Dasara walk- A glimpse in to History and Culture

The streets in the city are full of dolls this Dasara. They are innovative not to mention beautiful. The dolls are varied- while some are figures of gods and goddesses, some depict rural life, animals, birds…. Head to the city’s markets and you will be spoilt for choices. 

It is not just the streets. The temples too are part of this grand celebrations lasting 10 days till Vijayadashami. The idols inside the temple are decorated with full splendor. The goddess dons her different manifestations -Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandra Ghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kalaratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri  representing the Navadurga of the Navaratri celebrations.


She is decorated with flowers,fruits and even vegetables. Devotees string such garlands and they get offered to the goddess.

Vendors take full advantage of such situation and set up stalls outside the streets and generate a good business. Some of them come as far as Bijapur and sell their specialty snacks.


Traditions get revived too. This Dasara some homes have opened their doors to strangers so that the culture of gombe habba is understood and hopefully preserved. One of the homes in Malleshwaram that has been doing this ritual for 20 odd years explained their traditions to us.

‘ The mud dolls are carefully unwrapped from their majestic trunks 10 days prior to Dasara. We pray to the Raja-Rani gombe and then lay out all the dolls. We make sure that we do not displace the dolls after this ritual and dismantle all the dolls, only after we put the Raja-Rani dolls to sleep on the last day. ‘

Sweetmeats and snacks are generously served to us along with strong cup of coffee and we depart to see some more displays.

As you wander down the streets you notice one common feature of this festival- the colors-deep red,blue green,orange. The colors are embedded in the rangolis, the flowers used for decorations not to mention the  stalls displaying the dolls. There is a festive buzz and if you wish to be a part of this celebration join us this week and the next for a delightful Dasara Walk.


Ganesha in Pete

The streets of the Pete wears a festive look. Colourful pandals are seen in the narrow lanes of Cubbonpete, Chikpete, RT street etc. and in the main roads of Avenue Road and OTC Road. The 500 year old Pete is always bustling with energy and even more so during the festivities. This Ganesh Chaturthi – the elephant headed God is in various forms at the Pete. At the weaving lanes of Cubbon Pete he shows off an all pervading self as Vishwa Roopa Ganapati, in a narrow bylane of Avenue Road he is as Sai Baba, in some he is immersed playing musical instruments.

The numerous groups at Pete- the Vinayaka group, Vidya Ganesh group, Ganesh group etc. have competed with each other to give their best. Some of the pandals are basic with excited children performing the aarati and distributing kesari bath while some are opulent with huge idols of Ganesh and engaging the services of priests to perform the religious ceremonies. Decorative lights, music and loudspeakers are found in most of the pandals.

The shutters of most of the shops are down. Most of the trading communities- Gujaratis,Marwaris,Devangas families are busy at the pandal ,participating in Chaturthi festivities full of vigour, immersed in prayers and distributing sweets.

The streets of Pete is full of temples for various communities. So there is an air of celebration in every street. The sweetmeat shops and the flower markets are making brisk business amidst the gaiety.

The celebrations will continue till the weekend and will then be taken out in processions to be immersed in designated venues. Join us this weekend as we show you this side of Pete.



Entrenched exhibition at National Military Memorial

A quote from a fifth grade social book says, ‘ World War I broke out in 1914. Lakhs of Indians fought with British Army. Thousands were killed’ This seems to summarize India’s contribution to the war.

However a visit to the ‘Entrenched’ exhibition by Rereeti – an NGO that revitalizes museums gave a different perspective to the war situation of 1914. There were some interesting insights.

At Memorial

India’s contribution to WWI:

A report on BBC mentioned that there were 1.3 million soldiers fighting in the war. Indian fought alongside the British in countries such as Germany, Africa,Egypt.. More than 70000 Indian soldiers were killed, nearly 65000 were wounded. Not just soldiers, India also loaned two million cash to Britain, ammunition,food, cloth etc. The soldiers bore the cold, fought in the trenches of Europe, suffered the poisonous gas and were killed in thousands. At Ypres they were the first to stop Germans from advancing further. Letters retrieved then showcase the hardships faced by these unknown Indian soldiers in foreign soil. While some letters written by soldiers to their relatives describe the horrors of war and discourage their friends and family from enlisting in the army, some  are painful -reminiscing of open skies and wind swept fields back home.

details of regiments fought in different wars at Memorial

The exhibition portrays this information sensitively via maps/charts and in the form of insightful dialogues between a grandson and his grandfather. The Indian troops won  around 13000 medals and 12 of the soldiers also won the Victoria cross. All these details are depicted here.

Mysore’s contribution to war:

The Mysore State too contributed its share. It loaned nearly one crore, contributed more than 90 lakhs and supplied materials,ammunition and transport. The Mysore Corps sent mules, ponies. The Mysore lancers fought the battle of Haifa at Israel and also at other places like Egypt,Gaza, Suez canal etc. Along with Jodhpur regiment they overthrew the long lasting Ottoman rule in Israel. The exhibition not only sheds light on some of these contributions but also throws light on war memorials in the city – Sapper Memorial, cenotaph, Tipperary at St John’s etc.

Apart from photos and boards there are also tunnels simulating a trench like experience of the battle field. The NGO has partnered with three schools across the city  to make the event interactive.

On the whole the event at National Military memorial at Raj Bhavan is a very enriching experience and a must do  this weekend.




Janmashtami Cultural Walk

Yesterday a motley group of people assembled at Iskcon Temple,Bangalore to explore Janmashtami celebrations in the city.  A quick tour of Iskcon gave a glimpse of Gaudiya Vaishnavism  and Iskcon’s Hare Krishna movement.  The chanting of ‘Hare Krishna and Hare Ram’ , the soulful bhajans at the Radha Krishna temple, the glittering idols amidst colorful fragrant flowers, the flickering brass lamps added a divine touch to the cultural walk.

Then began a tour of homes that usher in Krishna’s birthday in style. Our first stop over at a traditional Tamil home gave us a glimpse of Iyengar traditions. The walkers were welcomed with a smile and served with delicious usili and sweets.

They heard the stories of Krishna’s midnight birth and his adventures. The cradles all decked up with fruits and savories looked delightful- after all baby Krishna was arriving.

Numerous krishna idols- some depicting Laddu Gopal, Krishna the musician playing the divine flute or the lover boy performing Raas Leeela with his numerous gopis-milkmaids and Radha – heritage displayed with pride at owner’s home.

The tour  showed a different aspect of celebrations at each home. While some lovingly enticed Krishna with sweetmeats and snacks, some brought him alive printing Krishna’s naughty footprints on the house floor.

The Indian hospitality was in full flow – the walkers went home with a smile laden with gifts and sweetmeats.



Treasures in an Antique Store

A visit to an antique store is akin to a virtual journey back in to the past. The antiques are like treasures ushering you back to childhood or to some medieval period where making intricate sculpture designs was a piece of cake. The brass,bronze figurines, wooden toys, collectibles and records  at such stores with their rustic charms have a story to tell and are important pieces of history as well.  A similar experience awaited me last week when I popped in at Balaji Antique Store at Avenue Road.

The neatly stacked tin trunks,the compact jewelry and medicine boxes, the row of porcelain dolls brought back memories of childhood. You see my grandfather had a heavy trunk kept in one of his numerous rooms. Stacks of fold able beds were kept on top of it. And when guests came, the beds were removed one by one. I could now get my hands on the trunk and it was a secret delight to pry open its lid,peek inside  and check out the pretty China head dolls, old chinaware, medicine chests etc.

The China head dolls were my favorite. The antique dolls were made during the period 1836-1940 by German Companies. The nicest thing about them –  some of them had painted hair and  movable arms. These china dolls are dated according to their hairstyle, say if it had a center parted hairstyle, it was probably from 1830 and if it had long curls at sides, it would reflect 1840 and if it had headband it would be 1860 and so on.

Next my eyes fell on vintage Air India Maharaja Statue. The Maharaja was created in 1946 by commercial director Bobby Kooka and Umesh Rao , an artist. The Maharaja was the mascot of Air India at a time when air travel was considered luxury travel- a symbol of high living. The Maharaja traveled all over the world rescuing damsels, wrestling, being a monk, an artist etc- in other words living fully and reaching out from all parts of the world. Today the image has changed-the Raja has a leaner, sportier look.

Murphy Radios with its dials and knobs next caught my attention. Founded in 1929 Murphy Radios was a British Manufacturer of radio sets that used to supply to the British Army as well. One of their important contributions was the wireless set No -38- a transceiver used during world war -II.

Apart from spy cameras, radios and gramophones, vintage Brass lamps and bronze figurines fill nooks and corners of the store. They are ancient, rustic yet charming and I wonder which is older- Brass or Bronze. ‘ Bronze items are older perhaps from 8-9th century’,  explains Balaji , the owner when asked. Brass, an alloy of Copper is more malleable.

The lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma are displayed on the walls. The art of Ravi Varma was not restricted to Kings. He did paint for the royalty- Kings of Mysore and Baroda were some of his patrons but he established a lithographic press in 1894 and made his paintings accessible to all. From posters to calendars and frames his paintings got widely circulated. However this resulted in  his art being copied as well by artisans from various parts in the country.

Apart from these items there are collection of watches, cameras, wooden furniture, bronze artifacts,old film posters in its three rooms. All of them overflow with antiques and are a delightful way of spending your mornings or afternoons. The owner Balaji is a treasure trove of information and will regale you with delightful nuggets of information.


208th Flower show at Lalbagh

This year on the eve of Independence day celebrations, Lalbagh’s  floral displays is paying tribute to Indian Armed forces and the Kannada Film Industry that has spent 85 glorious years in the State making memorable films.

The Glass House at Lalbagh is a splash of colors from both exotic and local flowers- Cockscomb, Celosia,Dahlia,Roses,Geranium etc to name a few.

Apart from the regular displays there is significant information about the Armed forces.

The display boards, the models of PSLV, fighter jets,missiles, aims to impress.

There are plenty of facts about the Army,Navy and the Air Force -the wars fought, the list of gallantry awards like Param Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra,Kirti Chakra, Asoka Chakra awarded to these men besides other details like names of Chiefs, of Field Marshal Kariappa and General Thimayya both of whom worked for British Indian Empire and were part of Rajput regiment and Kumaon regiments respectively.

Apart from this there are also displays of Film Industry like reel, cameras etc. The 45 ft long reel is said to have been prepared with 15,000 roses while the camera more than 7000.

The Flower Show is on till August 15. The tickets cost around 70 Rupees for adults while children get to see the displays for Rupees 20. There are quite a few stalls put up too that sell saplings, handcrafts. A small exhibition from the Horticultural department is quite useful showcasing the drip irrigation systems for farming.

If you would like to check out the Flower Show join us on our Heritage Walk.


Mangoes in the city

Mangoes are plenty in the city this year, some artificially ripened and some natural. One of the best ways to purchase natural mangoes is to opt for mela,exhibitions conducted by Horticultural departments and farms. Quite recently the Hesarghatta farm had displayed a wide variety of mangoes and jackfruits all organic and natural. And now Lalbagh Horticultural department has done the same- providing a wide platform for farmers from Dodaballapur, Chintamni – all nearby villages to sell their wares. In our Lalbagh walk this week we had glimpse of some of them. And my, weren’t they delicious. Here are some famous varieties available in Bangalore this season.


Named after a portugese  -Afonso de Albuquerque, this yellowish mango is most sought after for its fleshy pulp and thickness. Considered one of the most expensive fruits, it has got the distinction of getting a GI tag too. Devag and Sindhudurg Alphonso from Maharashtra have bagged this credit. The Badami variety is a local version of the same.


This is a hybrid mango variety, has a bright yellow color and is delicious sweet variety of mango. It is obtained from two varieties Neelam and Dasheri.


Grown in and around Bangalore, this reddish yellow fruit is one of the first varieties of mangoes to arrive in the city. Quite juicy in nature it is also named as sweet mango.

Imam Pasand:

The sweet, yellowish fruit with a very soft skin has a huge following. It is quite expensive too. Its other name is Himayat and it has very short season May-June.Some say it was the favorite of Humayun and so the name perhaps was Humayun Pasand.


This bright yellow fruit  is pretty inexpensive compared to its counterparts. Though less fleshy, its aromatic flavor can pull you from anywhere. The fruit comes to the city from Kolar.


A heavy fruit, this variety is quite popular in the State. Named the Alphonso of the South, it is fleshy and sweet and has been transplanted to other countries like Florida.


Also known as honey mangoes due to its taste, it is one mango which is easily recognized thanks to its pleasing rose and green colors. These mangoes however do not last long and needs to be consumed within 2-3 days of purchase.

There are others like Banganapalli from Andhra Pradesh, Kesar from Gujarat, Dasheri from UP, Haryana etc that have found loyal following in the city. With so much varieties you would have thought that the mela would see a huge gathering. However the farmers whom I spoke gave me a different picture. ‘This time the demand for mangoes is less. The season was delayed, perhaps that is why the less demand,’ lamented a farm lady. ‘ I have even reduced the prices from 150 to 100 for Imam Pasand,’ she added.  The same was true for jackfruits. I saw plenty lying rotten. ‘ No demand madam, we cannot help but let the fruits rot’, said a young man.

Ah, well may be the Nipah scare has gotten in to people. But  for me it didn’t matter though. I got some juicy Alphonso and Sindura at half the rate and left for home.