Dasara Doll Festival – III

A lot of colour, exquisite Dasara dolls, traditional splendour, doll arrangement interspersed with theatre and between all that taking in the rich aroma of flowers, food and festivities were some of the highlights of the Dasara Golu Walk arranged by Unhurried.in. The walks had been arranged over the Dasara week from 29 September to 4 October. I chose to attend the walk on 2 October.

We were first shown into the 107-year-old house of Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao, erstwhile Diwan of Mysore kingdom.

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The dolls, most of them miniature, were arranged meticulously by Mrs Narendra, wife of the Diwan’s great grandson. The main display was at the centre and consisted of 4 steps with the 3 Raja-Rani dolls hogging the limelight.

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On both sides of the steps there were dolls of deities and also village folk arranged neatly depicting different facets of village life. I didn’t do a good job with the photos though 😦

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A masala dosa at Vidyarthi Bhavan later we were off to the next house but not before savouring the colours and aromas of different varieties of flowers at Gandhi Bazaar. I have never seen a market looking more colourful!

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As we walked to the next house, we passed by a house said to be the childhood home of former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha.

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The doll arrangement at the house of Veena Ravindranath was simply amazing! Her collection includes 4000 plus dolls spanning various periods of time. A highlight here is the stunningly beautiful depiction of various scenes of the Ramayan with dolls and visuals accompanied by eloquent captions. Everything here looked surreal and behind every scene was a story of toil, patience and a great sense of aesthetics. It goes without saying that arranging dolls is a test of creativity! Have a look at some pictures:

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Lord Brahma and Bhoomi Devi seek Lord Vishnu's help to slay demon king Ravana.

Lord Brahma and Bhoomi Devi seek Lord Vishnu’s help to slay demon king Ravana.

King Dasharatha performs Putrakameshti Yagna to beget a son.

King Dasharatha performs Putrakameshti Yagna to beget a son.

Birth of princes Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugana.

Birth of princes Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna.

Sage Vashista trains the princes in archery.

Sage Vashista trains the princes in archery.

King Dasharatha expresses his desire to coronate Rama as crown prince.

King Dasharatha expresses his desire to coronate Rama as crown prince.

A court scene depicting the arrival of sage Vishwamitra to take Prince Rama along with him to guard his yagna.

A court scene depicting the arrival of sage Vishwamitra to take Prince Rama along with him to guard his yagna.

Rama slays demoness Tataka as he approaches the yagnasthala.

Rama slays demoness Tataka as he approaches the yagnasthala.

Ahalya's redemption from curse.

Ahalya’s redemption from curse.

Rama breaks Shiva's celestial bow.

Rama breaks Shiva’s celestial bow.

The weddings of Rama and Sita, Lakshman and Urmila and also those of Bharat and Mandavi and Shatrughna and Shrutakeerthi.

The weddings of Rama and Sita, Lakshman and Urmila and also those of Bharata and Mandavi and Shatrughna and Shrutakeerthi.

Guha offers Rama, Sita and Lakshmana help in crossing three rivers during their vanavaasa.

Guha offers Rama, Sita and Lakshmana help in crossing three rivers during their vanavaasa.

Bharata breaks the sad news of Dasharatha's death to Rama at Chitrakoota.

Bharata breaks the sad news of Dasharatha’s death to Rama at Chitrakoota.

Bharata returns to Ayodhya to perform 'Paaduka Pattabhisheka'

Bharata returns to Ayodhya to perform ‘Paaduka Pattabhisheka’

Lakshmana chops off demoness Shurpanakha's nose.

Lakshmana chops off demoness Shurpanakha’s nose. The demoness in her human-like avatar had tried to woo Lakshmana who spurned her advances. She in turn had tried to attack him.

Lakshmana (partially hidden) chops off Shurpanakha's nose.

Lakshmana (partially hidden) chops off Shurpanakha’s nose.

Shurpanakha complains to her brother Ravana.

Shurpanakha complains to her brother Ravana.

Sita is allured by the golden deer

Sita is allured by the golden deer.

Rama kills Mareecha (disguised as a golden deer).  Mareecha mimics Rama and calls out to Sita and Lakshmana. Sita urges Lakshmana to go. Lakshmana draws a line (popularly called the Lakshman Rekha) and instructs Sita not to cross the line.

Rama kills Mareecha (disguised as a golden deer). Mareecha mimics Rama and calls out to Sita and Lakshmana. Sita urges Lakshmana to go. Lakshmana draws a line (popularly called the Lakshman Rekha) and instructs Sita not to cross the line.

 

Ravana arrives in the guise of a sage to fool Sita and kidnap her.

Ravana arrives in the guise of a sage to fool Sita and kidnap her.

Jatayu, the brave vulture tries to save Sita from Ravana's clutches.

Jatayu, the brave vulture tries to save Sita from Ravana’s clutches.

A badly injured Jatayu informs Rama about the kidnapping and also shows him the direction in which Ravana took Sita.

A badly injured Jatayu informs Rama about the kidnapping and also shows him the direction in which Ravana took Sita.

Khabanda advices Rama to meet Sugriva.

The rakshasa Khabanda advices Rama to meet Sugriva.

Shabari attains moksha

Shabari attains moksha

Rama meets Hanuman and Sugriva.

Rama meets Hanuman and Sugriva.

Sugriva's coronation.

Sugriva’s coronation.

Sugriva's coronation

Sugriva’s coronation

Rama gives his ring to Hanuman as a token of love and identity before Hanuman leaves for Lanka.

Rama gives his ring to Hanuman as a token of love before Hanuman leaves for Lanka.

Jatayu's cousin Sampaati informs Angad, Sugriva's nephew, about Sita. Sampaati then gets new wings and flies away.

Jatayu’s cousin Sampaati informs Angad, Sugriva’s nephew, about Sita. Sampaati then gets new wings and flies away.  Hanuman grows tall and decides to cross the ocean.

Hanuman grows tall and decides to cross the ocean.

Hanuman meets the demoness Surasa.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashokavana and hands her Rama's ring. In turn she too gives him a token of love and gratitude to be handed over to Rama.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashokavana and hands her Rama’s ring. In turn she too gives him a token of love and gratitude to be handed over to Rama.

Ravana's son Indrajit captures Hanuman. By then Hanuman has managed to kill five of Ravana's senadipatis (army generals).

Ravana’s son Indrajit captures Hanuman. By then Hanuman has managed to kill five of Ravana’s senadipatis (army generals).

Hanuman sitting on his tail.

Hanuman sitting on his tail.

Hanuman is brought to Ravana's court.

Hanuman is brought to Ravana’s court.

Hanuman meets Rama and conveys Sita's message to him.

Hanuman meets Rama and conveys Sita’s message to him.

Construction of the bridge by Rama and the vanara sena gets underway.

Construction of the bridge by Rama and the vanara sena gets underway.

Rama appoints Angada as a messenger to Ravana. Angada was known to have great diplomatic skills.

Rama appoints Angada as a messenger to Ravana. Angada was known to have great diplomatic skills.

In the fierce battle that ensues between Rama's vanara sena and Ravana's army, Indrajit uses the Nagastra to finish off Rama and Lakshmana. The brothers become unconscious. The divine bird Garuda brings them back to consciousness by brushing his wings against them.

In the fierce battle that ensues between Rama’s vanara sena and Ravana’s army, Indrajit uses the Nagastra to finish off Rama and Lakshmana. The brothers become unconscious. The divine bird Garuda brings them back to consciousness by brushing his wings against them.

Ravana sent back by Rama from the battlefield.

Ravana sent back by Rama from the battlefield.

The pièce de résistance in Veena Ravindranath’s collection was the large Kumbhakarna doll (see picture below):

Ravana sends demons to wake up his brother Kumbhakarna from his slumber.

Ravana sends demons to wake up his brother Kumbhakarna from his slumber.

Indrajit kills an illusionary image of Sita and using Brahmastra makes a bemused Rama and Lakshmana unconscious.

Indrajit kills an illusionary image of Sita and using Brahmastra makes Rama and Lakshmana unconscious.

Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevini Parvatha.

Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevini Parvatha.

Hanuman arrives with the Sanjeevini Parvatha

Hanuman arrives with the Sanjeevini Parvatha.

Rama tends to an unconscious Lakshmana.

Rama tends to an unconscious Lakshmana.

Lakshmana kills Indrajit at the Nikumbala Caves.

Lakshmana kills Indrajit at the Nikumbala Caves.

Rama invokes the blessings of Surya by chanting Aditya Hridayam before embarking to kill Ravana.

Rama invokes the blessings of Surya by chanting Aditya Hridayam before embarking to kill Ravana.

Rama kills Ravana

Rama kills Ravana

Vibishina is all set to take over as King of Lanka.

Vibishana is all set to take over as King of Lanka.

Lakshmana enters Ashokavana to release Sita.

Lakshmana enters Ashokavana to release Sita.

Rama and Sita in Ayodhya.

Rama and Sita in Ayodhya.

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Sita's Agnipravesham

Sita’s Agnipravesham

Installing of Shivalinga to remove 'brahma hathya' sin in Rameshwaram.

Installing of Shivalinga to remove ‘brahma hathya’ sin in Rameshwaram.

This was not all, there were many more dolls in Veena Ravindranath’s home. Have a look:

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After this spectacular doll feast there was one more to come and this one was mixed with theatre. ‘Bimba’ The Art Ashram was soaked in festive fervour and ethnic chic. There was a doll arrangement in one of the huts with age-old dolls gleaming in the dim light.   Actually, the muted lighting was accentuating the beauty of the dolls. The star attraction here was a large Saraswathi.

Bimba

Bimba

A dream stage for any musician!

A dream stage for any musician!

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Goddess Saraswathi, the star attraction in the doll arrangement.

Goddess Saraswathi, the star attraction in the doll arrangement towers over the other dolls.

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The evening ended with Rasalok, an enchanting still theatre performance where the artist Deepika Dorai had the audience (mostly children) spellbound with the narration of Kanakadasa’s life story titled ‘Ecstacy Enslaved’. The stage depicting a typical scene from rural Karnataka had dolls as characters representing village folk, domestic animals, Kanakadasa, his guru Vrishabacharya and more. It was dark inside the hut and only the stage was lit. Deepika had a torch with her and flashed it at each character as she introduced them. The narration in English was now and then punctuated with Kanakadasa’s bhajans and other sounds. This was the first time I was audience to such a performance and to say that I was dazzled would be an understatement. The 90-min performance was both enchanting and uplifting! I hope to make it to Bimba some day again.

 

Also see my last year’s posts:

Dasara Doll Festival – I

Dasara Doll Festival – II

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Soaking in vintage chic

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It is always a pleasure walking along the roads of Basavanagudi dotted as they are with charming houses, temples and a lot trees. I have been to quite a few walks and a couple of treasure hunts in this part of the city and have never returned disappointed. A visit to Basavanagudi takes you to a Bangalore  far removed from most parts of the city. A lot of heritage bungalows which once defined Bangalore’s cityscape can still be found here, some of them in mint condition and some others in a sad state. There are still traces of old world charm here and you often get to interact with senior citizens who don’t mind going any length to tell stories of the glorious past they have seen. Not surprisingly, tour and walk organizer Unhurried’s first ever Basavanagudi Heritage Homes Walk on Saturday evening (6 September) drew a lot of participants. Like me, I’m sure most of them wanted to soak in the vintage charms of this beautiful locality. Among the motley group of walkers were architects (including the walk leader), a doctor, techies, a teacher, homemakers and businessmen.

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August being a particularly wet month in the city, I was a little skeptical about the weather on Saturday. And a bus commute to Basavanagudi would take me at least two hours. In spite of that my enthusiasm got the better of me and I decided to go. My worst fears came true when it started raining cats and dogs even before I reached half the way. I had already changed two buses and decided not to take the third. Instead I decided to take a rickshaw. The driver seemed to be well-versed with Basavanagudi and I was confident I would reach the venue on time. How wrong I was! What would have been a 30-minute commute took way too long. I in fact I lost my way and irritated the walk lead with several calls before finally joining the walkers much after the walk had started.

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The cream-washed bungalow with brick pillars

Inside the bungalow:

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I joined the group in a cream-washed bungalow with red accents and brick pillars. Mercifully, the heavy downpour had by then abated to a drizzle. The participants were all ears to Rohit whose great-grandfather once owned the sprawling property. The now uninhabited colonial building which was constructed in 1956 had seen far better days. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stayed here during one of her visits to the city. Back then the property cost Rs. 46,000 (undoubtedly a lofty sum in those days). It was with a tinge of sadness that we moved from room to room. The interiors of the once-beautiful house were crying for attention. Complementing the bungalow is a large courtyard with trees on the sides. If renovated I am sure this once-prized possession will turn into a stunner.

As we gathered to move out I ran into Vandana my classmate at school. I hadn’t seen her for years. In fact we were meeting for the first time since we left school. During the rest of the walk we had a lot to talk about – school, classmates and blah blah 🙂 🙂 . For both of us this added to the vintage element of the walk.

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Presto’s ThinDi Katte

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Inside Nittoor’s bungalow:

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The main gate of Nittoor Srinivasa Rao’s bungalow. Notice the details on the name plate.

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The bungalow of Nittoor Srinivasa Rao’s cousin

Our next stop was at the Presto Restaurant on Kariyappa Road, which actually is a portion of the home of late  Nittoor Srinivasa Rao, former Chief Justice of the Mysore High Court. One of the most famous personalities who lived in Basavanagudi, Nittoor Srinivasa Rao lived up to the ripe old age of 100 and passed away in 2004 just short of his 101st birthday. Nittoor’s lovely house is a perfect example of sustainable heritage and a complete contrast to the bungalow which we last saw. Nittoor’s relatives stay in the portion of the house behind Presto’s. Adjacent to the house is another heritage bungalow which belongs to Nittoor’s cousin. After a cup of piping hot coffee at Presto restaurant’s ThinDi Katte it was time to move on.

Mr Ugrappa's house

Mr Ugrappa’s house

We were next shown the 97-year-old house of Mr. Ugrappa. We admired the bungalow from outside the gate and moved on to another old dwelling called ‘Om Bhagya Bhavan’. This one was a towering one and its beautiful façade covered with a blanket of greenery. It looked like a house straight from a fairy tale.

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The backside of the bungalow Rajeshwari

The front side of Rajeshwari

The front side of Rajeshwari

Our next halt was the backside of an imposing vintage building. This one was again crying for attention. Estimated to be over 80 years old, the house named Rajeshwari belonged to HL Narasinga Rao. On moving to the front of the house we were greeted by the yelps of an oh-so-cute boxer who just couldn’t contain her excitement on seeing so many of us.

Dr Balu's house

Dr Balu’s house

Inside Dr Balu’s house:

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After bidding goodbye to the adorable boxer we next visited Gitalaya, the house of late collage artist Dr V Balu. The pretty house with an equally pretty garden and courtyard has a very inviting look. While the ground floor and the staircase which leads to the first floor are adorned with a lot of artifacts, the first floor houses the studio of the late artist. The walls are enlivened with colourful artworks of his. A balcony gives a panoramic view of the greenery that surrounds the house. The floors of the house are covered with ornate tiles and adding to the colour are the stained glass windows. This was a very much a house that breathed art from every corner!

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Dr Seshachalam’s house

Another period bungalow

Another period bungalow

We could only admire the façade of the house of Dr Seshachalam, former Surgeon General of Victoria Hospital, from the outside and that too through the pillars of an apartment. However, we had a good view of the right side of the house. A bystander here tells us that the house will soon be razed and make way for an apartment. What! It looks too good to be razed down. Can’t we preserve beautiful heritage houses like these for posterity?

The sepia-toned family photo of Mr Mahadevan adorns the reception of Basava Ambara

A sepia-toned family photo of Mr Mahadevan adorns the reception of Basava Ambara

Mr Madhavan's house now the residence of his youngest son Devendran and his wife Sushila

Mr Mahadevan’s house now the residence of his youngest son Devendran and his wife Sushila

The greenery around the Madhavans' house

The greenery around the Mahadevan home

The outhouse of the Madhavans' home now houses Basava Ambara

The outhouse of the Mahadevan home now houses Basava Ambara

Inside Basava Ambara:

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As we walked by we pictured another pretty vintage architectural gem before halting at Basava Ambara, an outhouse-turned-boutique at the home of Mr. M. Mahadevan. Like Nittor Srinivasa Rao’s house, this colossal bungalow, which was built around 1900, is another example of sustainable heritage. The outhouse is now home to Basava Ambara, a boutique that besides apparel and other things, exhibits and sells antiques most of which have been collected from heritage houses in and around Basavanagudi. The courtyard also houses a restaurant adorned here and there with antiques which have been very creatively arranged. A large black and white photograph of Mr Mahadevan and his family which included seven children adorns the reception. The text below the photograph mentions that the area beyond South End Circle was once upon a time a forest and peacocks could even be seen at Aramugam Circle!

Diwan Krishna Rao's house

Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao’s house

A tree surrounded by an ornate parapet

A tree surrounded by an ornate parapet

The right side of the bungalow

The right side of the bungalow

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The wooden gates at Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao’s home

Inside Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao’s house:

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Our final stop for the day was at the residence of Late Diwan Bahadur Sir MN Krishna Rao, another famous personality who resided at Basavanagudi. His is the only bungalow in Basavanagudi with wooden gates. We were greeted at the gate by his great grandson Mr Narendra, a renowned Kannada and English writer who has authored many books. Late Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao is the father-in-law and uncle of Nittoor Srinivasa Rao and, as many Bangaloreans know, a park in Basavanagudi is named after him. The walls in the house are adorned by photos of the famous man and also a whole lot of sepia-toned photographs of other family members. Also occupying a pride of place on one of the walls is the certificate of Knighthood conferred on Diwan Krishna Rao by the British queen. Particularly eye-catching here were a large swing in the central hall of the ground floor and a huge vintage Scott radio encased in a wooden box on the first floor. My eyes also caught sight of an ornate straw sieve hung on the wall. A map of the future world by Gordon-Michael Scallion evinced a lot of interest among some of the walkers. One of the walkers who had read Mr. Narendra’s book ‘Pralaya’ was delighted at unexpectedly meeting the author. After a few conversations at the garden of the large bungalow it was time to move on.

Bread roast masala dosa

Bread roast masala dosa

Most of us ended our evening with a cup of coffee and a snack at Presto’s ThinDi Katte. I chose to have a Bread Roast Masala Dosa because the name sounded interesting and I love trying out new dishes. It turned out to be a cracker of a choice! Crisp, lip-smacking with just the right proportion of spices the dosa tasted out of the world!

On my way back to the bus-stop I enjoyed some night views of Basavanagudi. Truly, this was one helluva Saturday evening! If only we could preserve all the lovely bungalows for posterity!