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Heritage Alive!

Presentations and excerpts from select ebooks on

Welcome to a collection of photographs on the life and times of HH
Anandashram Swamiji, drawn from books published in 2002 to mark His birth centenary.
Permission to use these was graciously granted by (the late) Sh. Kodical Gourang, and by Sh. V. Rajagopal Bhat, editors of these books. The commentary has been drawn from the book “Fifty Years of Bliss."

The Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village
at Manipal

Not far from from Manu Palli aka Manipal Lake in the city of Manipal, if you wander on Alevoor Rd, you will encounter a unique compound of lovely, stately restored houses, some with laterite facades, others with intricately carved wooden and stone sides. Their designs are totally out of sync with designs seen elsewhere, till you rub your eyes and wonder if they belong to another era, like objects seen in faded photographs or black and white films of the bygone era. But these are for real, standing stately in a quiet compound welcoming the visitor to see them. What follows is a unique experience, one of a kind in India.

The Hasta Shilpa Heritage collection of houses stands first you wonder why the buildings look alike, yet different, but as our guide patiently ushered us through each,drawing our attention to special features of each,from an inbuilt locking system made of wood, to cantilever roofs balanced on a single iron shaft,to the unique ventilation system in another, it is evident that each structure in the compound is one of its kind, a stand alone and a gem by itself.

On view are period mansions that date back to 14th/15th centuries, some from Maharashtra, from erstwhile Berar/Hyderabad provinces, unique wooden structures from Kerala, from Goa (with Portuguese/Latin influence). There is the Raja of Mudhol`s darbar hall[Mudhol was a principality in the region of Bagalkot, Karnataka], beautifully structured with unique furniture and photographs, palkis, weapons etc. (Mudhol has of late been in the news as home to a unique indigenous breed of guard hounds (see pic). Security and defence forces now want to "recruit" this breed for their work as they stand our weather and other conditions much better than expensive foreign breeds used on our frontiers and at airports/ports etc.)

Aside from structures, the complex also has a large collection of Chhatisgarh/Bastar ritual wooden masks, cire perdue (lost wax) process statues from Central India and Maharashtra, sati stones, storage jars/bharnis from many parts of Asia (often used as ballast in sailing ships),and many other priceless objects collected/restored.
All this through the passion and perseverance of one man, Sh. VN Shenoy who literally gave his personal funds and life for realizing this museum (later some Scandic countries also joined in to give assistance; now Tata Trusts help out). However the existence of this unique spot is not much known in wider circles, and much less talked about. The founder, sadly passed on in 2016/17, but his dream project lives on as a landmark for all heritage lovers.

The latest mansion to "join" the collection (though not ready for public view yet) is "Shiv Baug" the twin level Naimpalli family house, originally located in Mangalore (see digital book elsewhere on this website). Shiv Baug housed a rather large and well to do Aamchi family of Mangalore for generations. The likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and leaders of that heady era spent time in this house when they visited the Konkan coast during the Independence movement. 

The Village offers guided tours at fixed times. There are reportedly over 20 structures at the site (they are running out of space given to them by local authorities, and there are plans to expand elsewhere) but not all can be viewed. Very competent guides take visitors around. Ticket prices (Camera separate) are reasonable for a place of this nature, at least less than an average pizza or a multiplex theatre ticket ! and look at what you get for that price.

We conclude with a request.This is our heritage,which [if not rescued and preserved in its entirety] would have been dismembered and vanished, to adorn some collectors' living rooms, either at home or in distant lands; our fellow citizens gave their all to rescue and preserve it for the present, and for posterity. We are beholden to them for keeping this heritage alive for all of us to see and enjoy. Please,therefore, contribute generously, enabling it to survive. You can do this either when you visit there,or even as you sit reading this article,and seeing the accompanying photos. By doing so,you are helping keep our national heritage alive! and safe for future generations.

Further Details at: contact cell: 09845229701, 08202574577. Add. Alevoor Rd.,(opp.Hotel Lake view), Manipal, Karnataka.

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay -
Crafting Insitutions

As this tribute to Kamaladevi is written,Independent India (for the political realisation of which she strove all her life), has marked seventy one years of national existence. It is an apt time to recall Kamaladevi`s role in building institutions that strengthened our infant nation at many levels. She was perhaps the most effective and exemplary constructive worker "thrown up" in the pre Independence decades. It is natural to think she was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The Gandhian political economy was certainly the (then) norm, but she was not one of those who directly took the mantra from Gandhi. Here was the strength of a personal struggle and an acute perception of the needs at ground level that impelled her thoughts and actions, and of course the inheritance of the spirit of revolution and rebellion her mother inculcated in her. She realized very early that for building a strong future, the country needed grass roots institutions that would not only help bind the social and cultural ethos of the people, but also create livelihoods, and create hope for the future. Post Partition of the subcontinent, economic deprivation was as large, perhaps larger than political trauma in the lives of ordinary people. While gainful employment for men was not so difficult, she thought of revival of handicrafts, handmade textiles as good avenues to revive not only the economy but also the morale of the displaced and others. With her contacts in the highest echelons of the government, and her selfless organizing skills, new organizations such as the Chhatarpur Agricultural Cooperative in Delhi and the Small Industrial Cooperatives set up in the new township of Faridabad were of immense assistance to the displaced persons. At the same time, the women found an outlet for their skills in programs of the All India Handicrafts Board, whose activities flowered all over India under the keen eye and constructive ideas of Kamaladevi. Travelling tirelessly, literally from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and Gujarat to the North Eastern regions, she guided the craftspeople, the trainers and general public about the need to preserve and develop the unique handicrafts of India. Many may not know that she "discovered" the Bankura Horse that is tody the mascot of Cottage Industries in India. Besides, textile weaves such as the Chanderi, the Patan Patola, the Ikat, the Patachitra of Odisha, the Kalamkari designs and the whole range of exquisitely embroidered "roomals" (scarves) of North India owe their existence to her groundwork in encouraging artisans not to give up their hoary skills, and providing them market platforms for sustenance.

Similarly to revive theatre crafts, she set up a theatre crafts museum (the Srinivasa Malliah Theatre Crafts Museum) in Delhi; to encourage dramatics and music, the Sangeet Natak Akademi was formed; the National School of Drama focused on creating and encouraging home grown talent and the Indian National Theatre made strides under her encouragement. Similarly, puppetry and allied arts, masked and other folk dances - from Ghoomar of Rajasthan to Bommalata of Andhra to Chhau of Bengal, Bhuta and Yakshagana from Karnataka to the Pavaikathakali glove puppets) of Kerala -  all got her equal attention and support.

Her efforts both in the financial field and that of ideas resulted in the Japanese government coming together with the Indian in the 1960s to create the India International Centre in Delhi, the first homegrown nursery for freewheeling intellectual activity, a resource centre for research in social sciences, and a focus for national and international cultural activities. Between the '50s and `80s of the last century, Kamaladevi would have created and fostered the crafting of at least 15 to 20 institutions in the areas of handicrafts, the arts and social sciences. Her staggering achievements doubtless had something to do with idealism and nation building fervor in Independent India. No wonder then, that a former President of India remarked "Flower buds seemed to blossom at her touch, whether they be flower buds of human beings or institutions ... she made people more humane and sensitive to deeper impulses of society"

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