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.

–Usha

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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.

–Usha

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.

Alphonso:

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.

Mallika:

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.

Raspuri:

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.

Neelam:

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.

Malgoa:

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.

Sindura:

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.

–Usha

A glimpse of South Kanara Temples

South Kanara is scattered with temples some 5000 of them infact. You cannot escape one even if you want to. You head to the seashore and along with the roars of waves you will hear the clang of temple bells somewhere in the distance.

Photo Source:hpkodancha

You trek a hill and lo you will notice a small structure- a mantapa of sorts and an idol inside. You go on a shopping spree but you cannot help but see a shrine tucked in one of the saree by-lanes. So I have given up and instead I have started focusing on what type of temples these are whenever I have visited Dakshina Kannada.

The temples of South Kanara look modern on the outside yet they are very much ancient some dating back to 6th century and even earlier. Just take a look at the inner sanctum , the Mukha Mantapa, the ornamental balustrades leading to the sanctum and you will know what I am talking about. The temples, be it atop a hill or on a highway confirm to certain structural parameters. They are either square,circular or rectangular. The Jain temple which South Kanara is famous for are generally of granite, located amidst scenic locations-top of hills, amidst greenery ….

So a question arises, why so many temples and Jain Basadis here in the land of Tuluvas or Tulu speaking community? The answer in part lies with the rulers who ruled this part of the country from ancient to modern times. The temples had great patronage of kings be it Alupas,Vijayanagara Kings, Keladi Nayakas or local rulers like Chautas, Bangas,Bhairarasas,Ballalas and Heggades ruling South Kanara.

Presence of Jains:

Jainism especially had strong presence especially in 10-11th century as it was having support of Bhairarasas of Karkala and Chautas of Moodbidri. The Gomata structure at Karkala for instance was installed in 1432 by a Bhairarasas king- Veerapandyadeva. The 1000 pillar Basadi in Moodbidri was built in phases and its first phase was constructed by Chautas of Moodbidri and Ballalas in 1429.

Chaturmukha Basadi

Photo Source: By Anoopratnaker [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Hindu Temple Architecture:

The Hindu temples too are plenty.  The worship of Mahishasuramardini,Krishna, Janardana,Mahalinga and Ganesha is quite common here. South Kanara temples are generally surrounded by a big compound or Prakara made of Laterite bricks- these bricks abound in plenty.  Inside the temple you will notice a Balipeeta and Dwaja Sthamba-a flag mast made of wood,covered with copper plates. You will also see a Mukha Mantapa- a hall at the entrance, then a Navaranga and then the inner sanctum. Most often rectangular temples do not boast of an inner parikrama passage while Square temples do not have Mukha Mantapa. Shiva temples on the other hand are most often circular temples.

Udupi Temple

Photo Source:

The rooftops of temples are generally thatched in villages. In some places they are covered by stone slabs and in some places they are covered by copper plates. They are generally sloped to protect against heavy rains that are quite common in the coastal areas. And chariots are generally present as every temples celebrates its annual procession and its fair in style.

Faith and Hope:

These structures are just not temples alone. They are part and parcel of South Kanara heritage and culture. Festivities and functions are planned keeping in mind the temple calendar of events. Partake of certain foods is restricted during monsoons, fasting is observed most often in the community near temples and faith has seeped itself in to the daily activities of the South Kanara People. Here temples are not just inanimate structures but represent faith and hope of the Tuluvas community.

–Usha

Fraser Town Food Trail with Gang Of Dusters

A 30 member team of Dusters gathered around Xavier’s Cathedral at 4:30 pm. The agenda was the most awaited Fraser Town Food Trail. The trail promised Syrian Christian goodies, Aflatoon cakes, Middle East Platters not to mention Biryanis.  Here is a brief glimpse of the Food walk conducted yesterday.

 

Gyan on Cant History

A little introduction, a brief travel in to Cantonment history at the Church, the motley group of family and kids set foot inside the church. The church itself is beautiful with Corinthian Capitals, stained glass windows but with a small wedding happening it was even more so.

A short glimpse of the wedding, we headed out in to the sunshine to savor some goodies.  The bubbly Vidya mesmerized the foodies through her short and long tales.

Finally with a satiated smile and a content stomach we dispersed. Here is a sample of treats that we gorged on.

If you would like to join the fun then register for our delightful and engaging food  and heritage trails.

–Usha

 

Bhoga nandeeshwara temple

The first thing that impressed me about Bhoga nandeeshwara temple is that it has a huge temple complex. This is a rare phenomenon. In the city of Bangalore, we have very few temples that boast impressive entrances, tanks not to mention huge courtyards. So this is a relief, even if it meant travelling outskirts for an hour or so from the city. The next thing you notice are the various peaks with varying heights forming a background finale for the temple. A sense of calmness descends on you, as you go nearer and the feeling compounds when you sight a Peepal tree filled with the talk of Parrots. Ha ..where else but outskirts of Bangalore can give you this kind of feels.

Bhoganandeeshwara-entrance

As I trudge forward, I encounter a vijayanagara style pillar inside the courtyard. There are numerous temple shrines inside the complex of Bhoganandeeshwara. And the surprising fact!  Five dynasties have put their energies in building this temple. But it looks like a single structure.Bhoganandeeshwara-temple

Make a guess to as to how old the temple could be. 500 years? 1000 years? Might be, as the  Arunachaleshwar temple in the Bhoga nandeeshwara temple complex has been built by Gangas . Arunachaleshwar, Bhoga nandeeshwara, Yoga nandeeshwara all are different names of Shiva. While Arunachaleshwara represents the childhood phase of Shiva, the Bhoga Nandeeshwara – a house holder and Yoga Nandeeshwara at Nandi hills that of a renunciate.

Arunachaleshwara Temple:

The temple of Arunachaleshwara is quite calm and as you sit down in front of Linga, you know you are viewing a 10th century Linga of stone. And you feel humble almost spiritual, in the small but earthy shrine. The local lore mentioned that prior to being a Shiva temple this held a statue of Keshava. But a Chola king shifted the Kesava idol from here and installed a Linga. Inside the shrine there is the statue of Simha Ganapati and below on the floor you can see the figure of Bhaire Gowda, ancestor of Kempe Gowda paying respects.

Outside the shrine a lone stone Nandi, pays obeisance to Arunachaleshwara.I exit out and head to the shrine besides it- the temple of UmaMaheshwara.

UmaMaheshwara Temple:

Built by Hoysala dynasty it is a beautiful stone structure. The pillars, walls and ceilings have beautiful carvings inside the shrine and the Navaranga outside it. Notice the four pillars inside the shrine, you will see not an inch of space left free. They depict thousands of birds, creepers, animals and gods in their spaces. The priest explained that this shrine is popular for solemnizing marriages- UmaMaheshwar who are the embodiment of Shiva-Parvati are a happy couple. As if it to lend proof the walls of the temple have Shiva and Parvati’s marriage scenes depicted.

Bhoganandeeshwara-carvings

Right next to this temple is the BhogaNandeeshwara.

BhogaNandeeshwara Temple:

What a beautiful temple said to be built by Cholas.  The Linga is impressive and you are filled with a sense of wonder gazing at it. A statue of Chola king is installed inside the shrine. However looking at the neck and especially the ear ornaments it looks like the statue of Jain Thirthankara. Much before the Cholas, this region was in the hands of Gangas. And they gave patronage to Jains and the religion flourished during their times. The famed Saravanabelagola was constructed by a Ganga Chieftain. So a local book mentions that perhaps Bhoganandeeshwara and the Yoga nandeeshwara above Nandi Hills were Jain Basadis that were later converted to Shiva temples by Cholas.

Inside-Bhoganandeeshwara

After all that musings I head outside. A walk around and you realize that there are more structures. Two more temples dedicated to wife of Arunachaleshwara- Apita Kuchamba  and of Shiva – the Prasanna Parvati- are present here. Once again the walls of Apita Kuchamba depict marriage scences. The other structures like wedding hall-Vasantha Mantapa, Tula Bhara, pillars were developed later by Vijayanagara rulers.  As you go around take a look at the lattice windows, some 10 in number that provide the necessary ventilation for the temple. They are beautiful filled with intricate figures and shapes. Bhoganandeeshwara-walls

Shringa Theertha:

Just ahead is the Shringa Theertha- the temple tank. There are various reasons why it has got the name Shringa. Some say a saint Shringa meditated here. And some say that Nandi the bull pierced his horns- Shringa and brought out the water of Ganges at this spot. Whatever might be the reasons behind its name- the tank is beautiful surrounded by stucco figures-some in ruins, some disfigured. The distant peaks, the setting sun created an ethereal glow on the waters and the ruins-the memory of which lingers with me even today.

Bhoganandeeshwara-tank

A sign board mentions that this tank is the source of South Pinakini river.

How to get to Bhoga nandeeshwara temple?

Take the route towards Nandi Hills. Once you reach Karahalli Cross take a right towards Nandi grama. The temple is in this village.  This is one of the nearest and best places to visit near Bengaluru. Or join our Temple Trails tours.

–Usha

 

Do you own a Palm leaf Pattachitra?

There is a sense of pride in the artist’s eyes. He is explaining to me what it is to possess a Tala-Pattachitra.

It is a legacy you are acquiring madam, a priceless masterpiece that does not fade and which occupies a place of pride in your home. You will be proud to pass it on to future generations,’ he insists. He is talking about his creations, the Palm leaf engraving- Tala-Pattachitra from Orissa.

His pride makes me feel strangely happy. You see, he is talking about an ancient Orissan palm leaf art – perhaps a thousand year old heritage from Orissa and Indian heritage is something I am rather cocky about.

More about Tala-Pattachitra art:

The creations are all done on Palm leaves. The fine drawings are from manuscripts. The details could be from mythological tales like Ramayana, Mahabharata, tales of Lord Jagannath of Puri temple…. But what makes them striking is that a thin stylus made from iron called Lekhana is used to engrave these illustrations. The artist or the Pattachitrakar as he is called, definitely requires a skilled and steady hand!They are so fine and detailed.

I see the engravings dyed in a striking black color. And I ask him how they color these fine line drawings. To which he replied,’ Madam, we rub the palm with a  black dye or soot or charcoal powder. The areas that don’t require the color are rubbed with a piece of wet rag.’  The color now becomes a part of these creations. Soot from the hearth , straight in to the handcraft!

The engravings are done in a single leaf- more often in four to five leaves or even more and stitched together.The result could be a scroll with a flap that neatly show off the illustrations and perhaps even a verse or two.

tala-pattachitra

History of Pattachitra Paintings:

Orissa has a rich history. Though it comes in our history text books in the notoriously popular Ashoka- Kalinga war, it was an independent State before, that proved a formidable opponent to Mauryan dynasty. Over the centuries it has been ruled by various rulers -Samudragupta, Harshavardana, Gangas etc. It came under Mughals, the Nawabs of Bengal ,Marathas and the British too. Culturally it is a potpourri of various religions- Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and the heterogeneous tribal  religions as well. This is reflected in their arts and crafts. The Patachitra or the palm leaf art and illustrations depict this medley.

Originally the Tala-Pattachitra was created by the Nayakar community. They were astrologers and used such palm leafs to create birth horoscopes of newborns. Today this art-craft is seen in the state of Orissa especially in Bhubaneshwar, Ganjam,Puri and Raghurajpur regions. And it has adapted to the changing times. The palm leaf now sees itself as wall hangings, lamp shades, fans,bookmarks etc so that it gels in to a contemporary home theme.

If you would like to know more about this art-craft then  Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat is the place to be. Check out their art and craft section. Support the artisans by buying a piece of this heirloom.

–Usha