a treasure of philosophical and poetic works, chief among which are his commentaries on the triple canon of the Vedanta philosophy. Assuming monkhood under the name of Purnaprajna, he toured the country several times, propounding his philosophy of Tattvavada, more popularly known as the Dvaita (dualistic) system; hand in hand with this, was total surrender and devotion to Lord Vishnu, the monotheistic Vaishnava tradition. The tradition was carried forward under the able leadership of saint-philosophers like Akshobhya Tirtha, Jayatirtha, Vyasatirtha and Vadiraja who were immaculate logicians. However, it was recognised very early that philosophy was never for the masses; core teachings in the form of hairsplitting logic in abstruse Sanskrit could never have propagated a tradition. Thus emerged the Dasakuta, which set out Madhwa’s teachings in soul-stirring devotional compositions. These poetic works are replete with divine love, surrender and servitude towards their icon Vishnu, especially in his incarnation as Krishna. Beginning with Sripadaraja, a stalwart of the tradition, this practice was continued by other followers like Vyasatirtha and Vadiraja. These compositions in simple Kannada, set to the tunes (ragas) of early South Indian traditional music, later produced mystic saint-composers like Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa; Purandaradasa has now been recognised as the father of Carnatic classical music for his significant contribution towards stabilising the basic tenets of this music tradition. These devotional compositions spread their fragrance throughout Karnataka and beyond, setting a solid base for further development in Carnatic classical music. It also enhanced the art form of Yakshagana in coastal Karnataka, which is said to have inspired the Kuchipudi dance form of Andhra Pradesh. The tradition was further adopted by the Gaudiya Vaishnavas of Bengal under the leadership of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and now has emerged as ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), a worldwide movement spreading the Krishna cult. The two traditions have added meaning and glory to the spiritual, social and political life of the people of the state.

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NORTHERN KARNATAKA PLATEAU

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eographically, the Northern Karnataka Plateau comes in the Deccan Trap region, cut through by the river Krishna and its tributaries. Bidar and Gulbarga, with their rich spiritual histories, add further texture to the region.

BIDAR - GURU NANAK JHIRA SAHEB GURUDWARA Situated about 700 km from Bangalore at the foothills of Bidar, the Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib is dedicated to the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev. An exquisite marble palanquin stands in the darbar sahib of the gurudwara, and outside the building, is a tank with spring water that is considered holy. The story goes that 500 hundred years ago, Guru Nanak Dev was in Bidar on a visit. After locals complained to him about the lack of clean water in the area, he removed a stone from the hill and revealed the spring. The birthday of the spiritual leader is celebrated at the gurudwara with pomp and splendour in November every year. 68


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Guru Nanak Jhira Saheb Gurudwara is dedicated to the first Sikh guru.

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GULBARGA - KHWAJA BANDE NAWAZ

DARGAH

Dating back more than six centuries, this tomb was built in memory of the revered Sufi saint, Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gesu Daraz. It is situated in Gulbarga, about 600 km from Bangalore. The edifice falls in the Indo-Saracenic mode, with arches that are representative of the style the Bahmani architects were partial to. Paintings on the walls and domes reflect Turkish and Iranian styles. The Urs-e-Shareef, or death anniversary, of the deceased Sufi saint attracts thousands of devotees who come to pay their respects and seek blessings. The dargah has a library with over 10,000 books in Urdu, Persian and Arabic on subjects ranging from history to literature. Near the tomb is a mosque, believed to be the work of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gesu Daraz was built more than six centuries ago.


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CENTRAL KARNATAKA PLATEAU

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hikmagalur, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Raichur, Koppal and Shimoga populate the region of the Central Karnataka Plateau, which is also home to the Tungabhadra basin. More than just spectacular views, the district of Chikmagalur offers spiritual solace for those seeking it at its ancient places of worship. The Sharada temple at Sringeri features meticulous craftsmanship.

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The restored Annapoorneshwari temple

HORANADU - ANNAPOORNESHWARI

TEMPLE

Around 300 km from Bangalore, Horanadu is a small town resting serenely on the banks of the river Bhadra near Chikmagalur. Dedicated to the Goddess Annapoorneshwari, another form of Parvathi, this ancient shrine has been restored and renamed Shaktyatmaka Shree Annapoorneshwari. It enshrines an image of the Goddess with a shanku (conch), chakra (disc), Sri Chakra and Devi Gayathri in her hands. Every devotee is provided with free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and tea or coffee as preferred, as Annapoorneshwari translates to ‘feeding one and all’. 72


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The Sharada temple pays homage to the Goddess of wisdom and learning.

SRINGERI - SHARADA

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TEMPLE

The picturesque town of Sringeri is situated on the banks of river Tunga in Chikmagalur district, 340 km from Bangalore. It was here that centuries ago, Adi Sankara is said to have seen a cobra using its hood to provide shade to a frog in labour pain. So impressed was he by the sanctity of such a place where natural enemies were living in harmony, that he chose this locale to establish the first of his Amnaya Peethams, or monasteries, to preserve and foster the knowledge of the Vedas. The temple here was consecrated in the name of Sharadamba, Goddess of wisdom and learning, and over the years, the peetha attained the stature of a Vyakhyana Simhasana, or throne of transcendental wisdom. The acharyas who are chosen to lead the peetha are seen as spiritual masters by devotees, who will guide them to the fulfilment of the purpose of life. 73


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Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple at Dharmasthala was consecrated 800 years ago.

COASTAL KARNATAKA REGION

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ith the Arabian Sea as its backdrop, the coastal belt of Karnataka has been the stage for a multitude of spiritual epiphanies over the centuries. Extending between the Western Ghats and the magnificent sea, the region covers the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada.

DHARMASTHALA SRI MANJUNATHA SWAMY

TEMPLE

The 800-year old temple at Dharmasthala is located amidst the verdant Malnad forests in the district of Belthangady, around 300 km from Bangalore. It represents a confluence of faiths, as here, the Jain Tirthankara is worshipped on the same consecrated grounds as the native Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Lord Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite

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Brahmins and the guardian of the temple is Heggade, a Jain by faith. It is believed that the temple’s foundation was laid when the guardian angels of Dharma (called Dharma Daivas), who were in search for a place that dharma was being practiced, visited the abode of the Jain Bunt chieftain, Birmanna Pergade. Pleased with the generosity of Pergade and his wife, they appeared in his dream and instructed him to vacate his house for the worship of the Daivas, Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari, there. Lord Shiva is also worshipped at the temple as Manjunatha, as are Ammanavaru and Chandranath. The golden Shiva linga, the symbol used to worship God Shiva, attracts thousands of devotees every day, and annual festivals, like the jatre in April, which lasts over nine days, are a reason for grander celebrations. Dharmasthala is also a revered Jain basadi. It was and continues to be an important centre of Jainism. The centuries old Shri Chandranathswamy temple is amongst the most revered Digambara shrines.


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GOKARNA - MAHABALESHWARA TEMPLE

How apt that Gokarna should have a beach called Om, with its coastline at this stretch taking the shape of the sacred Hindu symbol. Along with the tranquil beaches, the coastal town, which is about 500 km from Bangalore, is home to temples as revered as the one dedicated to Sri Mahabaleshwara. Built in the Dravidian style, the shrine worships Lord Shiva, and is of special significance because of the Atmalinga. Legend has it that Lord Shiva gifted the Atmalinga to Ravana on the condition that he should not place it on the ground till he reached his final destination of Lanka. Lord Ganesha however managed to trick Ravana and put it down on the ground at Gokarna where it has remained. For ardent devotees, a viewing of the Atmalinga amounts to the shower of blessings from the Gods. The temple is also considered one of the seven sacred Muktisthalas, or places of salvation, and many Hindus perform the last rites of the departed in this place. The Mahabaleshwara temple is home to the Atmalinga.

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Devotees flock to the Mookambika temple to worship Goddess Shakti.

KOLLUR - MOOKAMBIKA

TEMPLE

Devotees, both royalty and commoners, have for ages flocked to the Mookambika temple which is an important seat of Shakti worship in Kollur, about 400 km from Bangalore. It is believed that many centuries ago, most of the jewellery adorning the idol was presented by the Bednore kings and their overlords, the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire. The edifice is covered with a roof of copper with a gold plated crest. The Mookambika deity, a manifestation of Shakti, Saraswathi and Mahalakshmi, is fashioned from panchaloha, a mix of five metals, and rests on the Sri Chakra. Adjoining the sanctum is the Sankara Simhasanam, which honours the spot where the Adi Sankara was said to have been meditating when he saw a vision of the Goddess and decided to consecrate a shrine in her name. 76

KARKALA - JAIN

MONUMENTS

The legend goes that after winning a war against his brother, the conflicted prince Bahubali devoted many years to meditation and was ultimately rewarded with the knowledge of truth. More than five centuries after it was built, the 42 feet tall statue of Lord Bahubali, or Gomateshwara, at Karkala has the power of captivating those who come seeking it. The monolithic statue has retained its air of serene dignity, and stands firm as a symbol of man’s triumph over worldly desires. Every 12 years, Jain devotees flock to Karkala, 365 km from Bangalore, for a grand festival called Mahamastakabhisheka where the gigantic statue of Gomateshwara is bathed with saffron paste, milk and water. Also at Karkala is the Chaturmukha basadi, which gets its name from the four entrances incorporated into its design. It houses statues of three Tirthankaras, Arhat, Malli and Suvrata, among many other images within its square mantapa. It is considered one of the most famous temples of Karkala and offers a peaceful spot for meditation and prayer.


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The Lord Gomateshwara statue stands 42 feet tall.

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The Kukke Subrahmanya temple draws devotees who seek to avoid sarpa dosha.

SULLIA - KUKKE SUBRAHMANYA

TEMPLE

Located in the midst of the verdant greenery of the Western Ghats, the temple, which is in the district of Sullia, 319 km from Bangalore, attracts devotees from far and near who are seeking to do a Sarpa Dosha puja (to avert the wrath of the Serpent God). Pilgrims take a dip in Kumaradhara river before entering the temple. According to mythology, Subrahmanya, the lord of serpents, gave refuge to the serpent king Vasuki and other snakes at the site of this temple when they were threatened by Garuda. Devotees circumambulate a silver-coated Garuda pillar seeking protection from the poisonous breath of Vasuki. The most important ceremony performed here is the Ashlesha Bali puja. 78


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MANGALORE ST. ALOYSIUS CHAPEL St. Aloysius Gonzaga was an th Italian aristocrat of the 16 century who chose the path of a missionary, forsaking all his wealth, power and influence to service the needy. Perched on top of Lighthouse Hill in Mangalore, about 350 km from Bangalore, is a chapel that pays homage to his short life and exemplary deeds. Built in the 1880s by Jesuit missionaries, the interiors of the St. Aloysius chapel are richly decorated with paintings, a la the Sistine Chapel of Rome. The labours of love of Brother Antonio Moscheni, many of these are dedicated to St. Aloysius; others pay tribute to other important Jesuit saints, and of course, the life of Jesus Christ. The St Aloysius Chapel has richly decorated interiors.


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Sri Krishna mutt, one of the eight sacred places at Udupi

UDUPI – SRI KRISHNA

TEMPLE

For devotees of Lord Krishna, he is the supreme being, from the time he was a playful child who showed his mother the cosmic universe in his mouth, to his being one half of a divine love story with Radha, and then becoming the wise advisor of the Mahabharata. The depth of their love for this avatar of Lord Vishnu is propounded in one legend that surrounds the Sri Krishna mutt, one of the eight sacred 80

places at Udupi. It is said that Kanakadasa, a devotee of Lord Krishna, was barred entry to the temple because he was of a lower caste. Undeterred, he stood outside the temple and his intense prayer to the Lord apparently cracked the western wall and caused the idol to turn around, allowing him to see his God in all his splendour. Till date, pilgrims travel from all over to Udupi, about 400 km from Bangalore, to get their first glimpse of the idol of Lord Krishna through a window or kanakana kindi at this spot.


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BHATKAL MURUDESHWARA

The 249-feet high rajagopuram and magnificent Shiva statue at Bhatkal

TEMPLE

Situated atop Kanduka Giri in Bhatkal, about 450 km from Bangalore, the Murudeshwara temple holds special significance for devotees of Lord Shiva. According to mythology, the demon king Ravana was tricked out of the Atmalinga that he was carrying. In a rage, he flung the cloth that covered it which fell at Murudeshwara and a linga is said to have come up on the spot. Devotees of Lord Shiva queue up for a glimpse from the threshold of the dark sanctum of the temple. Easier for them to see is the 123feet tall statue of Lord Shiva that is a spectacle to behold. A rajagopuram (royal temple tower), of 249 feet, is yet another iconic sight here. The monuments and sculptures enhance the natural idyllic beauty of this place of worship, which is surrounded by water on three sides. 81


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The Infant Jesus church draws devotees from all faiths.

SOUTHERN KARNATAKA PLATEAU

C

overing the districts of Bangalore, Kodagu, Hassan and Mysore, among others, the fabric of the region changes from hills in the west to plains in the east. Faith is a common thread weaving through the land, infused with different shades of many beliefs. 82

BANGALORE - INFANT JESUS

CHURCH

Come Thursday and there is an unusual throng in central Bangalore. For ardent believers who hail from many faiths, the sweetly smiling Infant Jesus at the shrine here is a centre of miracles and divine solace. It had humble beginnings in a makeshift tent in the early 1970s, and has grown into a large church today that can accommodate 2,500 people. The fan-shaped main hall has nine faces, allowing devotees to view the altar with ease. The central mural is a reproduction of the nativity scene from the Nativity Church of Jerusalem.


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The aesthetic façade of Jumma masjid

BANGALORE - JUMMA

MASJID

The azan is a familiar sound resonating through the busy streets of KR Market in Bangalore, beckoning the devout to the Jumma masjid. The five-storied mosque, which was earlier known as Sangian Jamia Masjid, is famous for its architectural splendour. The prayer hall is at an elevated level and is supported by ornate granite pillars. The brick and mortar structure of the mosque has an impressive facade, which is embellished with elaborate lattice-work and floral motifs. During festivals, the minarets and the edifice are decorated with lights lending a divine aura to the masjid. 83


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BANGALORE - ISKCON

TEMPLE

Atop a hillock in Rajajinagar in the western part of Bangalore, a golden kalasha looms over the horizon. Come dawn, the lilting strains of shlokas and bhajans pour out, as sweet as the unique prasadam served to devotees after the puja. For followers of Lord Krishna, the spiritual experience at the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple is quite unparalleled, and in turn, their belief and support is unshakeable. Founded in New York in 1966, the organisation preaches the love of Lord Krishna, who is regarded as the prime entity, for leading a simpler, more harmonious life. At the grand temple in Bangalore, within the exterior façade of gopurams (temple towers) and glass, the level of devotion is ardent and opulent and no stone is left unturned in the service of the Lord, which begins at 4.15am and goes on till 8.30pm. The Sri Krishna Balarama Ratha Yatra is celebrated every year with much fanfare, and thousands of devotees take part in the procession of the chariot carrying the deities. Outside their service of the Lord, the missionaries of the temple also serve society as members of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, a trust that runs a much appreciated mid-day meal programme in schools. Started in Bangalore in 2000, the charity now reaches out to schools across nine states of India, providing more than 1.5 million children with a freshly-cooked meal every school day. Preparations for the puja

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The harmonious environs at ISKCON

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BANGALORE - ST. MARK’S

FOUNT OF FAITH

CATHEDRAL

This cathedral is an oasis of peace

The sound of bells fills the air on Mahatma Gandhi Road in Bangalore as worshippers gather within the soothing precincts of the St. Mark’s Cathedral. This exquisite cathedral was built in the colonial style between 1808 and 1812, and consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1816. It is part of the Church of South India and is named for St. Mark, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, who is believed to have authored the Gospel of Mark, the second book of the New Testament. Roman arches and stained glass that were installed when it was rebuilt in 1927 draw particular praise. Every year, St. Mark’s cathedral celebrates the Festival of Peace during the Christmas season, where choirs from around the city sing for an audience of people of all faiths. St. Mark’s is known for its Music Academy which offers systematic study as prescribed by the Trinity College of Music, London and the associated board of the Royal School of Music, London. The sound of music from this church is truly uplifting, as students sing and play a variety of instruments. 86


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St. Philomena’s Cathedral was built by French architects in the 1930s.

MYSORE - ST. PHILOMENA’S

CATHEDRAL

In the north of the city of Mysore, which is 146 km from Bangalore, twin spires tower over the skyline. These belong to the majestic St. Philomena’s cathedral, which was built by French architects between 1933 and 1941 at the request of the Bishop of Mysore, Reverend Rene Feuga. Distinguished by its neo-Gothic style of architecture, exquisite stained glass windows and lofty towers, the main hall of the church is embellished with ornate interiors. The crypt houses a beautiful statue of St. rd Philomena, a 3 century saint from Greece, and her relics are still preserved in a catacomb below the main altar. By night, the brightly illuminated church is a wonderful sight. 87


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TALAKAD - PANCHALINGA

FOUNT OF FAITH

TEMPLES

Five ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva rest on the sands of Talakad, a town situated on a bend of the river Cauvery. These are the Kshethra Sri Vaidyanatheshwara, Sri Pataleshwara, Sri Maruleshwara, Sri Arkeshwara and Sri Mudukuthore Mallikarjuneshwara. The shrines at Talakad, which comes under the district of Mysore, 133 km from Bangalore, witness their peak of devotion during the Panchalinga Darshana festival, held every few years. While a large number of pilgrims and tourists throng the temples every day, the footfall increases to over a million during the five-day festival. Colourful traditional costumes, dances and fanfare mark the festival, and the temples are decorated with plantain stalks and flowers, adding to their beauty. The shrines at Talakad worship Lord Shiva

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SHRAVANABELAGOLA GOMATESHWARA TEMPLE Shravanabelagola (meaning white pond of the shravana) is an important Jain pilgrimage centre in Hassan district, 142 km from Bangalore. The 57-foot monolithic statue of Gomateshwara Bahubali on the Vindyagiri hill represents the pinnacle of sculpture and architecture reached by the Western Ganga Dynasty (350 to 1000 AD). Bahubali was the son of the first Tirthankara, Bhagwaan Rishabh Dev. Conflicted after winning a war against his brother, he renounced his kingdom and worldly pleasures. He immersed himself in meditation for many years, at the end of which he was rewarded with enlightenment. His victory over such human frailties as selfishness, jealousy and pride, is held in the highest regard by Jain devotees. He was th immortalised as a statue in the 10 century. The exemplary craftsmanship of the sculptors can be seen in the creepers and vines growing around the body of the idol and the divine aura of serenity that it exudes. At the temple, only Bahubali’s feet can be seen, and prayers are offered every day. Once in 12 years, in a ceremony known as the Mahamastakabhisheka, the statue is anointed with milk, curds, saffron and gold coins. A number of Jain basadis can be seen around the Chandragiri hill nearby, the most famous of them being the Chandragupta basadi. It was built by King Ashoka in honour of the Mauryan king Chandragupta who had sought solace through meditation here.

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The 57-foot statue of Lord Gomesteshwara in Shravanabelagola is the world's largest standing monolithic statue.


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Artistic frescoes illustrate Jain beliefs at the temple.

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COORG - BYLAKUPPE The rhythmic beats of metal gongs fill the green fields of Bylakuppe, resonating from the Golden Temple in the Tibetan settlement. It is located about 250 km from Bangalore, and appears like a world apart from everything else in Karnataka. The monks with distinctively north-eastern physiognomy and bright magenta and ochre robes, however, speak fluent Kannada and are very much at home here. Bylakuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement in India after Dharamsala, and the Golden Temple is the centre for all Tibetan Buddhists residing in South India.

Buddhist monks at Bylakuppe

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Magnificent 40 feet high statues of Buddha flanked by Padmasambhava and Amitayus adorn the altar.

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TALACAUVERY - CAUVERY

FOUNT OF FAITH

TEMPLE

The Cauvery river touches the lives of many in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the course of its journey to the Bay of Bengal. Devout Hindus call the Cauvery ‘Daksina Ganga’ or Ganges of the South, and the moniker amply indicates the sacredness of the river for them. With myths and legends attached to the origin of the river, an immense number of worshippers can be found at its geographic birthplace, Talacauvery, located in the Brahmagiri hills of Kodagu district, about 300 km from Bangalore. The shrine has been constructed adjacent to a large tank called Tirth Kundike. It is fed by a spring that is said to be the sacred river in its origin. Tula Sankramana, which occurs in October, is considered the most auspicious day of the Kodava calendar, and attracts thousands of devotees from the region and afar to take a dip in the holy water. River Cauvery is believed to originate in this spring.


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The Bhagandeshwara temple is built in the Karavali style.

TALACAUVERY - BHAGANDESHWARA

TEMPLE

The breathtaking coffee county of Kodagu (Coorg) has, within its precincts, Bhagamandala or the Triveni Sangam, the site of the confluence of the Sujyothi, Cauvery and Kannike rivers. While the sangam, around 300 km from Bangalore, is considered sacred by devotees, they also make it a point to worship at the Sri Bhagandeshwara temple nearby; Tula Sankramana, which usually occurs in October every year, is considered an especially auspicious occasion. The temple is built in the Karavali (west coast) style of architecture and is dedicated to the Lords Bhagandeshwara (Shiva), Subrahmanya and Mahavishnu. The village and the temple are named after the sage Bhaganda, who installed the Shiva linga at the temple. 95


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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 5

Festivals & Celebrations

Starting with Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival, right through Ugadi to Easter and Eid, there is a festival to celebrate throughout the year. While some celebrations like Karaga, Suggi, and Kodava festivals like Kail Pold and Puttari are special to some communities in the state, others like Ganesha Chaturthi, Deepavali, Christmas and Bakri-Eid cut across religious divides. Occasions like Dasara and Rama Navami have also become celebratory showcases of talent of music, dance and more. Sweets and diyas are a significant part of religious celebrations.


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MAKAR SANKRANTI

A

quaint food ceremony imparts a distinctive flavour to the Makar Sankranti (or harvest festival) celebrations in Karnataka. People give each other ellu bella (a combination of white sesame seeds and jaggery, along with groundnuts, pieces of dried coconut and a sliver of sugarcane), as part of the exchange of good wishes. The traditional food goes with the greeting, “Ellu bella thindu olle mathadu” (eat ellu bella and speak of good things). This harvest festival comes in January and is seen as the harbinger of prosperity. Cattle are dressed in colourful costumes and paraded in processions.

The traditional food of Makar Sankranti

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MAHA SHIVARATRI

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Devotees paying homage to Lord Shiva in Bangalore

O

ne of the all-powerful Trinity of Gods of Hinduism, Lord Shiva is worshipped on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, that occurs in March. While there are several legends about the significance of this day, the most commonly accepted belief is that when poison emerged from the churning of the ocean of milk, it was Lord Shiva who stepped in and drank it to save all living beings. His wife, Parvathi, caught it in his throat, turning it blue (thus, Shiva is also known as Neelkantha, the blue-throated one). Doctors advised the celestial Gods to keep Shiva awake all night, which they did by dancing and singing his praises. This is the most unique aspect of the festival, the jaagarane or night long vigil that takes place, giving the festival its name (ratri means night). The worship of the God also includes the chanting of special shlokas in his praise and offering the linga cold water, milk and bael leaves. The footfalls at the Shiva temples in the state go up exponentially, as devotees patiently wait their turn to pay their respects to the Lord. Special cultural programmes are also organised in many shrines to enrich the proceedings. 99


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UGADI

W

FESTIVALS & CELEBRATIONS

Jaggery, neem leaves and obbattu are considered auspicious for Ugadi.

ith the sweetness of jaggery and the bitter bite of neem on their taste buds, Kannadigas embark upon their new year on Ugadi. The day usually comes in the month of April. According to mythology, it was on this auspicious day that Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe. As part of the celebrations, the women of the household wake up well before dawn and after a purifying oil bath, they decorate the entrance to their homes with brightly coloured rangoli (designs on the floor from flour) and tie thoranas (strings) of mango leaves across doorways. Clothed in vibrant saris and adorned with traditional jewellery, they offer newly blossomed jasmine flowers to the deities. Having a nibble of bevu bella, a pickle of neem and jaggery, is customary as acceptance of the sour and sweet events that life brings. A portion of holige or obbattu (a chapatti stuffed with powdered Bengal gram and jaggery) ensures the addition of further saccharine to the day. 100


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RAMA NAVAMI

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Rama Navami is a community affair in the state.

R

ama Navami, the festival marking the birth of Lord Rama, falls in the month of April every year. The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Rama is revered by Hindus for upholding the values of Dharma. The celebration of his birth includes the special worship of his deity at homes and temples, and in the community, panakam (a concoction of jaggery, water, lemon, pepper and spices), kosambari (a salad of pulses), prasad and majjige (buttermilk) are generously distributed. Specific to Bangalore, the Fort High School grounds of Bangalore are witness to the Sree Ramaseva Mandali Festival that starts on Rama Navami and goes on for more than a month. This festival, the pride of Karnataka and especially of Bangalore, is a platform for Hindustani and Carnatic music artistes from all over to showcase their talents. Religious discourses are conducted during the day, while the enthralling notes of classical music sanctify the air in the evenings. 101


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KARAGA

K

araga, which is celebrated in March or April, is considered one of Bangalore’s oldest and most important festivals, and is also unique to the southern part of Karnataka. The festival of Karaga is an ode to Draupadi and contrastingly, is celebrated by men of the Thigala community in the state. The Thigalas believe they are the descendants of the Veerakumaras, the army that Draupadi created in her form of Shakti to defeat the demon Tripurasura. Although she did not consent to the Veerakumaras’ request to remain with them, she promised to pay them an annual visit. This visit 102

is celebrated by the Thigala men of today in the form of a colourful procession. They are led by a priest appointed as the bearer of the karaga, which features the deity atop an elaborate headdress. In Bangalore, the procession commences from the Dharmarayaswami temple. The karaga bearer wears a woman’s attire to depict his being a manifestation of the Goddess and leads the procession which visits houses of the Veerakumaras and makes a stop at the Hazrat Tawakal Mastan Shah dargah to honour the Sufi saint. The procession moves through the streets of the city and returns to the temple by dawn.


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Karaga is an important festival for the Thigala community.

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RAMZAN

R

amzan, or Ramadan, is considered the most sacred month of the Islamic year as it is believed that the Quran (the holy book of the religion) was revealed during this time. Falling in July and August, the devotion of Muslims for their faith is seen in all its fervour. Rigorous fasting, increased prayer and recitation of the Quran, and charity are a few of the rituals of the festival; all of these are believed to aid spiritual enlightenment and upliftment by cleansing the soul, giving Allah the worship he merits, and teaching the virtues of self-sacrifice and generosity. During this month, devout Muslims practise abstinence from food and liquids, and iftar is the evening meal that breaks the fast; it usually includes fried snacks, traditional desserts, and other delicacies to tuck into. Areas like Mosque Road in Bangalore reel in people of all faiths, eager to gorge on the scrumptious festive fare being dished out at the street food stalls. The holy month ends on Eid-ul-Fitr, a day of thanksgiving and forgiveness. Special prayers are offered in the morning and men, women and children wear their best clothes for the occasion, and greet each other warmly with, “Eid Mubarak.”

Delicious samosas await devout Muslims who break their fast after the evening prayer during the holy month of Ramzan.

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NAGA PANCHAMI

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or Hindus, Naga Panchami, that comes in the month of July or August, is a festival that holds special significance. Some celebrate the day as a commemoration of Lord Krishna’s victory over the cobra Kaliya. Others pray to the serpent gods of Hindu mythology to remove the curses they may have cast. In some families, the festival augurs well for strengthening the brother-sister bond. Among its many spiritual spaces, the temples that venerate the snake Gods in Karnataka see a spike in devotion on Naga Panchami, or Nagara Panchami as it is called in some parts of the state. Kukke Subrahmanya in Sullia and the Shree Anantha Padmanabha Temple at Kudupu throw their doors open to a mass of pilgrims on the festival, who anoint the idols with milk, tender coconut, turmeric, honey and flowers. Ant hills and snake pits, which are believed to be the abode of snakes, are also worshipped. Undes (or laddoos) and arasina ele gatti (or sweets made in turmeric leaf ) are some of the delicacies prepared on this day. The day before Naga Panchami is observed as Naga Chaturthi and married women keep a fast for the well-being of their family and to be blessed with their first child. The snake idols are anointed with milk, tender coconut, turmeric, honey and flowers.

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KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI

O

ccuring in August or September, Krishna Janamashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In Karnataka, the occasion is a time for worship and revelry, befitting the many facets of the God. At Udupi, the venerated centre of pilgrimage that is home to the Sri Krishna mutt, the festival is celebrated over two days.

Devotees flock to the temple to witness the special puja and be a part of Vittal Pindi, the grand chariot procession of the idol, on the second day. In other parts of the state, competitions and games like mosaru kudike, similar to the dahi handi custom of west India, make the festival a merry cultural affair. In their own homes, followers of Lord Krishna start their puja by drawing little infant feet in flour on their floors, a tribute to his mischievous habit as a child of entering people’s houses to steal butter.

Devotees please Lord Krishna with offerings of butter and other milk products.

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FEAST

OF

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ST. MARY

A

t the culmination of a nine-day novena, September 8 is a celebration of the birth of Mother Mary, the mother of God, and an occasion for her followers to offer her their thanks for all she has bestowed upon them. St. Mary’s basilica in Shivajinagar, Bangalore, wears a particularly festive look on this day every year, with its spire all lit up in the evening and with devotees of all faiths thronging the lanes, many of them clad in saffron-hued apparel.

Beginning with a holy mass, the day ends with a grand procession of a chariot pulled by the enthusiasts, carrying the six-foot tall statue of Mother Mary dressed in a beautiful silk sari. In Mangalore, the day of St. Mary’s Feast coincides with the festival of harvest or Monthi Fest. Corn is blessed at the altar and distributed among parishioners; children shower flowers on the procession and are given treats and sugarcane to eat. At the end of the rejoicing, the family sits down to a vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf, and drinks milk which has the new corn mixed in it. Mother Mary’s ardent believers throng the basilica during the Feast.

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Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated with fervour in the region.

GOWRI-GANESHA

S

uch is the faith in the elephant-headed God Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and bestower of wisdom, that his name is often the first to be invoked in any puja. The ardent devotion that he evokes in his followers can be seen during the festival dedicated to him, Ganesha Chaturthi, that usually comes in the month of September. Much before the festival itself, colourful idols of the God in all sizes can be seen in shops and stalls lining the streets, and people look forward to choosing the perfect one for their homes, and decorating it in their own way. It is also believed that another special divine guest should be given a warm welcome at this time: Lord Ganesha’s mother, Goddess Parvathi, or Gowri as she’s called here.

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Children offer namaz on Eid.

BAKRI- EID

B

akri-Eid, Eid-Ul-Zuha or Eid-Ul-Adha is celebrated on the tenth day of the month Dhu al-Hijjah of the lunar Islamic calendar. It comes in the month of October or November. The festival commemorates the act of sacrifice, as portrayed by the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to forsake the life of his dearest and only son, Ismael, for the sake of God. However, when the time came for the deed, it is said God intervened and replaced Ismael with a ram. In the present day, the practice of qurbani (meaning sacrifice) of an animal plays an integral part of the celebration, and one-third of the meat is given to the poor. For Muslims, it is an occasion to dress in their finest, and exchange gifts and delicacies with their near and dear ones. The holiday mood is augmented by the tantalising smell of biryani, phirni and other mouth-watering delicacies.

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DASARA

D

asara, which usually occurs in September or October, is a festival that hails the triumph of good over evil. In some parts of Karnataka, this is portrayed through the burning of effigies of Ravana and his family by artistes dressed as Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana; in others, like Mysore, the Goddess Chamundeshwari’s slaying of the demon Mahishusara is heralded as Vijayadashami, and is preceded by nine days of cultural festivities. Dasara in Karnataka is synonymous with Mysore, and the Mysore Dasara is amongst the grandest spectacles on earth, with pomp and pageantry that draws visitors from around the globe. The celebration of Dasara as a nada habba (festival of the land or people’s festival) is traced back to the th kings of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 15 century. Adopted th by the Wodeyar royal family much later in the 17 century, Mysore Dasara took the shape of an annual extravaganza of piety and gaiety.

Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar presides over Dasara festivities.

Nowadays, the city of Mysore wakes up from its quiet existence for the festival and for ten days, becomes the exuberant setting for events dedicated to music, dance, drama, sports and more, with participants coming from across the state and other parts of the country. The tenth day of Vijayadashami is the grand finale to the proceedings, with the Jambu Savari, a regal procession of about a dozen bedecked elephants. The golden idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a gigantic golden howdah atop a trained royal tusker and paraded from Amba Vilas palace grounds to the Banni Mantapa. The magnificent procession is led by vintage cars, performing acrobats and dancers, soldiers in brightly-coloured uniforms, and bedecked horses. Going on for four km, this torchlight parade is the highlight of the festivities and a showcase for the historic grandeur of the region. Preparations within the Amba Vilas Palace

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Trained elephants, resplendent in royal colours, are the main attraction of the Jambu Savari on Vijayadashami.

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DEEPAVALI

M

uch like the lamps that are lit during the festival, Deepavali ignites gaiety and camaraderie across the country, though the legends behind the celebration vary from north to south. Coming in the month of October or November, the first day in Karnataka is observed as Naraka Chaturdasi, when the demon king of Pragyotispura was destroyed by Lord Krishna. After an early morning puja, crackers are burst as part of the rejoicing and sweets and delicacies are exchanged with near and dear ones. The second day encourages the worship of the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and prayers are offered at businesses and offices for their continued prosperity. The third day, Bali Padayami, commemorates the victory of Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar over the powerful emperor Bali. As a consolation, the God granted Bali one day in the year to visit his subjects, and on this day, devotees welcome him by lighting lamps to illuminate the path to their homes. Colourful sparklers light up the Deepavali night.

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Decorated churches reflect the festive spirit of the season.

CHRISTMAS

T

he festivity of the season infuses the air long before December 25 with the dulcet sounds of carols praising the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour; the cheer of brightly lit stars and wreaths that dangle from doorways; the spectacle of Christmas trees adorned with stars, little Santa dolls, coloured bells, pine cones, and drums; and the mouth-watering aroma of cakes, puddings and other delights being conjured up in kitchens. Across Karnataka, the churches are bedecked in all their glory, with scenes from the Nativity being showcased, and for the special mass, their doors are thrown wide open, welcoming people of all faiths. Earlier in the year, Easter, the day that celebrates the resurrection of Christ, is another major Christian festival that is celebrated across the state with great enthusiasm. 113


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KODAVA FESTIVALS

T

he picturesque coffee county of Kodagu, or Coorg, celebrates a number of festivals through the year. While Ugadi and Tula Sankramana are common to other parts of Karnataka, two special occasions are intrinsic to Kodagu.

KAIL

POLD

Picture Coorg and the visual of verdant plantations and estates immediately springs to mind. The implements that play such a significant role in their upkeep are paid homage to during the festival Kail Pold, that comes in the month of August or September. Along with farming aids like ploughs and sickles, weapons like guns and knives that guard these prized lands are also worshipped. As part of the ritual, the implements are cleaned, assembled, anointed with sandalwood paste and worshipped with the burning of incense. Kodava specialties like kadumbattu (rice dumplings) and pandi (pork) curry are prepared for the occasion and savoured with delight. The community also comes together to participate in the games that are organised around the district. 114

PUTTARI

Nere Kettuvo (left) and the cutting of paddy leaves (right) are rituals associated with Puttari.

The word puttari or huthari connotes new rice and is the harvest festival of Kodagu. It is celebrated by Kodava families towards the end of November or early December with great gusto, with the raucousness of kids bursting firecrackers adding to the merriment. Everyone dons traditional apparel and delicacies like thambuttu (rice powder with bananas and cardamom), kalanji and bella neer (a gruel of jaggery), holige (a chapati stuffed with powdered Bengal gram and jaggery) and puttari payasa (sweet milk preparation) are prepared. The entire family gathers in the ain mane or balliya mane or ancestral home, which is beautifully decorated with flowers, bananas and strings of mango leaves. As part of the ceremony, the head of the family is handed a sickle and the gathering, led by a woman carrying a lit lamp, proceeds to the field. A gunshot is fired to mark the beginning of the harvest with chants hailing, “Poli poli deva.� The first crop is then cut and taken back home to the prayer room as an offering.


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SUGGI

T

he Halakki tribe of the coastal belt of North The Halakki tribe has a distinct identity and celebrates Suggi through dance. Karnataka has a distinctive identity, from the apparel of the women who drape their saris in a special way and wear many beaded necklaces, to the special dialect of Kannada that they speak. The tribe celebrates Suggi Habba or the harvest festival that comes after Makar Sankranti in a unique manner. The most significant aspect of the occasion is the Suggi Kunitha or the local folk dance that is performed by a troupe of men. Dressed in vibrant costumes and flamboyant headgear, the dancers move to the beat of a drum called gummate, and the music of other instruments. With the aim of seeking divine blessings for the community, the troupe moves in a procession from house to house and village to village, and their journey could last upto a week.

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The Arts Karnataka has a vibrant heritage of art and culture. The ethnic diversity of the land has resulted in a confluence of cultural traditions: it is the only state that has nourished both Carnatic and Hindustani styles of music. The cosmopolitan outlook of its residents also welcomes influences from around the world. Several forms of dance from the classical Bharatanatyam to the resonant folk performances such as Yakshagana, thrive here. From traditional temple sculptures to contemporary artistic interpretation on canvas and paper, it is evident that the muse has artists across the state in its thrall. Literature and theatre intersect seamlessly in the world of words, and interpret the language rooted in the past in contemporary idiom. A performance by the Prasiddha Dance Repertory


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A concert during Ramothsava

MUSIC

K

arnataka has a long and unbroken musical tradition that has been enriched by numerous streams which have coalesced in an aesthetic

fashion.

Kannada poetry and literature of the 12th century indicate the prevalence of several percussion, string and wind instruments, and a large number of ragas peculiar to the Karnataka region known as battisa raga. A musical and spiritual revolution occurred during the 12th to 15th centuries when the Veerashaiva and the Haridasa movements swept this region. Both these movements used a delightful combination of music and poetry to convey the lofty principles of Vedanta to the common folk in a manner that they could understand and relate to. Several Shiva Sharanas (while this term means those who have surrendered themselves to Lord Shiva, it particularly refers to the 12th 118

century Vachanakaras or poets) starting from Basaveshwara to Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi, Guheshwara and others conveyed their messages of social reform through their simple, yet profound, vachanas. The Haridasas (the literal meaning is ‘servants of Lord Hari’; these were the Vaishnava saints in 13th to 14th centuries AD) like Narahari Theertha, Sripadaraya, Vyasaraya, Vadiraja, Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa and others composed devaranamas or songs in praise of the Almighty in simple Kannada. Many of them were wandering minstrels who implored the commoners to abdicate their sinful and selfish existences and adopt the path of Godhead and virtuous living. The reign of the Rayas of Vijayanagara (1336-1646 AD) was the golden period of Karnataka’s political and cultural ascendancy. The consolidation of the musical traditions of South India occurred during this time as the culturally sensitive monarchs sponsored several musicologists. Scholars like Kallinatha, Pundarika Vitthala, Govinda Dikshita and Venkatamakhi made significant contributions


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to Indian musicology, with the classification of ragas into groups of melas, lakshanas or features of individual ragas. This provided the bedrock for modern Carnatic music to flower into a distinctive art form in the 18th century under the famed Trinity of Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri.

Basavappa Shastry, Veene Chikkaramappa, Veene Chikka Lakshmiramanappa, Veene Krishnappa, the great vocalist ‘Janjaamaaruta’ (cyclone) Subbayya, Shyama Shastry’s disciple Appukuttan Nattuvanar, Mysore Sadashiva Rao, Shunti Venkataramanaiya, and Thatchur Singarachar received court patronage.

THE WODEYAR PATRONAGE

A distinctive style of playing the veena, famously known as the Mysore Baani, was developed. There was a surfeit of vainikas in the kingdom with streets named after them. Along with the pioneer of the style, Vainika Shikhamani Veene Seshanna, Mysore saw the flourishing of a plethora of vainikas: Veena Shamanna, Subbanna, Padmanabhaiya, Shivaramaiya, Venkatagiriappa, Subrahmanya Iyer, Doreswamy Iyengar and more.

Among the feudatories who became rulers of small kingdoms were the Wodeyars of Mysore, who were patrons of the arts. Several of the early Wodeyars like Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar (1673-1704 AD) were musicians and scholars themselves. Chikkadevaraja is credited with authoring a musical treatise called Geeta Gopala, much like Jaideva’s Gita Govinda. The later rulers of this dynasty shaped the modern Kannadiga’s eclectic musical tastes. With the fall of Tanjore, which was a major seat of music in South India, many of the musicians from there started migrating to provinces like Mysore and Travancore or the Madras Presidency. The period from 1800 to 1950 was undoubtedly a golden period in the music of Karnataka. Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868 AD) composed several javalis on the theme of renunciation and is credited with musical treatises like Swara Chudamani, Sara Sangraha Bharata and Sritatvanidhi. The first ever iconographical representation in South India of ragas, swaras and talas as human beings, much like the ragamala paintings of North India, was done in Mysore at the behest of Mummadi. Famous musicians such as Veene Anantha Subbayya, Veene Sambaiya, Veene Dodda Subbaraya, Thyagaraja’s disciple Lalgudi Rama Iyer, his sons Guruswami Iyer and Radhakrishna Iyer, Aliya Lingaraje Urs, Chinnayya of the famous Tanjore Quartet,

Under Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1894-1940 AD), the Mysore court was a melting pot of various cultures, traditions, musical forms and musicians and had some of the greatest artistes of the time, like Mysore Vasudevacharya, Bidaram Krishnappa, Mysore Karigiri Rao, Dr. Harikesanallur Muthhaiah Bhagavathar, Belakwadi Srinivasa Iyengar, Chikka Rama Rao, Chintalapalli Venkata Rao, N Chennakeshavaiah, the inimitable T Chowdiah with his famed seven-string violin, to name a few. The first fusion performance in Mysore was perhaps in the 1920s when there was a grand instrumental ensemble of Otto Schmidt on the violin, Margaret Cousins on the piano and Seshanna on the veena. The Royal School of Music that Nalwadi established taught not only Indian instruments and music, but Western drums, pipes and the piano. The court took an active interest in teaching music, setting it to notation, scientific theory and systematisation. 119


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The last of the Wodeyar kings, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar (1919-1974) was a celebrated musician, musicologist and scholar himself. He passed the annual examinations of the Trinity College of Music in London in piano playing with great distinction, as also from the London Guild Hall of Music. Later shifting his interests to Carnatic music, he composed 97 stellar compositions in chaste Sanskrit; these are rich in imagery, lyrical beauty and philosophical purport.

SUGAMA SANGEETHA Apart from the distinctive vachana sangeetha that exists in Karnataka since the time of the Shiva Sharanas, the huge influence of Marathi songs and natya sangeet (theatre music) in Northern Karnataka was instrumental in shaping the sugama sangeetha (or bhavageethe) form. In the early years, sugama sangeetha was a hybrid of many styles of music: Hindustani classical music, Marathi folk songs and natya sangeet. The Mysore region had its tryst with sugama sangeetha in the 1930s. It was under talented singers like Sampatkumar Acharya, who sang the poems of V Seetharamaiah. While composers like HK Narayana and Padmacharan had a distinct stamp of Carnatic classical music, it was under stalwarts like P Kalinga Rao and Mysore Ananthaswamy that these songs began to transcend bounds of a particular form or a geographical landscape. With their rich understanding of both music and Kannada literature, they gave a new dimension to sugama sangeetha. Deep, reflective, and contemplative, and at the same time, exhilarating, soft and mellow, these tunes personified the new age Kannadiga. Though sugama sangeetha started with these distinctive identities of North and South Karnataka, they coalesced in spirit: first, during the time of the Freedom Movement in arousing a sense of patriotism, and more importantly later, in the quest for a unified state which had the language of Kannada as its basis of formation. Creating a sense of identity and self-respect and espousing the works of the past poets became the cornerstone for music. It also laid the foundations of the Kannada film industry’s musical traditions. By the 1970s, the new star of the sugama sangeetha world, C Ashwath, emerged. A highly talented artist, he blended the lyrical and musical dynamics in a unique and dramatic way. His renditions of

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BHIMSEN JOSHI (1922-2011): Bhimsen Joshi is regarded as a titan of Hindustani classical music. Through his rare voice, he was a passionate exponent of the Kirana gharana, and could also enchant audiences when he rendered devotional songs. He was able to reach out to the public while remaining true to the tradition of music. Joshi is believed to have the most recordings in Hindustani vocal music, and appeared in the national integration song ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’. Among his many accolades, is recognition by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, both in the form of an award in 1975 and a prestigious fellowship in 1998.


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the Sufi poems of Shishunala Sharifa became popular across the length and breadth of Karnataka.

JANAPADA

SONGS

The very soul of the state comes alive in the janapada or folk tradition, in an amalgam of music, dance, temple rituals and traditions. Yakshagana is a unique theatre form that combines dance, music, costume, poetry and stage techniques in a splendid fashion and has thrived in the coastal, Malnad and Mysore regions. The music is distinctive and is rendered by a bhagawatha and a variety of instruments such as maddale, harmonium, chande and others. The music is set largely to Carnatic ragas. Other forms prevalent in the state include Dollu Kunitha, Puja Kunitha, Pata Kunitha, Bhoota Aradhane, Nagamandala, Gorava Kunitha, Kamsaale, Togalu Bombeaata and Krishna Parijaatha which have a rich musical influence in addition to dance movements and theatrics.

RAMOTHSAVA The tradition of Ramothsava originated in South Karnataka, possibly in the late 19thcentury. Legendary musicians like Mysore Sadashiva Rao, Veena Seshanna and Bidaram Krishnappa hosted musical soirees in Mysore during the festival. About 75 years ago, the tradition was revived in Bangalore by SV Narayanaswamy Rao, with the active support of violin maestro T Chowdiah and flute wizard TR Mahalingam.

Dr. MS Subbulakshmi, the doyenne of Carnatic music, performed at several concerts in this state.

All the maestros of Indian classical music have performed at the festival including MS Subbulakshmi, ML Vasanthakumari, DK Pattammal, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Chowdiah, Veena Doreswamy Iyengar, GN Balasubramanian, Balamuralikrishna, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Parveen Sultana and Shiv Kumar Sharma. Going on for 40 days in the sprawling Fort High School Grounds in Chamarajpet, it is an ode to the spirit of Karnataka, which like a huge melting pot, welcomes and absorbs different thoughts and cultures, thereby adding to its cosmopolitan nature. Several other organisations organise annual music festivals, the most famous of them being the Bangalore Gayana Samaja, the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, the Malleswaram Seva Sadan in Bangalore, the Alva Virasat festival in Mangalore and the Dharwad music festival. 121


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Young musicians like Trilochan Kampli are carrying forward the tradition of Hindustani music.


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MUSIC

Though the tradition of Hindustani music in Karnataka is just about 130 years old, all the four major gharanas: of Agra, Gwalior, Kirana and Jaipur, took root here and the state has given rise to legendary musicians. The Mysore Rajas frequently invited Hindustani musicians to the court and encouraged them to stay for an extended period of time and to interact with the local Carnatic musicians. Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Ustad Faiz Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Nathan Khan, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, Ustad Rahimat Khan and Neelakantabua Mirajkar spent considerable time in Mysore, while Gauhar Jaan stayed on as a court musician. The renowned vocalist of the Agra gharana, Ustad Faiz Khan, was bestowed the title of ‘Aftaab-e-Mausiqui’ (or the resplendent sun in the world of music), by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. Such interaction created immense cultural symbiosis: it facilitated an erudite Muthhaiah Bhagavathar to incorporate many Hindustani ragas into Carnatic music while Ustad Abdul Karim Khan learnt many Carnatic kritis from Vasudevacharya and in fact incorporated the kalpanaswara technique into the Hindustani sargams which are an integral part of his Kirana gharana. Sarala Debi Choudhrani stayed for two years in Mysore and upon her return to Bengal, she sang Carnatic songs to her uncle Rabindranath Tagore, who was so impressed that he composed songs based on these. Many of the Carnatic kritis like ‘Lavanya Rama’ and ‘Meenakshi Me Mudam dehi’ have their Bengali counterparts as well. On their way back to the North, most of these musicians would make a stop-over in Hubli or Dharwad, where they would either teach interested students or regale audiences with their performances. Rahimat Khan, for instance, got so attracted by the musically-surcharged atmosphere in Dharwad that he decided to stay back for good. He established the Bharatiya Sangeetha Vidyalay there in 1931 which continues to impart musical education till date. Many stalwarts born in this part of Karnataka have made the world of Hindustani music proud, notable among them being Mallikarjun Mansur, Sawai Gandharva, Basavaraj Rajguru, Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, Puttaraj Gavai, Kumar Gandharva to name just a few. VIKRAM SAMPATH

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MALLIKARJUN MANSUR (1910-

PUTTARAJ GAVAI (1914-2010):

GANGUBAI HANGAL (1913-2009):

1992): Mallikarjun Mansur was a renowned maestro of the khayal style in the Jaipur gharana, and also as skilled in natya sangeet and Carnatic classical. In a career of more than 60 years, he mesmerised audiences with the power of his vocal ability and his sincerity. Honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Mansur’s legacy lives on through his recordings with HMV and All India Radio that forever mark his contribution to the world of classical music.

Though he lost his eyesight at a very young age, Puttaraj Gavai was never held back by his disability. An adept musician, he earned fame in Hindustani classical as a member of the Gwalior gharana, and was as proficient in Carnatic; he could also play a number of instruments like the tabla, veena and mridangam. Gavai’s renditions of the vachanas were particularly riveting. He also wrote several books, many of them on spirituality and music, and was the recipient of many accolades, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi award.

Fighting the prejudice of the caste system and a society that looked down upon women who took up singing as employment, Gangubai Hangal reached the pinnacle of her profession and is revered as one of the finest female musicians the country has seen. She was a proponent of the Kirana gharana of Hindustani classical music and the rich timbre of her voice, which contrasted with her slight physical appearance, was a constant source of amazement for her audience. She was the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1973 and the prized fellowship in 1996.

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DORESWAMY IYENGAR (1920–1997):

RK SRIKANTAN (1920): Born into a

T CHOWDIAH (1895-1967): The

After making his debut at the Mysore Palace at a very young age, Doreswamy Iyengar was appointed as one of the asthana vidwans or court musicians when he was barely 16. A virtuoso on the veena, his talent impressed senior artistes like T Chowdiah, who invited him to accompany his violin recitals. Among the many other memorable jugalbandhis in his career, Iyengar also collaborated with Hindustani classical musicians like Mallikarjun Mansur, Ali Akbar Khan and Amjad Ali Khan. Iyengar was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1970, among his plethora of other achievements.

family of musicians, RK Srikantan made his debut performance at the age of 13. In over eight decades of enrapturing audiences, he has stayed true to the tradition and purity of Carnatic music, and is credited with popularising the compositions of the Haridasas. Srikantan also worked with All India Radio for many years. Besides several other awards, he was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1979.

creator of the seven-stringed violin, T Chowdiah was a maestro of his genre and one of the most revered names of Carnatic classical music. Such was his association with the instrument, that he was also known as Pitilu Chowdiah (in Kannada, pitilu means fiddle or violin). He was also a sought after accompanist and trained many disciples for years to help them perfect their art. He was honoured with a Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1957; the Chowdiah Memorial Hall of Bangalore is named after him.

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Scene from a play by Spandana with B Jayashree (seated bottom right)

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was itself inspired by a Kannada Yakshagana group.

THEATRE

K

annada theatre thrives, not with uniform success, but unflagging vitality. It is in reality ‘Karnataka theatre’ and a ready host to the theatre of many tongues: Urdu, Tulu, Konkani, Kodava, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi and Hindi, through drama festivals and competitions of national significance, in college and corporate campuses, and in factories and prisons. The rich traditions of theatre, the complex and vital modernist influences, the patronage of the Mysore royal family and the enterprise of great practitioners like Gubbi Veeranna, Mallappa, Subbaiah Naidu, Varadachar, Hirannaiah, Mohammed Peer, HK Yoganarasimha, Bellary Raghava, GV Iyer and HLN Simha, along with a host of extraordinary women like Nagarathnamma, BP Rajamma, B Jayamma, and SK Padma Devi have all contributed to the diverse and surviving forms of Kannada drama and theatre. Kannada cinema has its origins in professional theatre, and cinema icon Dr. Rajkumar began his career with Subbaiah Naidu on the stage.

‘COMPANY’

YEARS

Plays were first performed in Bangalore around 1885, although the founder of the city, Kempe Gowda I, himself is reputed to have written a Yakshagana, in Telugu. th

During the years of the late 19 century, Kannada theatre in the northern regions of Karnataka was influenced by Parsi and Marathi professional ‘company’ drama. Curiously, the most influential of these Marathi companies from Sangli,

In Old Mysore, the Wodeyars, who were deeply affected by Marathi and Urdu language performances, encouraged Kannada writers and performers to produce and stage translations of Sanskrit drama and Shakespeare’s plays. In 1882, the Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar, founded the Sri Chamarajendra Karnataka Nātaka Sabha, which survived by its original name for over three decades and in revival for three more. A type of the traditional theatre form, known as Moodalapaya, was prevalent in the Old Mysore area. Modernists slowly replaced music and dance in the performance with dialogue. This began to attract educated, middle-class audiences. Spurred by the interest of the audience and under the influence of royal patronage, dozens of companies sprang up all over the state, with many like the famous Gubbi winning national fame. Under its new leader, the legendary Veeranna, the Gubbi company spent Rs 36000 on a production of Kurukshetra in the 1930s in Bangalore, with live elephants and horses and gorgeous sets. Over time, the extravagant productions of professional company theatre became financially risky with mounting rivalry and production costs. Companies that were not so gifted tried to rival the big shows with cheap entertainment, dialogue with double entendre and desperation, and the companies began to die. Today B Jayashree from the Gubbi family and Master Hirannaiah are the surviving champions of this tradition. The folk forms of Doddaata, Sannaata, Sri Krishna Parijaata, Yakshagana and other, perhaps even older, forms like Jogirata, continue to be practised in the Malnad areas, coastal districts and northern Karnataka. 127


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MODERNISM

THE

In his essay titled Modern Kannada Drama and Theatre, Magsaysay award winner and legend of Heggodu (Ninasam), the late KV Subbanna wrote: “Modern Kannada theatre resisted the bonds of traditional forms and gave itself to the new forms from the West.”

The staging of P Lankesh’s original play Sankranti, a translated production of Dore Oedipus, and Chandrashekhara Kambara’s Jokumara Swamy in the 1970s set off the second renaissance of the Kannada language culture.

Starting with the pioneering example of Sangya Balya, a play fraught with the modernist angst over adultery, he traced the history of modern theatre and drama in Karnataka against the colonial backdrop. Although Sangya Balya itself was a musical that derived from the traditional folk form, Subbanna pointed out that it was written by Rayappa, “a village teacher educated in the English system”.

These were produced by a group of youthful theatre activists under the organisation Pratima. The plays were directed by BV Karanth, with Girish Karnad acting as Oedipus and also as the villain Gowda in Kambara’s play; it also had B Jayashree in the cast.

Both TP Kailasam and Sriranga (Adya Rangacharya) studied in England and imbibed the ideas of contemporary British drama. Kailasam wrote urban satires of the Brahmin middle-class, and Sriranga wrote grimly and unrelentingly about the society he came from, with anger and derision. Samsa, a playwright in Mysore, wrote plays in the 1920s in a modernist idiom. These were the makers of modern Kannada drama in the Old Mysore region. On the Western coast, Shivaram Karanth experimented with a wide range of theatrical forms, from the traditional Yakshagana to modern farce. The modernist influence in drama soon engulfed new Kannada literature when BM Srikantaiah (BM Sri), a professor of English and a pioneer of the Kannada Renaissance, brought into the Kannada discourse Greek drama and aesthetics, which served as tools to critically analyse and interpret local classical traditions.

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NEW WAVE

These plays created a new group of stars of Kannada theatre who achieved national and international recognition. This period also brought to centrestage other great writers, directors and artistes who have influenced Kannada theatre aesthetics: Jadabharata (GB Joshi), CR Simha, C Loknath, Lokesh, R Nagesh, Prasanna, CG Krishnaswamy, BV Rajaram, C Ashwath and HS Shivaprakash. Lighting experts V Ramamurthy and Dr. Paresh Kumar, Make-up Nani, sound designer Abboor Jayathirtha and stage expert Venkatasubbaiah have played a major role in the growth of theatre in Karnataka. A new set of writers and directors are scripting a renewal of Kannada drama and theatre that a future generation will record and analyse. The centre of focus has now shifted from the state-owned Ravindra Kalakshetra to the professionally-managed, world-class theatre, Ranga Shankara, founded by Arundhati Nag in memory of her husband, director and actor, the late Shankar Nag.


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IN THEATRE

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Rangayana is a professional repertory company in Mysore.

A quiet and powerful revolution has taken place in training and performance, that has made theatre an essential part of the Kannada narrative. Ninasam in Sagar, Shimoga – the institution for training in theatre, repertory and performance, publishing and discourse – continues to thrive under the leadership of KV Subbanna’s son KV Akshara. The Shivasanchara Theatre Institute in Sanehalli, Chitradurga, is taking theatre training and performance to the grassroots, and Abhinaya Taranga in Bangalore, founded by the late AS Murthy, trains actors who readily find access to the big and the small screens. Murthy’s daughter, Gowri Dattu, exemplifies the Kannada tradition of a new generation inheriting the practice, as does the theatre group Prabhath Kalavidaru. 129


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ART’s English production of 'Valley Song' by Athol Fugard in 2012 at Jagriti theatre

ENGLISH

THEATRE

English language theatre in Bangalore city had its origins with Bangalore Little Theatre in 1969 (founded to counter a somewhat narrow-minded ‘Whites only’ organisation called Bangalore Amateur Dramatics Society). It continues to be articulated by enthusiastic young groups who have dared to write original works and put them on stage. Mahesh Dattani leads the list of famous playwrights from Bangalore who have found national and international fame. Theatre in Karnataka owes its open and generous spirit to its cosmopolitan origins, and the Kannada sensibility finds expression on stage.

PRAKASH BELAWADI 130

ARUNDHATI NAG played the role of Manjula Nayak in Girish Karnad's Kannada play Odakalu Bimba. He wrote the play for Ranga Shankara’s first production in 2005. It is performed as Bikhre Bimb in Hindi and A Heap of Broken Images in English. The play explores the dilemma of Indian writers who choose to write in English.


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GUBBI VEERANNA (1890-1974):

BV KARANTH (1929-2002): The

MAHESH DATTANI (1958):

A pioneer of Kannada theatre, Gubbi Veeranna established the drama company Gubbi Veeranna Nataka Company. It played a crucial role in promoting Kannada theatre, as well as grooming talent of the likes of Dr. Rajkumar, GV Iyer and BV Karanth. For his prolific contribution, Gubbi Veeranna was conferred the title ‘Nataka Ratna’ meaning jewel in the theatre world, and was also the recipient of a Sangeet Natak Akademi award. His legacy continues through the Gubbi Veeranna award for excellence in theatre, instituted by the Government of Karnataka.

multi-talented BV Karanth is venerated for his contribution both to theatre and cinema. He directed many successful plays in Kannada, like Hayavadana, Kattale Belaku, Huchu Kudure, Evam Indrajit, Oedipus, Sankranti, Jokumara Swamy, Sattavara Neralu, Huttava Badidare and Gokula Nirgamana, and in other languages. He founded BeNaKa in Bangalore and also established the Rangayana repertory in Mysore which fosters theatre. Among his many accolades, is the Sangeet Natak Akademi award that was conferred upon him in 1976.

Playwright, actor and director Mahesh Dattani has carved a distinct place for himself in the space of English theatre in India. Some of the plays he has written include Final Solutions, Dance Like a Man, Bravely Fought The Queen, On a Muggy Night in Mumbai, Tara and 30 Days in September. Dattani received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1998, the first playwright in English to be so honoured.

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CINEMA

I

t is on record that the first Kannada attempt at a silent film was the one that captured a stage performance of Bhakta Kabir by Gubbi Veeranna’s drama troupe at Tarikere in Chikmagalur district in 1924. Apart from this, Bangalore was the centre of movie production with the earliest film entrepreneurs coming from Bombay.

The earliest Kannada cinema available appears to be of Princely Mysore and its cultural attributes. Most of the early films were mythologicals and dealt with kings as would be appropriate for subjects in a monarchy. The earliest available films are Ramaiyer and Shirur’s Vasantsena (1941) and R Nagendra Rao’s Satya Harishchandra (1943). Linguistic reorganisation of the states was a key moment for Kannada cinema and two new genres of social and historical films suddenly came into evidence. Both of them responded in different ways to the ‘Kannada nation’. In BR Panthulu’s School Master (1958), there was a romance between people from different parts of Greater Mysore (later Karnataka) and different castes, to imply the knitting of spaces with the linguistic union of the Kannada areas. The historical films tried to find heroes and heroines from other Kannada areas (like Kitturu Chennamma) but the territory addressed was largely the region of the Old Mysore state. 132

Popular cinema in Kannada went through many stages. In the 1960s and 1970s, it brought alive the writing of people like Triveni (Belli Moda), AN Krishna Rao or AaNaKru (Sandhya Raga), TR Subbarao or TaRaSu (Nagara Haavu) and MK Indira (Gejje Pooje), who were popular writers from the Mysore region. This was because the ethos of Old Mysore lived in these writings and with Mysore defunct politically, Kannada cinema tried to cling to its memories. In the 1980s, there was the youth film. But gradually, the quality of Kannada language deteriorated and the films in the 1990s became vulgar with denigration of women. In the new millennium, there has been a great deal of violence in Kannada cinema. If one were to classify genres in Kannada cinema according to period, one could say that this is how the genres appeared: 1940s to 1960s – mythologicals (Bedara Kannappa); 1956 and after – socials (School Master); 1960s and 1970s – historical films (Ranadheera Kanteerava); 1980s – youth films (Premaloka); after 2000 – gangster films (Jogi). Kannada cinema, coming from an autocratic monarchy and a conservative society, was also conservative in its earlier period. The father was the ‘lord’ in the household; caste hierarchy was rigid although the castes were only connoted. Marriages were endogamous and ‘arranged’ between people of the same caste or social groups, although there were exceptions where ‘love’ was allowed. As an instance, CID 999 (played by Dr. Rajkumar in Jedarabale) was modelled after James Bond and he was attractive to women. This marked a change in how


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DR . RAJKUMAR

Dr. Rajkumar during a film shoot

(1929-2006): Starting off in the theatre troupe in which his father worked, Dr. Rajkumar’s big break in cinema was a lead role in Bedara Kannappa in 1954. After that, there was no looking back as he won over the hearts of millions through his enthralling performances. Dr. Rajkumar was also a singer and won the National Film Award for best playback singer for the song ‘Naadamaya’ from the film Jeevana Chaitra in 1992. Dr. Rajkumar’s cultural icon status is evidenced not just by the prestigious honours he won, which included the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, but also by the monikers coined by his legions of fans: ‘Rajanna’, ‘Natasarvabhouma’ (emperor of acting), ‘Gaana Gandharva’ (singer in the court of Gods), and ‘Annavru’ (beloved elder brother).

Brahmins were depicted in movies. In this film, a man with an apparently Brahmin name, Rao Bahadur Narasinga Rao, wanted Rajkumar as a husband for his daughter. We may therefore come to the conclusion that CID 999 a.k.a Prakash was a Brahmin! In movies until then when a Brahmin was explicitly denoted, he was shown as a priest and a wicked one, usually played by GV Iyer. While Kannada cinema has come a long way since then, one factor which must be recognised is that Kannada art cinema, exemplified by the work of directors like BV Karanth, Girish Karnad and Girish Kasaravalli, is different from popular cinema which boasts of talents like Puttanna Kanagal, Siddalingaiah, BR Panthulu and Dorai-Bhagwan. Art cinema, unlike popular cinema, has been closer to the pan-Indian art cinema. It is therefore able to deal with all of Karnataka instead of only Old Mysore like the popular films. MK RAGHAVENDRA

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GV IYER (1917-2003): GV Iyer

PUTTANNA KANAGAL (1933-1985):

GIRISH KASARAVALLI (1950): An

started his directorial career making commercial movies like Hamsageethe which saw great success; his later works on spiritual themes won him even more respect and accolades. Proficient in both Kannada and Sanskrit, Iyer is credited with making the first movie in Sanskrit Adi Shankara in 1983. Acknowledged as a masterpiece, it won National Film Awards for best film, best screenplay, best cinematography and audiography. Another pièce de résistance of his in Sanskrit, Bhagavad Gita in 1993, was also recognised as the best film at the National Film Awards of that year.

Puttanna Kanagal’s contribution as a director of Kannada cinema in the 1960s and 1970s is held in the highest regard. A filmmaker much ahead of his time, his movies bridged the gap between commercial and art cinema, with stories based on off-beat or taboo subjects and the quintessential songs and emotions Indian audiences love. In the course of his illustrious career, which also saw him direct films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, he won three National Film Awards among many other awards.

alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, Girish Kasaravalli is known as a film director who is a pioneer of parallel cinema in South India. In the course of a career that has spanned more than three decades, he has won multiple National Film Awards for his movies, like Ghatashraddha, Tabarana Kathe, Thaayi Saheba, Dweepa and Kurmavatara. This director’s brand of cinema is lauded for its aesthetics and the stories that showcase artistic realism.

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DANCE

D

ance is intrinsic to the cultural identity of Karnataka. Sculptures, literary references and iconographical evidence point to a flourishing culture of dance from a very early period. th

th

The 18-armed Nataraja in Badami (6 or 7 century) bears testimony to the fact that the intricacies of Natya Shastra, the ancient treatise of dance and dramaturgy, and the Abhinaya Darpana (mirror of gestures), were familiar references for the artists who immortalised them in stone. th

The 12 century Hoysala dynasty contributed hugely to the architectural and sculptural splendour of Karnataka, with Queen Shantala reputed to be amongst the best of dancers and a muse to many artists. The rich presence of dance friezes in the Hoysalan architecture is attributed to Shantala. (In a fitting memorial, the ‘Shantala Prashasti’, the Karnataka government’s most prestigious award for dance, is named after her.) The next phase of evolution in Karnataka’s dance heritage was seen during the Vijayanagara Empire, especially the phase patronised by King Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529 AD). During this period, folk dance forms started to make an appearance in the sculptural friezes; for instance, apart from the widely portrayed classical postures, there is a Kolatta panel on the Mahanavami Dibba in Hampi. th

The 16 century text Layaranjana written by King Simhabhupala elucidates the lasya or feminine aspects of

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

dance. During the same period, Ratnakara Kavi from the court of King Bharateshwara describes in his book Bharatesh Vaibhava the choreographic patterns of the court dancers in his works like Jalakannika (water nymphs), Hansakannika (swan maidens) and Dikakannika (celestial maidens of the directions). After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565 AD, dancers found patronage with the Nayaks (1532 -1673 AD) of Tanjore (Madras state, present-day Tamil Nadu). After a long hiatus, there was a resurgence of dance in the courts of the Wodeyars in Mysore, who apart from being benevolent patrons, were also well versed with nuances of classical music and dance. It is here that the Mysore style of Bharatanatyam was born and was nurtured. To keep up the proficiency of the court dance technique, contests like the jodi mela were often conducted where the two leading dancers competed against each other. Court dancers, including the renowned Jatti Thayamma and Venkatlakshamma, carried forward this tradition. Interestingly, the Maharaja would award performers with houses and thus the dancers would take on prefixes such as ‘Moorumaadi Chandramma’ or ‘Yeradumaadi Sundaramma’ depending on the number of floors their mansions possessed. The best court dancer was brought in a palanquin with much pomp and ceremony as torch bearers walked on either side; all this even in broad daylight. This was a special honour accorded by the Maharaja.

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A

THE ARTS

DANCE PHENOMENON

In the 1930s, the dance scenario shifted from Mysore to Bangalore when Bissano Ram Gopal, a striking young man of Burmese and Rajasthani origin, took the dance world by storm and put the city on the global map with a blend of various dance forms like Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Kathak choreographed as short sequences with an emphasis on the presentational aspect. A veritable dance phenomenon, he opened a studio in Bangalore where he created acclaimed choreographies and launched the careers of famous exponents such as Mrinalini Sarabhai, Leela Ramanathan and MK Saroja to name a few. He also invited teachers such as Guru Sohanlal (Kathak) and Guru Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai (Bharatanatyam) to teach at his studio. Subsequently, he moved to the United Kingdom, where he was honoured with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contribution to dance. Ram Gopal’s associates, the dancer couple US Krishna Rao and his wife Chandrabhaga Devi, founded their Bharatanatyam school Mahamaya and trained several dancers in their career spanning over six decades. During the World War, dancers like Ram Gopal and Shanta Rao often presented performances to collect money for the war funds. The nationalistic period saw Dr. Maya Rao surface with avant-garde choreographies connected to the concept of freedom and also issues such as the Bengal famine. Reputed dancers like Leela Ramanathan, Keshavamurthy, Kaushik, Narmada in Bangalore, Srinivas Kulkarni (North Karnataka), Ullal Mohan Kumar (Mangalore) and 136

Muralidhar Rao (Mysore and Mangalore) gave a sound basis for classical dance education in the state by setting up dance schools. Renowned teachers such as Bharatanatyam gurus Kitappa Pillai and Muttiah Pillai (disciples of Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai), and Kuchipudi gurus such as Korada Narasimha Rao and Nataraj Ramakrishna often stationed themselves in Bangalore and trained several dancers. Bharatanatyam dancers Revathi Sathyu, Asha Gopal, Radha Sridhar, Padmini Rao, Padmini Ramachandran, Sunanda, Usha Dattar and Bhanumathi ruled the stage in the 1960s and 1970s. Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi remained the dance forms that were well-established in the state. The mid-1980s saw a transformation, when at the invitation of the then Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, Maya Rao established the Natya Institute of Kathak & Choreography, the country’s first college of choreography, and Odissi dancer Protima Bedi built the Nrityagram dance village. Soon dance exponents had to take on the added mantle of becoming presenters and festival curators in order to attract and sustain the audience’s interest in dance. Lalitha Srinivasan, Protima Bedi, Prathibha Prahlad, Padmini Ravi and Nandini Alva inaugurated their own festivals. In the 1990s, dancers felt the need to make classical dance more accessible and began innovating with form and content within the traditional grid or framework. Notable performers like Vasundara Doraiswamy, Padmini Ravi, Prathibha Prahlad, Veena Murthy, Vyjayanti Kashi and Vani Ganapathy paved the way for the next generation of dancers like Anuradha and Sridhar, Kiran and Sandhya


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A riveting Bharatanatyam presentation


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Subramamium, Nirupama and Rajendra, Sallauddin Pasha (founder of the iconic Ability Unlimited), Prasanna Kasthuri, Sathyanarayana Raju, Dr. Sreedhara, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy and Praveen Kumar. Bangalore soon became a hub for contemporary dance styles. Dance companies like the STEM Dance Kampni, Attakalari, Nritarutya and emerging independent performers keep evolving their dance vocabulary within and 138

outside the proscenium to engage today’s audiences. Given Karnataka’s multicultural essence and its ability to absorb both the traditional and modern influences, the various avatars of dance co-exist in a harmonious balance of space and time.

MADHU NATARAJ


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DR. MAYA RAO (1928): As a teenager, Dr. Maya Rao, rebelled against social convention and gave her debut Kathak performance at the Puttana Chetty Town Hall in Bangalore before moving on to carve out a remarkable international career as a dancer and choreographer. She returned to Bangalore in the 1980s and established the Natya Institute of Kathak & Choreography, the country’s first college of choreography. Dr. Rao pioneered national performing arts festivals in Karnataka’s heritage sites and is a recipient of several national and state awards, including the ‘Shantala Prashasti’.

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

US KRISHNA RAO (1912-2005) & CHANDRABHAGA DEVI (1921-1997): The first couple of classical dance in Karnataka, US Krishna Rao and his wife Chandrabhaga Devi overcame social ostracism to pursue their passion for Bharatanatyam. Honoured with the ‘Shantala’ award, US Krishna Rao choreographed spectacular dance-dramas and wrote several influential books on the art of dance. He and his wife also understood the importance of educating others about classical dance and took it upon themselves to teach hundreds of students who would take the tradition forward.

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Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali Keremane puts on a grand show.

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K

arnataka has several operatic dance theatre forms like Byalaata, Doddaata, Sannaata and Kelike, with Yakshagana being the most prominent. With its high voltage theatrical drama, opulent costumes, scintillating music and epic performances, the dance-theatre form of Yakshagana has the power of enchanting its audiences. Through their troupe Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali Keremane, the Keremane family has, for three generations, brought to the stage this magnificent folk art that originated in Karnataka. With the idea of propagating the late Keremane Shambhu Hegde’s dedication to Yakshagana and its revival, the troupe inaugurated the Keremane Shambhu Hegde Rashtriya Natyotsava in 2010. The festival celebrates Yakshagana and other heritage art forms through demonstrations, seminars and performances. Scores of art lovers, dancers and tourists from near and far converge at Gunavante in north Karnataka, around 457 km from Bangalore, to watch and learn from the passionate artistes.

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BHOOTA KOLA

FOLK

DANCES

O

riginating in local myths, legends and rituals, folk dances have passed on from one generation to the next. While they are not codified, each folk dance has a distinct style or pattern, and varies from region to region. Folk dances have a strong religious connection, and the rituals or the occasions on which they are performed have shaped these dances. Well-known folk dancers include Hebbani Mahadevaiah, Puttamallaiah, Jagadish, Giriyapure, Mudi Mallappa, Anekal Marappa, Gouramma Maathaar, Mallavva Megeri and Sukri Bommanahalli. Strangely, in Karnataka, there is not even a single folk dance where men and women dance together. The Janapada Jatre, a festival of folk arts initiated by the state government in 2006, created a resurgence of interest in folk dances in the state. Students in schools and colleges have taken to folk dances, and troupes of traditional performers are in demand at cultural events promoted by the state government as well as private companies.

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Bhoota Kola is an ancient form of spirit worship that is prevalent in the Tulu-speaking areas of Coastal Karnataka, especially Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. Dressed in bright colours that are dominated by red, and elaborate make-up, the protagonist usually goes into a trance, and his dance is accompanied by music and songs. He is considered to become the bridge between the divine and the human, and behaves like an incarnation of the concerned spirit performing various duties of listening, solving, comforting and even warming devotees. He is considered to be the healer, a kind of medium for the community as a whole. The tradition can be traced back to the tribal origins of the region; past spirits are invoked to propitiate them and seek blessings for the community as a whole. Researchers estimate that there are over 400 bhootas which could be classified into various categories and are of diverse origin; Gods such as Vishnu and Shiva, Goddesses such as Durga and Devi, their assistants or Ganas, as well as wild animals such as cobra, boar, tiger and buffalo. These are even venerated in shrines communally and in individual homes.

HULIVESHA Traditionally performed during Navaratri, Hulivesha is a unique folk dance form to honour Goddess Sharada. It is performed by groups of men comprising four to five dancers made up as tigers, the Goddess’ favourite animal. The dancers are accompanied by three to four drummers. Typically, the group roams from village to village during the entire duration of Navaratri, performing on streets and in public places, subsisting on the money donated by onlookers. The dancers are known to perform occasionally at other times as well, such as car festivals, during Ganesha


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Bahuroopis are wandering minstrels.

immersion and other religious events that are associated with temples in the region, such that it has become a tradition. Though the tiger is the main motif, leopards and cheetahs are also common. The dress is very minimal and the dancer relies on elaborate body paint to bring the animal alive. A furry mask, headpiece to resemble ears and a tail are the other accoutrements.

BAHUROOPIS

OR

VESHADHAARIS

Across Karnataka, it is common to encounter Veshadhaaris or Bahuroopis (literally, a person donning many disguises)

though it is becoming a rare sight in the cities. Hailing from ancient tribes of North Karnataka, these people are akin to wandering minstrels. They wander around in troupes, with a couple of them wearing costumes to denote characters from the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, with Rama and Hanumantha being the overwhelming favourites. The rest of the troupe provides the music. The costumes and makeup are elaborate, but usually garish in keeping with the legacy of company theatre. The troupes usually sing together, drawing from the rich folk and devotional music tradition of Karnataka, with particular emphasis on the Veerashaiva tradition. 143


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Various folk dances of Karnataka

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LITERATURE

K

annada literature’s oral tradition is reflected in Shri Vijaya’s Kavirajamarga written in the year 850 AD where he said, “Kurithodadeyam thaavu prayoga parinatha matigala.” This implies that Kannadigas can judge a poem even as it is being recited, before it is set down in writing. The observation stemmed from his intense personal experience, and scholars consider his text Kavirajamarga as one of the ten best discursive texts. This attitude to poetry seems to carry over to modern times too, and contemporary Kannada poetry has established its uniqueness amidst panIndian poetry, with a wealth of talented poets. Kannada scribes are open to external influences and their works display constant experimentation.

EVOLUTION OF FORM - JAIN CONTRIBUTION th

The 10 century poet Pampa, a Jain who is considered the founding father of Kannada poetry, has scripted two 146

Constant experimentation has been the hallmark of the state’s literature.

compilations, Aadipurana and Vikramaarjuna Vijaya. These two texts initiated the literary traditions of Kannada in a genuine and authoritative mode. Pampa overcame the overwhelming influence of Sanskrit poetry to construct a form of poetry called champu which is unique to Kannada poetry. Though he enjoyed patronage of the royal court and the aristocracy, and did write poetry in the format prescribed by the authority, he did not hesitate to represent unpleasant truths. His contemporaries were Ranna and Ponna, among others.

VACHANAS The next decisive phase of Kannada literature was created by th the Vachanakaaras of the 12 century. The creators of the Vachana movement were pro-people activists conscious of the socio-political happenings around them. Vachana literature consists of multiple dimensions and interpretative qualities, and is a unique contribution of the Kannada language to world literature. While the vachanas had a


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religious premise and could be categorised under the sect of religious devotion (bhaktipantha), there were also rational and secular elements in them. The vachanas espoused a liberal attitude and reflected an intense preoccupation with expressiveness; they projected the driving power of the human experience aiming for union with The One. Basavanna, Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi were key figures of the Vachana movement, and their poetic creations are on par with the best literature of the world. The movement included writers such as Ambigara Chowdaiah, Jedara Rasimaiah, Erilinga Peddi and Siddharaama. A significant aspect was the rise of the Vachanakaarthis; important women authors like Akka Mahadevi, Mukthaayakka, Neelamma and Gangaambike. Amuge Rayamma, Kadike Remmavve, Soole Sankavve, Lingamma, Akkamma, Bonthaadevi, and Aaydakki Lakkamma hailed from the lower strata of the social structure, and wrote vachanas based on their deep-rooted, marginal upbringings. These Vachanakaarthis questioned gender politics and male dominant structures. In recent days, their creations have been perceived as major contributions to the feminine narratives of the nation’s literary historicity. There are also attempts to consider and categorise vachana literature as the initial stages of Dalit and feminist narrative constructs.

DASA LITERATURE The Haridasa literature that followed vachana literature did not include the intense rationalism of its predecessors, though it expressed a desire for societal changes. Purandaradasa, a Bhakti poet, is a popular literary personality, even to this day. He is considered the ‘pitamaha’ (father figure) of Carnatic classical music. The kirtanas of poet Kanakadaasa, who belonged to a lower caste, indicate the unique poetic strength and social consciousness of an awakened class and society.

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

KUMARAVYASA th

Kumaravyasa was a 14 century poet who influenced and captured the imagination of the scholar as well as the common man. His most famous work, the Karnata Bharata Kathamanjari (The Mahabharata of Karnataka) is also known as ‘Kumaravyasa Bharata’. He adapted the first ten chapters of the epic Mahabharata, writing in stanzas of six lines known as bhamini shatpadi. A telling tribute to his ability as a writer is this saying: “If Kumaravyasa sings, even kali yuga becomes dwapara yuga”, meaning that when Kumaravyasa’s Mahabharata is recited, the listener is transported to a time when the Mahabharata is believed to have taken place. This work is considered a preeminent piece of Kannada literature in which, the poet displays his mastery over the language by using sophisticated metaphors. Amongst the other poets who followed Kumaravyasa are Rathnaakaravarni, Lakshmisha, Muddanna, and Kempu Naarayana.

NAVODAYA WRITING English Geethegalu published in 1924 by the poet BM Sri is the first modern Kannada literary text. The poet had translated select poetry from English to Kannada and thus introduced the bhavageethe genre of poetry into Kannada. The Navodaya texts of Indian literature, including the likes of English Geethegalu, form the literary version of the cultural dialogue that was pitched against the colonial structures. Though the Kannada Navodaya writers came up with various genres and expressive forms like bhavageethe, short stories, novels, literary essays, criticism and more, due to the influence of the Western literature, there was an undercurrent that was specific to Kannada. Many texts created in this genre during 147


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this period have emerged as remarkable in the context of panIndian literature, such as Malegalallu Madhumagalu and Kaanuru Subbamma Heggadathi by Kuvempu, Chikkaveera Rajendra by Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, the novels of Chennabasavayya, the poetry of Da Ra Bendre, the short stories by Ananda Kanda, Ahalye and Gokula Nirgamana plays by PT Narasimhachar, and Lalitha Prabandhagalu (literary essays) by AN Murthy Rao. The Navodaya litterateurs’ standpoint was, “Influence in literature is not a matter of an inferiority complex.” They believed that the mutual creative exchanges between various art forms, including poetry, were necessary for achieving a certain all-inclusive, experiential balance. Reflecting the holistic outlook of Navodaya Kannada literature, BM Sri wrote, “I wish to clad this one in the dress of the other, and the other in this one’s and sing.” The essence of Navodaya literature included an enduring humanism, adoration of nature, immense optimism, an awakened nationalistic feeling, unceasing amazement and sincerity towards reconstructing tradition in newer modes. Arguably, the Pragathisheela movement in Kannada literature did not live for a prolonged period because of its overdramatised claims about its intentions. Yet, the writers who belonged to this period made significant contributions to Kannada literature. Some leading writers of this period are Niranjana, TR Subbarao, AN Krishna Rao or AaNaKru, and Basavaraja Kattimani.

NAVYA LITERATURE Navya literature began in the 1960s with notes by VK Gokak. It led to a series of reflections about the state of a newlyindependent India, the humanitarian concerns of the postWorld War period, and the intense clashes with modernity. This was a period of intense dialogue and experimentation in kaavya shilpa (poetic constructs with the local flavour).

Gopalakrishna Adiga, UR Ananthamurthy, P Lankesh, Poornachandra Tejaswi, Shantinatha Desai, Yashwanth Chittala, Alanahalli Krishna, Veena Shantheshwar, and Raajalaxmi N Rao were the predominant writers of this literary era. The main achievement of Kannada literary modernism, the Navya movement, is the creation of the best of the models of poetry. Gopalakrishna Adiga has been hailed as ‘the poet who opened the eyes of a generation’. It was in this era that Girish Karnad emerged as a major playwright. Samskaara, Bharathipura and Avasthe is the trilogy of novels through which its creator UR Ananthamurthy shook the psyche of Kannada readers. He has become a decisive cultural personality for the Kannada-speaking mass, as he has responded theoretically to socially relevant issues. Purnachandra Tejaswi, Kuvempu’s son, adopted a seemingly light humorous style, while reflecting upon socio-political and theoretical issues. Lankesh influenced the emotional and intellectual values of a few generations; his magazine Lankesh Patrike challenged socio-political and cultural norms.

DALIT & CONTEMPORARY The Dalit literary context not only gave voice to the marginalised society in Kannada literature, but became a part of a wider Dalit narrative. Siddalingaiah, Baraguru Ramachandrappa and Devanoor Mahadeva are some of the important writers in this context. Contemporary writers of note include DR Nagaraj, HS Shivaprakash, Jayanth Kaikini, Vivek Shanbagh, Vasudhendra, Guruprasad Kaaginele, Nemichandra, Arif Raja, Veeranna Madivalara, Nataraj Huliyaar, K Akshatha, Girish Kamathada, Shriranga, Chandrashekhara Kambara, Chandrashekar Patil, Ki Ram Nagaraj, and Vaidehi. They have empowered the Kannada literature in remarkably varying modes and layers.

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EIGHT WRITERS FROM KARNATAKA HAVE BEEN CONFERRED THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT’S HIGHEST LITERARY PRIZE, THE JNANPITH AWARD. (EDITOR’S NOTE: WHILE THESE WRITERS HAVE WON SEVERAL OTHER AWARDS, THIS LIST IS CONFINED TO THE JNANPITH AWARD)

SL BHYRAPPA (1931): SL Bhyrappa is among the top five best-selling authors in India; he writes in Kannada and his works are translated into many languages. His most popular novel, Aavarana, sold out even before its release in 2007 and created history with ten reprints within the first 5 months. A film on his novel Vamshavriksha won the Swarna Kamal, the highest award in th

Indian Cinema. Parva, a 20 century interpretation of the Mahabharata, is regarded as his magnum opus. Mandra was awarded the Saraswathi Samman, one of the highest literary awards in India, in 2010.

KV PUTTAPPA (1904 -1994):

MASTI VENKATESHA IYENGAR

KV Puttappa wrote under the name Kuvempu. He was conferred the title ‘Rashtra Kavi’ or state poet for his prolific and impressive contribution to Kannada literature that included poems, plays, novels, stories for children and translations. He was the Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University. He was honoured with the Jnanpith award for his epic Sri Ramayana Darshanam in 1967.

(1891-1986): An officer in the state’s civil service for thirty years, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar’s experiences in different parts of the state influenced his writing. He is regarded as the forefather of short stories in Kannada literature; he wrote 120 books in Kannada and 17 in English and edited a journal. His works are cited as the benchmark of literary stories for both content and style. Subbanna, his story on the life of a musician, is considered the best example of his style. He won the Jnanpith award in 1983 for his historical novel on the Kodava King Chikkaveera Rajendra. 149


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DR BENDRE (1896-1981):

SHIVARAM KARANTH (1902-1997):

VK GOKAK (1909-1992):

Da Ra Bendre wrote 30 collections of poems, plays, short stories, critiques and translations under the name Ambikatanayadatta. While his poetry maintained a strong link to the Kannada poetic traditions of folklore, vachanas and kirtanas, it had elements of the rising Navodaya revolution such as patriotism, individualism and zeal for reform. He wrote in Kannada and Marathi. He won the Jnanpith award in 1973 for his anthology of poems Naku Thanthi.

One of the most versatile and erudite scholars, Shivaram Karanth wrote novels, short stories, plays, travelogues, and essays on subjects ranging from folklore, art and sculpture to philosophy and science. He also penned biographies, translations and satires and compiled encyclopaedias. Karanth was conferred the Jnanpith award in 1977 for Mookajjiya Kanasu (Mookajji's dreams).

An academician, VK Gokak was the Vice Chancellor of Bangalore University. He wrote poems, plays, critiques and essays in Kannada and English. His writing reflected his passion for religion, culture, philosophy and education. Gokak advocated primacy to Kannada in education and administration. He won the Jnanpith award for his epic composition Bharatha Sindhu Rashmi in 1990.

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PROF. UR ANANTHAMURTHY

GIRISH KARNAD (1938): Girish

CHANDRASHEKHARA KAMBARA

(1932): A pioneer of the Navya or new movement in Kannada literature, Prof. UR Ananthamurthy is known for his bold stance on social issues and his most famous book Samskara. The book, which was also made into a critically acclaimed film, challenged the subject of caste and rituals and opened a wide-ranging debate on the prevalent cultural value system. He won the Jnanpith award in 1994 for his contribution to Kannada literature. He was the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala and the Chancellor of the Central University of Karnataka.

Karnad is one of the brightest stars in the arts scene of India, shining in every sphere of activity: he has won numerous awards as an internationally acclaimed playwright, and as an actor and director. He is hailed as an able cultural administrator and is a bold speaker on contemporary social and cultural issues. He won the Jnanpith award in 1998 for his contributions to Kannada literature and theatre.

(1937): A prolific writer, Chandrashekhara Kambara has written poems, plays, novels and short stories. He has influenced Indian theatre with his work which is a blend of folk and modern theatrical forms. He introduced the dialect of North Karnataka into Kannada language and has directed films based on his plays. He was the Founder ViceChancellor of the Kannada University in Hampi and was nominated as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council. Kambara won the Jnanpith award in 2010 for his contribution to Kannada literature.

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FINE ARTS – PAINTING & SCULPTURE SCULPTURE

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asterpieces like the Shiva Nataraja with 18 arms, the monumental Varaha, the seated Vishnu from the rock cut caves of Badami, and the majestic Mahishasura Mardini from Aihole Durga temple embody Karnataka’s heritage of folk and classical sculpture and architecture. The region’s many dynastic rulers patronised temple building, and guilds of sculptors evolved a distinctive iconography and stylistic features. The iconic stone chariot and the mantapa with musical pillars in Hampi, the narrative friezes of the Ramayana at the Hazara Rama temple, the monolithic Ugra Narasimha and the majestic Ganesha are impressive examples of the sculpture of the Hoysala period. Mahishasura Mardini at Aihole is considered a masterpiece.

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Vadhiraj D infused his creations with grace.

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A confluence of dance postures and gestures can be seen in the madanika or dancing nymphs at Belur. The master craftsman had an eye for detail and depicted feminine beauty with baroque exuberance that was intricate and sensual. The late Vadhiraj D continued the legacy of the sculptural heritage of Karnataka. He followed the shilpashastras (Hindu texts that set the rules and standards for religious iconography and sculpture), retained the period style and iconography and infused his creations with grace. Kanaka Murthy, one of the few female traditional sculptors in India, studied with Vadhiraj, and applies innovative interpretation to contemporary themes.

Kanaka Murthy with her moveable musical pillar that emits different sounds that can be heard as a raga

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A Mysore painting of ‘Girija-Kalyana’ displayed at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat.


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Yashoda-Krishna

MYSORE PAINTINGS

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his acclaimed regional painting style of Mysore is primarily of icons that originally adorned puja rooms and temples. In later days, they have become collectors’ items, and a large collection of these religious narratives with the typical gilded gold leaf adorns the interiors of the Raj Bhavan. These iconic paintings have a significant history: they

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey

Krishnarajendra Wodeyar

emerged from the Vijayanagara mural tradition and were later patronised by the local kings, Wodeyars of Mysore and Nayaks of Tanjore. Their unique characteristics are the use of gold leaf and embossing. While the Mysore style has delicate linearity and colouring with gesso decorations for jewellery, the Tanjore style is a variation with elaborate gesso work and the use of semi-precious stones. The unique glass paintings of Tanjore bear some secular themes and are fine examples of the reverse painting tradition of southern India. 155


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LANDSCAPE

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PAINTING

This genre of painting owes its origin here thanks to the peripatetic British who recorded the rich local landscape for postcards to send back home. The ‘Company school’ etchings from the colonial period depict exotic landscapes, habits of locals, and architectural edifices. The etchings are a record of the colonial gaze of the British artist who depicted Indian imagery in a new visual language of western European art. The genre of landscapes and botanical drawings is evocative of the period and place. The influence of colonial art education was predominant in fashioning popular taste, and artists were obsessed by this genre of painting. The landscapes of K Venkatappa, Rumale Channabasavaiah and N Hanumaiah resulted from the perennial artistic inspiration of the land. Artists who studied in institutions like the Chamarajendra Institute of Visual Art, Kala Mandira, Ken School and Chitrakala Parishat were tutored under the colonial influence of water-colour painting prevalent during the British. Artists from Mysore, Bangalore and other regional art centres like Gulbarga and Udupi were coming to terms with an eclectic cultural and social context, and migration of artists from the other states triggered a conscious regional Modernism.

Picturesque spots with historical monuments, water bodies, romantic rural settings, vistas of mountains and verdant greenery were ideal locations. They developed a certain style of applying colors and highlights while bold brush work and transparency were religiously maintained. Landscapes continue to be a favourite among painters like RM Hadapad and Milind Nayak.

MODERNISM

IN

KARNATAKA

Artists like GS Shenoy, SG Vasudev, Yusuf Arakkal and Balan Nambiar brought in modern concepts in their works and explored individual visual languages and various concerns through different media. In the next generation of artists, Sheela Gowda, Pushpamala, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Ravikumar Kashi, Umesh Madanahalli, Surekha and Shantamani are amongst those who explore new dimensions in visual art in the concepts of new media, installations and site-specific work. They explore medium as a metaphor in their individual capacities and concerns. Their subjects comprise urban angst: globalisation, development, identity politics, change and conflict between urban and rural, and influx of media on urban landscapes. SURESH JAYARAM

GS SHENOY (1938-1994): A water-colour artist, GS Shenoy was as renowned for his landscapes as his portraits. He explored nature-based abstraction, and his expressionistic brush strokes, vibrant colours and dramatic textures exploded onto the surface of the canvas creating rock formations, surging waters, earth and sky, capturing the flux of abundant nature. Shenoy was actively involved in getting the art scene of Karnataka the attention it merited. Among his many achievements, he was posthumously awarded the Lifetime achievement award by Lalit Kala Akademi in 1994-95. The image on the facing page is from his ‘Hampi’ series.

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The campus of Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat in Bangalore


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Established in 1865, the eye-catching Government Museum is built in the neoclassical style and hosts neolithic artefacts, sculptures and paintings from the Mysore and Tanjore kingdoms.

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K VENKATAPPA (1887-1962):

RUMALE CHANNABASAVAIAH

N HANUMAIAH (1909-1989):

K Venkatappa's talent was noticed by the Maharaja of Mysore at an early age, when he was an apprentice with his father; his family of traditional Tanjore painters was attached to the Princely Court. He honed his mastery over the years, producing remarkable landscapes in 1926; in particular, The Lake View, which is considered by many as the defining work of his career. The artist’s name lives on through his works and an art gallery named after him in Bangalore. Among his many accolades, is a prestigious fellowship conferred by the Lalit Kala Akademi.

(1910-1988): A water-colour artist and a specialist in landscapes, Rumale Channabasavaiah’s style reminds many of the strokes of Van Gogh. Leading a busy political life in his younger years with rare periods of painting, he dedicated himself to his art full-time at the age of 52. Channabasavaiah paid homage to the landscape of Bangalore through his work, immortalising on canvas the flora of the city.

Having taken up landscape painting to earn a living, N Hanumaiah honed his craft over the years. His landscapes on rural life and the illuminated cityscapes of Mysore have been lauded by art-lovers then and now. Some of his most iconic works include A Village on the Highway, Daariya Drishya and Keettanyea Pravesha and Shivanasamudrada Jalapaata. The artist was said to have a Baroque sensibility, with drama, rich colours and the play of shadows characterising his work.

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SG VASUDEV (1941): Born in

YUSUF ARAKKAL (1945): Hailing

BALAN NAMBIAR (1937):

Mysore, SG Vasudev spent his formative years in Chennai and was part of the founding group of the Cholamandalam Artists’ Village, which was his residence till 1988. He then chose Bangalore as his home. The calligraphic lines and molten colours of SG Vasudev’s works depict elemental forms with themes such as the tree of life, theatre of life, and heand-she. His paintings, tapestries and metal-embossed murals retain a connection to his preoccupation with the five elements. Recognition of his work includes accolades by the Lalit Kala Akademi.

from Chavaghad in Kerala,Yusuf Arakkal juggled a job at HAL in Bangalore for many years with his passion for art; he earned a diploma in painting from Chitrakala Parishat in 1973 along the way. Since devoting himself to art full-time in 1983, he has established himself as a figurative painter who depicts the human condition in all its subtleties. His work has explored different mediums like sculpture, murals, print making and painting. Arakkal’s list of recognitions includes the National Award in 1983; he was the youngest artist to receive it.

Contemporary sculptor Balan Nambiar draws from South India’s rich folk art and sacred symbolism and relates to the iconography of the Mother Goddess, theyyams and other native inspirations of Kerala. He works extensively with stainless steel. Nambiar also creates enamels on copper with symbolic icons. The Lalit Kala Akademi has conferred upon him the National Award for sculpture in 1981, one of many accolades he has earned.

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CRAFTS

K

arnataka holds a trove of handicrafts, with the variety and intricacies of traditional skills stretching back to an undated past. The nimble fingers and sharp eyes of adept craftsmen apply designs to items of everyday use or adornment, adding beauty to mundane life.

From inlaying elaborate designs on rosewood to making colourful toys for children, from puppets to playing cards, jewellery to carpets, woven and embroidered fabrics of silk and cotton, these creations are the outcome of weeks, sometimes months, of meticulous work.

BIDRIWARE This exotic craftwork of elegant black shimmers with silver inlay, and is refreshingly cool to touch. It is made from an alloy of zinc and copper and follows a time-honoured tradition of being used in creating showpieces, platters, paan boxes, goblets, hookahs, trays, bangles, earrings and pendants. Floral and geometric patterns are created on the black matte surface – with popular designs being ashrafi-ki-booti, stars, vine-creepers, stylised poppy plants with flowers, Persian rose and verses from the Quran. The craft is traced to artisans from ancient Persia who came to India th th in the 12 to 14 centuries, and were patronised by the Bahmani kings (1347-1527 AD). Though Bidriware is also made in a few other parts of the country (like Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, Purnia in Bihar, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Murshidabad in West Bengal), the craft is uniquely identified with Bidar district and has been given the GI tag. Soil from the dark unlit recesses of the old Bidar fort is deemed most suitable for making the artefacts, and till date, artisans use the oldfashioned way of testing the quality of the soil by tasting it. Silver inlay makes Bidriware shimmer.

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GANJIFA This is a more complex card game than Bridge, and is played with circular, hand-made cards, painted with vegetable colours and coated with lac. In the past, the cards were lavish, and were inlaid with precious stones, ivory or tortoise shells. In later days, they began to be replicated on wood, palm leaf, paste board leather and cloth. A Persian practice that faded out there, Ganjifa has become known as the playing cards of India and is inextricably linked to Mysore, thanks to the King’s penchant for board games. Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (17941868 AD) spent hours not only playing several board games, but also writing about them, and invented many variations.While the early cards featured Mughal art motifs, like ghulam (servant), taj (crown), shamser (sword) and ashrafi (gold coin), it went through variations in different regions.The most popular and extant designs are the Dashavatara Ganjifa that depict the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, and the chad cards of Mysore.

King Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar invented variations of playing Ganjifa.

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Kasuti embroidery has woven its way into modern uses.

KASUTI

EMBROIDERY th

Originating in the 6 century during the Chalukya era, Kasuti is traditional hand embroidery and found patronage in the royal courts. The Lambanis, who wandered from Rajasthan to this state, are also attributed to have carried this skill with them. The needlecraft was so highly prized that women courtiers of the Mysore court were supposed to have mastered it. Traditionally, a single thread was used for an entire work of embroidery. Geometric patterns, images of chariots, monuments, flora and fauna, and rangoli patterns in bright shades of red, green, yellow and purple enrich cotton and silk drapes. Stitches like gavanthi (double running stitch), murgi (zigzag running stitch), negi (running stitch) and menthya (cross stitch) make them unique. Initially, Kasuti work was applied to drapes and primarily meant for religious purposes. It was also used to decorate saris and blouses, but has now found its way into modern clothes with contemporary cross stitches. In Dharwad, one can recognise prize cattle from the Kasuti embroidered cloth on their backs, which their owners have rewarded them with for their meritorious service.The Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation (KHDC) holds a GI tag protection for Kasuti embroidery. 164


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The craft of weaving Ilkal cottons dates back to the 8th century.

ILKAL

COTTON

Resplendent colours of pomegranate red, peacock green and parrot green are the distinguishing features of the eponymous th saris from Ilkal, in Bagalkot district.The craft of weaving here is believed to have originated in the 8 century. Ilkal cotton saris are differentiated by the silk warp on the pallus and the borders. The latter have traditional designs like chikki, gomi, jari, gadidadi and gayathri. Bridal saris are created in giri kumkum - a colour associated with the sindhoor worn by the wives of priests in the region. The Topi Teni is another creation where the border and the sari warp are prepared separately and then combined in loops. In some weaves, Kasuti embroidery reflects intricate patterns of palanquins, elephants and lotuses. While llkal cottons are best known in and around the place of their origin, they have left an indelible mark across Karnataka and have now become popular in the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Ilkal saris have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

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KINHAL

THE ARTS

CRAFT

The little town of Kinhal, in Koppal district, attains its fame from the traditional wooden craft that has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The most famous examples of this work are the famous mural paintings of the Pampapateshwara temple and the wooden chariot in the town of Hampi, a throwback to the Vijayanagara era. The chitragarhs (artists) use light wood in making the toys, which primarily depicted people in various occupations. Of late, it has extended into figures of birds and animals. The paste used in joining the parts and ornaments is made from a mixture of tamarind seeds and pebbles, and has remained unchanged through the ages. The popularity and uniqueness of these toys stem from their realistic features and fine design and chiseling. Clay toys and images are also made during festivals, using cow dung and saw dust.In 2007, students from the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow School of Art, along with the Crafts Council of Karnataka and local students and artisans, started a project to revive the craft.

Kinhal craft used to depict people in various occupations.

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LEATHER PUPPETRY Togalu Gombeyaata, as it is popularly known in local parlance, is a puppet show unique to the nomadic Killekyatha community. It is also called Gombe Ramaru, Sillekyataru or Katabaru in different parts of the state. Vegetable dyes and oils are used to colour the puppets, with the most prominent shades being red, blue, green and black. The puppets are attached to bamboo sticks and their sizes could vary from a mere two feet, to an almost life-sized one of five feet. This craft was introduced in the th 15 century to enable people to understand and appreciate historical and mythological tales and their morals. Traditional and folk songs, accompanied by instruments, add to the animation and drama of the show. The puppets are made of leather and represent kings, queens, gods, demons, soldiers and commoners, as well as animal figures. In the earlier days, they mostly represented mythological characters from history and the epics. With the passage of time, popular figures have been included and social and community themes are enacted.

Togalu Gombeyaata is a one-of-its-kind puppet show.

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ROSEWOOD

INLAY

The elaborate work of rosewood inlay th originated in the 17 century in the Old Mysore region. In the early years, it involved the task of inlaying rosewood with ivory or deer horns to create exquisite masterpieces of art. In modern times, ivory has been substituted with acrylic, shells or plastic. The inlay woodwork concentrates on geometric patterns, landscapes, pastoral scenes, processions and scenes from the epics. The work is painstaking and arduous. Rosewood inlay is seen at its best on doors, chests, mirrors, coffee tables, partition screens, cupboards, cabinets and dining tables. It finds pride of place in showcases and on tables in the form of plates, bowls, cigarette cases, boxes with intricate work and figures of animals, especially elephants. The mausoleum at Srirangapatna and the doors of the Amba Vilas Palace in Mysore are prime examples of this craft. The craft of rosewood inlay is arduous.

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CHANNAPATNA TOYS & DOLLS The ‘Gombegala Ooru’ or toy town of Channapatna is located on the Bangalore-Mysore highway and earns its fame from the handcrafted toys and artifacts unique to this town. The craft is believed to have originated in Persia and came here when Tipu Sultan invited artisans to display their skills and pass them on to the local populace. A variety of wooden dolls and toys for children are characteristic products of this town. Over the years, artisans have diversified to make show pieces and household articles. Ivory wood was initially used, occasionally combined with rosewood and sandalwood. Changing times necessitated substitution of rubber, sycamore, cedar, pine and teak. The eco-friendly use of vegetable colours and their simplicity keep their demand alive even in the modern toy market. The uniqueness and limited operational sphere of this traditional craft has earned it the Geographical Indication (GI) tag under the World Trade Organisation.

Channapatna is known for colourful toys and artefacts.

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MYSORE

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SILK

Mysore silk is delicately woven from the finest mulberry silk, giving each piece a distinct texture and elegance. Soft and lustrous, the saris made of Mysore silk are especially passed on as heirlooms from generation to generation. Mysore silk is a GI protected item and the region has a long and distinguished connection with the silk industry. Mulberry-fed silk worms of Karnataka produce high quality, robust and durable yarn. The cocoon produced by each silk worm yields approximately 600 m of silk. The initiation and creation of the outstanding silk is attributed to Tipu Sultan (1782-1799 AD), who encouraged it to boost the economy of the region. Its regular production is attributed to the Maharaja of Mysore Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV who started a silk factory in 1912, to embellish the wardrobes of the royals. The factory is currently managed by the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation. The jari or gold thread woven into the saris, has a silver content of 65 percent and a gold content of 6.5 percent. In addition to traditional saris, the factory also produces scented and water-resistant saris, shirts, scarves, ties and fabric. Mysore silk saris are often passed on as heirlooms.

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The pallus of Molakalmuru saris sport beautiful designs.

MOLAKALMURU

SARIS

Molakalmuru is a small town in Chitradurga district of Karnataka and the name means broken knees; the rocky terrain of the region apparently brought about the downfall of many unsuspecting enemy soldiers in the past. History of a different kind, however, now distinguishes this town. Its traditional, hand-woven silk saris bear the GI tag. Crafted with great care on three shuttle looms, they were the objects of admiration of Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wodeyar during his visit in 1914. Floral designs and pictures of animals, birds and fruits adorn the pallus of these saris. A specialty sari is the one with a peacock border and woven from pure mulberry silk. Another unique design is the abstract temple border, where the body interlocks with the border in the form of temple motifs. Saris with such complex designs take 40 days to weave.

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Ancient wall paintings inspire Navalgund dhurries.

NAVALGUND

DHURRIES

Families of weavers in Navalgund town of Dharwad district hold the secrets of these colourful floor spreads, spun on traditional looms. The creation of Navalgund dhurries is an art handed down from generation to generation. Originally made from wool, the rising costs of raw material have led to the transition to cotton. Inspiration for Navalgund dhurries seems to have stemmed from the wall paintings of yore. Lustrous stripes, colourful geometric patterns and floral designs on cotton cloth are the hallmark of these floor spreads. A specialty carpet is made of strips of nine inches joined together. There are also dhurries made exclusively for festive occasions.

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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 7

Flavours of Karnataka

Variety is indeed the spice of life, and of food. Across the expanse of close to 192,000 square km, the cuisine in Karnataka changes every 100 km and, influenced by local communities, flavours vary from region to region. In the south of the state and the coastal areas, rice rules in the kitchens. In the north, it is roti (flat bread) made of jowar (millet). Kannadigas in the east love fiery red chillies; in the west, they adore creamy coconuts.

Kosambri and bisibelebhath are standard fare in South Karnataka; the Vokkaliga community enjoys its ragi mudde and saaru.


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I

n the south of Karnataka, the fare consists of salads called kosambris (soaked lentils mixed with chopped fresh vegetables like cucumber and carrot), palyas (a preparation of vegetables), gojju (a tamarind-based accompaniment), and protein-laden gravies like tovve, huli and kootu (Kannadiga versions of sambhar).

Served with a variety of pickles of mango, lime or vegetables, they are traditionally accompanied by plain rice or the legendary bisibelebhath (rice cooked with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lentils and seasoning), vangi bhath (rice mixed with seasoned eggplant), puliogare (tamarind seasoned rice) and huggi (rice and lentil cooked with a heady dose of fresh pepper). A traditional meal is best savoured on a green plantain leaf. The staple of the Vokkaliga community is the energy-packed ragi mudde (balls made of finger millet flour) with soppina saaru (a gravy of leafy greens) or chicken or mutton saaru. The vegetarian cuisine from the temple town of Udupi has become synonymous with idli-dose the world over, but the coastal districts of Uttara and Dakshina Kannada are renowned for other unique dishes. The Tulu-speaking Bunt community’s signature dish is the kori rotti, or rice flakes dipped in gravy which would usually be the bangude pulimunchi (mackerel curry), or the kori gassi (a chicken dish that is cooked with red chillies, coconut milk and curry leaves). Light-as-lace neer dosas (rice pancakes), patrode (colocasia leaves stuffed with spices and jaggery) and kadubu

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(steamed or fried pastry) are the specialty fare. The Konkani community is fond of cashews in their dry vegetable dishes or upkaris. Coastal cooking, generically referred to as Mangalorean fare, has a variety of fish and seafood curries, cooked with freshly ground coconut paste, chillies and piercingly sour tamarind or kokum. For the Catholics, a repast is dull fare indeed without fluffy steamed sannas (steamed rice cake) with pork bafat, sorpotel or fish curries. The hearty fare of North Karnataka, dominated by the Lingayat community, is endowed with fresh vegetables, peanuts and garlic. The staple fare is jolada (jowar) roti with a dollop of white butter, yenne badanekayi (brinjal curry) and soppina palya (greens curry). In the hilly district of Coorg, the cuisine is rich in flavours of pepper, cardamom and meat. Pandi (pork) curry, kadambuttu (rice dumplings), akki rotti (rice rotis), bembala (bamboo shoots) curry and nool puttu are Kodava favourites. To satiate the sweet tooth, there are confections of all types – from the ghee-soaked golden Mysore pak to the subtler Dharwad peda; from the banana halwa and cashew macaroons from Mangalore to the sakkere pongal (sweet pongal) and chiroti (a largish puff pastry served with badam milk and powdered sugar) from South Karnataka. A festive repast would be incomplete without a variety of payasas (kheer or milk pudding) and the holige or obbattu (flatbread sweet stuffed with jaggery and coconut or lentils).


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Jolada rotti and yenne badanekayi are popular in North Karnataka.

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Kane rawa fry and patrode are dished out along the coast of Karnataka.

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Neer dosa and kori rotti are the specialties of the Bunt community.


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Pandi kari, nool puttu and kadambuttu are savoured in Kodava cuisine. (Location courtesy: Karavalli, The Taj Gateway, Bangalore)

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UNIQUE

PRODUCTS

&

FLAVOURS OF KARNATAKA

PRODUCE

K

arnataka has the proud position of being bestowed the GI tag for several of its produce and products. A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to their specific geographical location or origin. India is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, which came into effect from 2003.

MYSORE

LIST OF GI PRODUCE

Coorg orange Mysore betel leaf Nanjangud banana Mysore jasmine Udupi jasmine Hadagali jasmine Monsooned Arabica coffee

SANDALWOOD OIL & MYSORE SANDAL SOAP

Sandalwood is a hemiparasite, and 60 percent of India’s sandalwood oil is produced in Mysore. Production began in 1916 at the Government Sandalwood Oil factory that was established by the Maharaja of Mysore, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, and Diwan Sir M Visvesvaraya at Mysore. It claims to be the world’s best natural sandalwood oil.

Coorg green cardamom

Mysore Sandal Soap is the only soap in the world made from 100 percent pure sandalwood oil. This brand is manufactured by the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL), which owns the proprietary Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The soap was originally made at the Government Soap Factory set up in 1916. KSDL was incorporated as a company by merging the Government Soap Factory with the sandal oil factories at Shimoga and Mysore. Devanahalli pomello

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Monsooned robusta coffee Coorg green cardamom Dharwad peda Devanahalli pomello Appemidi mango Kamalapur red banana Byadgi chilli Udupi mattu gulla brinjal


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Dharwad peda

Mysore betel leaf

Mysore Agarbatti

Nanjangud banana

Mysore Sandalwood Oil

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Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey CHAPTER 8

Memorable Moments (2010-2013)

The serene premises and hospitality of the Raj Bhavan have been appreciated by many illustrious guests, from national leaders of India to heads of state of other countries. Besides being the location for meetings of immense business and political significance for Karnataka, the Raj Bhavan, at the initiative of the Governor, also hosts cultural events that celebrate the great heritage of this state. Dignitaries are given a grand welcome at the Raj Bhavan.


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His Excellency Dr. HR Bhardwaj with the Honourable President of India Pranab Mukherjee

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With the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh

With the Honourable Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari

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With Patrick Suckling, Australian High Commissioner

With Martin Zeil, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs (bottom row, second from left) and his delegation

With Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

With Viljar Lubi, Ambassador of Estonia

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With Dr. Guido Westerwelle, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Federal Republic Of Germany

With Doulat Kuanyshev, Ambassador, Republic of Kazakhstan

With Borut Pahor, President and former Prime Minister of Slovenia

With MV Sisulu, Speaker of National Assembly of South Africa

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With Emomali Rahmon, President of Republic of Tajikistan

With Sir Gerald Howarth, Minister for International Security Strategy, UK

With Janice K Brewer, Governor of Arizona, USA

President Truong Tan Sang, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and his delegation

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With the Board of Governors of Peking University, China

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His Excellency Dr. HR Bhardwaj releases ‘The Raj Bhavan Karnataka Through The Ages’, seen here with Sandhya Mendonca, Editor & Publisher, Professor Sandeep Shastri and Krishna Rao, IAS, then Principal Secretary to the Governor.

From left to right: A Maruthi, Chief Security Officer; BS Ramaprasad, IAS, Secretary to the Governor; Squadron Leader Vivek Sarpal, ADC to the Governor; Dr. HR Bhardwaj, His Excellency, the Governor of Karnataka; VS Prabhakar, ADC to the Governor; MP Tiwari, Private Secretary to the Governor; and AM Badiger, Manager (Household)

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MEMORABLE MOMENTS

Scenes from ‘Gopikonmaada’, a classical dance ballet staged at the Raj Bhavan


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EXPERT PANEL Naresh Narasimhan is an architect, urbanist, activist and heads the award-winning architecture firm Venkataramanan Associates.

Prakash Belawadi writes, directs and, occasionally, acts in plays, films and TV shows, in English and Kannada. He has been a journalist and writes a regular column on culture and politics. He is a co-founder of Centre of Film and Drama at Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy.

MK Raghavendra is a film scholar, author and a foundereditor of Phalanx, a web journal dedicated to debate. He has received the National Award (the Swarna Kamal) for best film critic.

Sreenivas G Kappanna has been the Chairman of the Karnataka Nataka Akademi, and conferred the National Sangeet Natak Akademi award by the President of India. He is a master of stage lighting, stage design, play production, presentation of folk and classical forms among others.

Suresh Jayaram is a visual artist, art historian and the founder-director of the studio and gallery, 1 Shanthi Road.

Madhu Nataraj is a Kathak and contemporary dancer, choreographer, educator and arts entrepreneur. She has received the ‘Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar’ from the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, Government of India, for her contribution to the field of creative dance.

Vikram Sampath has received the Sahitya Akademi’s ‘Yuva Puraskar’ in the English category and the ARSC International Award for Excellence in Historical Research in New York. He is a trained Carnatic classical vocalist, the founder of the Archive of Indian Music and a founderdirector of the Bangalore Literature Festival.

Dr. MS Asha Devi is a professor and teaches at first grade colleges. She writes on gender issues in literary, cultural and socio-political contexts. She has edited text books for Bangalore and Kuvempu universities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: A Handbook of Karnataka, Karnataka Gazetteer department The Raj Bhavan Karnataka Through The Ages, Raintree Media Karnataka - A Garden of Architecture, Directorate of Archaeology & Museums www.asi.nic.in (Archaeological Survey of India) Wikipedia www.karnatakatourism.org 192


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CREDITS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Sandhya Mendonca EDITORIAL: Arati Rao, Anita Rao Kashi, Capt. Seshadri Sreenivasan, Subhalakshmi Roy, Raghunandan, Aditya Mendonca DESIGN: Mishta Roy PROCESSING: Ajay Shah, Pankaj Patil (ProArt Studios) PHOTOGRAPHY: Dinesh Shukla of front cover featuring dancer Priyanka Mysore at Chennakesava temple, Belur, & other major monuments PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY: Asha Thadani, Jagdish Babu DK, Kashif Masood MOST PORTRAITS: KG Somsekhar ADDITIONAL PHOTOS: Mohan Raghavan, Praveen J Raj, William GK, Netra Raju, Antony Anjee, Prateek Mukund, Pradeep Kumbhashi, Anil HT, Dinesh Maneer, Premnath S Kudva, KS Rajaram, Anita Rao Kashi, Seemantini Mihir, Avijit Chakraborty, Sharath Deshpande, S Badri Narayanan, Anthony Samson PHOTOS COURTESY ALSO TO: Department of Kannada & Culture, Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, Manipal Ganjifa Gallery, Shankaraa Foundation, Wikimedia Commons, Gurudas Shenoy Raintree Media acknowledges the help of BK Saroja, Shashi Baliga, Prathibha Prahlad, Mythrai Shetty, Mamatha Gowda, HA Anil Kumar, Naren Thimmaiah, Prakruthi N Banwasi, Rajagopal V, Dr. MB Krishna, Harish Bhat, Crafts Council of Karnataka, Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd.

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Karnataka - A Cultural Odyssey  

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey takes readers on a journey through the architecture, faith, festivals, art forms, and culinary delights of th...

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