Posts Tagged ‘heritage’

Two views…of me

July 25, 2019

At Begur Panchalinga Nageswara Temple, I was taking copious notes to help me make a blogpost about my visit, when I was clicked by Dr M B Krishna (affectionately called MBK).

Here is the “regular” photo.


He then “artified”it on his mobile software:


I must say, I like both!

The itinerant religious singer, Bhutanahalli, 170619

June 18, 2019

I clicked this photo of an itinerant religious singer, with my young friend Prem, while we were watching the Baya Weavers at Bhutanahalli koLA (pond):


Since he was singing about the maleficient god Shaniswara (the planet Saturn), I clicked him in front of the shrine:


I also saw Krishnaveni’s husband and her son Punith (they run Ravisutha Hotel, where we generally have chai and brefus when we are birding in the area) give alms to the singer:

I posted on FB and asked if such a singer would have a specific name, and got a very detailed reply from Rajpal Navalkar:

“This one is Kamsale. Most of them can be found in North Karnataka. In Maharashtra, too, we have these semi classical and even classical Buas (called Bauls in Bengal) who go around singing Bhajans and Bhavageet.”

He went on to add, in detail:

Religious singers are of five groups: (1) Kamsale (2) Neelagaru (3) Chowdike
(4) Gorava (5) Gane.

Professional religious singers sing only those songs which concern their chosen gods, pilgrim centres and temples. Their main purpose is to propagate the supremacy and philosophy of their particular religion to inculcate values and norms in the community. Professional singers are characterised by traditional colourful costumes and conspicuous musical instruments. They command great respect and take active participation in all the religious celebrations of their community.

(1) Kamsale

Kamsale: ‘Kamsale’, popularly known as ‘Devadraguddas’ are the disciples of Lord Madayya. ‘Kamsale Mela’ is a popular folk song which deals with the history of ‘Mahadeshwara’ (the presiding deity of Malai Mahadeshwara or MM Hills, a renowned pilgrim centre, situated in Mysore district).

The name ‘Kamsale’ is derived from the traditional musical instrument. It is a unique musical instrument consisting of two bronze plates. The bronze cymbal is in the form of a cup with a broad base. The other plate is a flat structure with a tassel tied in the centre. The cup is held in the left hand and with the help of the tassel the flat plate is held in the right hand and the singer clashes both of them rhythmically during the performances.

‘Kamsale’ singers sing either individually or in a group. when in group, this form becomes a mela and consists of three members. The main performer plays the ‘Kamsale’ instrument, supported by two artistes in the background playing an instrument-the ‘Dammadi’ and the ‘Yekatari’-single-stringed musical instrument. The performance consists of narration by the chief singer, who pauses in between to interpret the story. The Kamsale artists do not wear any traditional costumes.

Their dressing is simple, they wear ‘Rudraksha’ beads, which is their religious emblem, and carry a satchel. They are illiterates and have no printed literature. They learn those songs orally. They participate in fairs, which are held in Mahadeshwara hills during ‘Diwali’, ‘Shivaratri’ and ‘Ugadi’ festivals and are found extensively in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore districts of the state.

Thank you for all the information, Rajpal. Just a few minutes of that song had so much of a story behind it! Here’s some more of the KamsALe, with more of dance:

Theatre Review: “Ultimate Kurukshetra” by Actors Ensemble, Ranga Shankara, 060619

June 10, 2019

The two Hindu epics are majestic pieces of literature, grand in their sweep of space and time; they stand as beacons of moral and ethical values, and we generally hold them in awe and reverence. We certainly do not associate them with humour, or light-heartedness.

So, when I got an email from Ram Ganesh Kamatham about his award-winning play, “Ultimate Kurkshetra” which deals not with the forefront, and the heroes of the Mahabharata, but of the very ordinary people who populate the fringes of the army on the eve of the great war of Kurukshetra, I was intrigued and rushed off to watch.

Ultimate Kurukshetra, RS, 060619, Citizen Matters

The first attraction was the sumptuous “ratha” (chariot) that stood on the stage, with several weapons such as the mace, spears and so on. When the play started, Yuyutsu, that single Kaurava who suffered pangs of conscience before the war, appeared, and took the trip to bathos with his announcement that he was called “Yuyu” for short! The other characters then took the stage: Sudarshana the warrior and Adi, his charioteer, who have been issued a chariot but no horses (Adi has been given a token and a promise of payment after the war!). Daksha, the mahout, who is busy calculating just how much poop and dung all those horses and elephants on the battlefield will generate. Maya, the courtesan, who wants to be paid for her work last night…and whose relationships with other men are slowly revealed, the last one being the high point or climax on which the interval happens. And most delightful of all, just as Adi says, “This is a battlefield, I don’t see people wandering around”…there comes Vyasa himself, in a hilarious camp version, prancing through the battlefield as if it were a field of lilies, making observations that had the audience in splits, sporting a peacock-feather pen and a palm-leaf to write on.

Incident follows hilarious incident. Daksha has devised an elephant-head mask (it’s that of a young elephant) that will prevent the war elephants from trampling on the warrior wearing them, even though the elephants themselves seem to have been conscripted from various other callings in temples and zoos! The mask is too small, and gets stuck on Sudarshana’s head, prompting Vyasa, in one of his numerous appearances, to say that he’s been looking for a scribe to write the epic (or as he calls it in true Malayali style, “yepick”!) and (with a sideways look at the so-called elephant) that he seems to have found one. Some important incidents from the epic are referred to, such as the lacquer house built by Purochana for the Pandavas, which is burnt to the ground to kill them off; Bheeshma’s “iccha mrithyu” or death at his own wish; But through all the comedy runs the thread of deep philosophy: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt” is one line that has stayed with me well after the play. Another beautiful and moving sequence is when Sudarshana describes how he, too, heard Krishna giving the Geetopadesha to Arjuna.The words showed the playwright’s prose rising to poetry.

The play winds on to a very satisfactory conclusion, with Maya also entering the battle as a warrior, equal to the men she has been dealing with. As the conch of war sounds, Vyaas in his batik top and pista-green dhoti sums up the premise of the play, and Yuyutsu reappars to state it: the ultimate Kurukshetra is not a battle in the distant past, it is a battle in every day of our lives, with the choices we make.

Enjoying and laughing my way through the performance did not prevent me from noticing and appreciating the technical aspects of the production. First of all, even before we entered the theatre, the excellent three-page brochure gave us an introduction to the cast and crew, and what we should expect in the two hours ahead. The play won the Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting in 2011. Apart from the information about the cast and crew of the play and about the group itself, I enjoyed the director’s note about the rasas to be found in the Mahabharata, and how he came to write the play, with a “notable absence of grandstanding champions, and a surfeit of flawed, under-equipped and everyday heroes doing their best to get by in a very challenging situation”.

The stage design was done so that the cast could move backwards and forwards, to the side and centre of the stage, easily. The properties and production values were lavish and unstinted: the weapons, the golden chariot (alas, no horses to move it!) all added to the effect.

The costumes, too, showed that a lot of thought had gone into them…the photograph I have posted here, of the cast taking their bow after the performance, shows the spectrum of colours which made the costumes a visual spectacle.The dhotis, the courtesan’s robes, the armour…all were well-designed and added to the eye appeal while not hindering the movements of the artistes.

Indeed, movement was something there was a lot of. Well-choreographed fight sequences (and most of the fights except perhaps the sequence of Arjuna and his bow, Gandiva, were not of the great war, but skirmishes amongst the characters, as personal frictions came in the way of being united as a part of the Kaurava army), the amorous moments between Maya, Sudarshana and Adi, they all flowed smoothly.

I must say that in the performance I watched, there was some fluffing of dialogues by the characters who played Daksha and Sudarshana; my daughter and son-in-law, who watched the play the next evening, reported much less of such glitches. In the main, though, the dialogues and the punch lines were well-delivered, and the audience’s laughter showed their enjoyment.

The sound design, and the music, added to heighten the denouement of the play, and were very effective indeed, without resorting to the usual noises that sometimes accompany comedy on the stage.

The lighting was also excellent. Highlighting and general lighting, some strobe effects and other areas were handled very well, evoking the battlefield in both its majesty, and its bathos.

I must,however, add that not everyone in the audience liked the play equally; my daughter’s friend,it appears, was “quite disgusted” and said that she did not like the great epic being thus parodied. Different opinions for different people, of course… I must say that I enjoyed the humour and the dialogue very much! I happen to think that a good satire pays its own tribute to the majesty of the original.

All in all, a rollicking run through the prelude to the great war of Kurukshetra, which yet showed up human frailties, egos and the interplay of personalities, and put forward, at the end, the truth that with every choice we make, we fight our own Kurukshetras every day.

Looking forward to the next play from the pen of this talented playwright!

“Ultimate Kurukshetra” by Actors Ensemble
Duration: 120 min with a 10 min interval
Written and directed by Ram Ganesh Kamatham
Designed and Produced by Mallika Prasad Sinha
Language: English
6 and 7 June, 2019, Ranga Shankara

Vyasa: Anil Abraham
Adi: Harish Seshadri
Sudarshana: Karn Malhotra
Daksha: Anirudh Acharya
Maya: Mallika Prasad Sinha
Yuyutsu: Ram Ganesh Kamatham

Costumes: Sankeerthi Aipanjiguly
Backdrop and Daksha’s house: Prasanna D
Chariot and Floor: Sridhar Murthy
Tracks: Aman Anand, Snehal Pinto
Sound: Shashank
Make-up: Uma Maheshwar
Props: Ullas Hydoor
Lights: Naveen M G
Front of House: Vinay Shastri
Stage Manager: Lekha Naidu

Poster Design and Illustrations: Sachin Jadhav
Stills and Video: Cletus Rebello
Backstage Crew: Disha Rao, Srinivas Gowda, Prashanth M, Lakshyaraj Rathod
Venkatraman Balakrishna and Meera Sitaraman provided “Gandiva”

Patrons: Dr Vibha Prasad, Mrs Pratibha Prasad, Rahul Raghuram, Shantanu Prabhu, Swaroop Srinath.

You can see the trailer


Suitable for audiences over 13 years
Tickets: Rs.200.

The Panchalinga temple, Begur, 161114

November 17, 2014

Sometimes a lot of the hard work is done for me!

Arvind took Gayatri and me to the 1200-year-old temple of nagarEshwara in Begur. I thought I’d write about it, but

this blogpost by Anita Bora

has done a great job of it!

The only difference after 6.5 years is that two rAja gOpurAs have been constructed, and will be consecrated today (17 Nov 2014). There are some rather unimaginative, but well-meaning, repairs in the temple, but the age old nagarEshwara shrine is still rather tottery!

Lovely video with the commentary in Kannada:

So, here are a few pictures I took.

A temple I saw before the Panchalinga temple:


A view of the Panchalinga temple:


The simple temple rathA (chariot) in a “garage” opposite the temple.


A rAjagOpurA under construction (it’s supposed to be consecrated today, and seems nowhere near done!)


The other one, more finished:


How can I have a post without birding in it? A migratory Spot-billed Pelican soars over the temple (the Begur Lake is close by).


The old shrine:


The small gopura:


The old part of the temple:


The tottering old nagarEshwara shrine:


the Nandi in front:



Small bas relief of Ganesha:


Getting ready for the deepOtsavA (lamp festival):


A yagnya being performed:


The low ceilings and granite pillars:


rAvaNA, the king of Sri Lanka, a great devotee of Shiva, and the “villain” of the epic, rAmAyaNA, as a vehicle for the god in procession:


Another such pallakki both are at the shrine of kAlikAmbA:


Shrine to sUrya nArAyaNA:


The view of the Nagareshwara shrine:


Hero stones and inscriptions in the courtyard:






A Ganesha carved out of a bullock horn:


View of the “staircase” to the gopura under construction:


It’s made of bamboo and bricks, earth-friendly materials instead of metal; looks rickety, but that’s what the builders are working with!


Another view of the temple:


A “vilva”(crab apple) tree in full fruition:


One of the trees in the courtyard:


Another one next to it:


The flower seller outside with her umbrella flying in the breeze:


I’ve put up some more photos on my FB album,

click here

(especially those who like to see what everyday religious life is like Over Here!)

July 16, 2014




is the site of Glimmingsehus Castle, in Hammenhog; it is a well-preserved medieval manor, the start of the construction of the fort dating back to 1499.



“Glimmingehus, situated in the county of Skåne in southern Sweden, is the best-preserved medieval manor in Scandinavia. Jens Holgersen Ulfstand began to construct the stately fortress in the year 1499.

The present is on the left, and the past is on the right!


“Glimmingehus was established as an imposing residence for the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and his family. At that time Skåne belonged to Denmark.




“Finds from archaeological excavations have revealed the highly exclusive nature of the Glimmingehus household. The most expensive objects available in Europe in the early 16th century have been found, including Venetian glass, extruded Rhineland glass and Spanish ceramic ware.




“Today, Glimmingehus is a living Ancient Monument and a centre for people throughout Scandinavia interested in the Middle Ages, as well as an exciting outing. New research, both archaeological and research into building history, has helped to produce a picture of how the fortress was once built and used.”

Even the lichen is blooming on the walls!



We had our own, very good Swedish guide!


Down to the kitchen:



The well that served the castle; the story goes that there is an eel, about a thousand years old, that is still alive at the bottom! (No, we couldn’t see into the well!)


The huge hall at the top:


The staircase:


The view from the top:


Vaulted ceilings underground:




Narrow windows tell their tale of fortification:


Here’s the baron who built the castle:


(er, he does look “petrified”, doesn’t he!)

And here’s the coat of arms:


The huge fireplace:


The area where the womenfolk lived:


Couldn’t go past this:


successfully puts a villain in

the stocks !


The museum downstairs documented the way life was lived:


I certainly remember grinding soaked rice in a similar grinding stone, when I was very young, in my parents’ home in Kolkata!


The refectory tables:


Interesting window:


This woodcut of the castle itself is very old!


Old tapestries:



A poster advertising an event highlighting the activities of medieval times:


An artist has depicted various coats of arms:


Ancient implements:


Pouring pots (don’t ask me why I thought of little boys pissing!)


Bread was dried in disks like that!


Kitchen soot will always be kitchen soot, and there will always be Cinderellas…


A modern lock in an ancient latch!


An amazing fact at this castle was that even tourism is very old…here are the signatures of tourists from 1938!


PC was very taken with the moat, I think he wants one of his own, with crocodiles:


Another portrait (instead of oils, they used stone in those days!) of the Baron of the Castle:


A scale model:


I was amazed to find the


which we call the mOresing, and which is still played in many Carnatic music concerts:


It’s apparently also called the “Jew’s Harp” and is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world! Here’s the castle employee playing it for us, being careful not to cut her tongue in two:


When medieval knights talked of chain mail, they didn’t mean a spate of unwanted letters!


The museum had some (SO lightweight, made of nylon!) on sale:


They also had a lovely model of a slingshot cannon, and knights of old:




They had quill nibs and metal nibs:


There was a children’s activity area:


Medieval pastimes no. 347, Riding a Pig:


Now you know why there are no more unicorns, they’ve been made extinct!


Tourists are helping make each other extinct, too:


Imposing Glimmingehus Castle…thank you for taking us there, !


Ofkose I have to talk about the birds, too….many of them make their homes here. We saw Swifts and Starlings, Ravens and Rooks, and many Jackdaws, like this one:


As we were leaving, we sighted a pair of Common Kestrels circling above the castle…and Kejn spotted three nestlings, in a niche, high above! What a thrill it was!


So that was my heritage-cum-birding experience here!

That was me documenting Glimmingehus….


I hope you enjoyed the castle as much as I did!



is my FB album of the visit.

June 30, 2014

It was a wonderful experience to go to Gamla Linkoping (the old town of Linkoping), where heritage buildings have been brought in and re-built with every possible care. There are several museums, housed in these old buildings, that visitors can walk into. In the whole area, many people who are in period costumes walk about; and today, when the local newspaper was pushed into the mail slot, I found out a bit more about two musicians whom I met there.

Here’s Jacek Malisz, with his accordion:


And here’s Lasse Strom (er, that “o” should have an umlaut), with his “Strohfiol”, which is a violin with an amplifier:


And here they are, playing together.


Jacek’s accordion, he told me, was over a hundred years old. Lasse was very much more witty; he had a “spiel” of dialogue ready for the tourist that I was. He told me how the basic element of the violin had been integrated with this amplifier (it was made of aluminium) for the better carrying of the sound, in the days before microphones and loudspeakers (and, indeed, electricity) were in place.

“Do your children also play this?” I asked him. “No!” he said emphatically. “When a child learns an instrument, it’s cruel for everyone else around to hear it!” “But your parents somehow put up with the noise of *your* learning,” I laughed; and he laughed with me. “Regarding music…one of my daughters has a ear,” he said, and I nodded sagely, understanding about having a ear for music. Then, of course, he added, “The other one has TWO ears!” and laughed happily at having cracked a good joke!It was my turn to laugh with him!

I am trying to get the link to the newspaper article about them (it appears in the “Summer” supplement to the June 25/26 issue of “Linkopings Posten”). , if you could help me, I’d be very grateful, I’ve not been successful yet!

With the help of Google Translate, I’ve learnt that the two musicians have been playing at Gamla Linkoping for the past 32 years, but this is going to be stopped soon…sorry, I couldn’t wade through the entire article, typing it out on Google Translate!

Linkoping Cathedral, 200614

June 26, 2014

After looking at the Midsummer’s Eve celebration, I realized that the

Linkoping Cathedral

was not very far away, and we walked till the beautiful green-blue spires were near:




It was breathtaking to watch the main spire looming up into the sky:



The stained glass windows looked majestic from outside:


Through them, I could also see the effect of the stained glass as it would be if I entered the cathedral:


Here are two of the stained glass windows from the outside:


The side view of the Cathedral:


Some of the tall windows have been damaged,but the damage has been left wisely alone for the most part.


In just a few places, some refurbishment has been done:


A detail of the weather vane:


detail of the trellis work:


The awesome main spire:


The Diocese nearby:


How ironic that the school (Gymnastik) nearby incorporates the word “nastik”, which means “atheist” in Sanskrit!


Each entrance was imposing:



This was the main entrance:





The doors are, predictably, solid:


So are the locks (yes, the Cathedral was locked)


The walls are imposing against the sky:


The Museum was closed, too, when we reached:


Right next to the Cathedral is the Linkoping Palace:


The Linkoping flag has a tiger on it, which was very appropriate to someone from India!


Was this some kind of sundial? I couldn’t make out, and there is no mention in the Wiki:


Here’s PC, clicking it, too:


The road with the old coach houses:


The Cathedral as it reaches up to touch the summer sky:



It’s very frustrating not to be able to get enough (in English) about this beautiful building and its environs…translating everything from the Swedish is a frustrating job!

Heritage hits the dust…

May 3, 2014

I went to Langford Town, and was saddened to see another beautiful heritage home hit the dust on Oleff road.


This lovely bungalow, typical of old Bangalore architecture, set in small, lovely garden, was already half gone.


I tried to see if the year of construction was marked anywhere, but could not find it.


The solidity of the construction, and the high ceilings, can be seen:


How I wish I had the money to buy up such old homes, and maintain them in the old style! I could sit in them and dream about days when space in the city was not such a valuable commodity,that history had to be sacrificed on the altar of Mammon…

Banjaran, and name-bracelets, India Gate, Delhi, 260314

March 27, 2014

First my daughter had two Banjara girls, whom she asked to thread together various name beads for all of KTB’s friends at Urban Sprouts, the daycare back home:


The threads they used were so colourful:


As were the ornaments on the girls’ hands:




The beads cost Rs.2 each, and though the girls were illiterate, they asked for our help in stringing them together the right way:




You can see “ABIGAIL” being spelt out here:



While they did their work, corn-on-the-cob was shared:



Soon, word seemed to spread that here was a person who would pay well, and she seemed to be running an ethnic cottage industry on the lawns of India Gate!


My daughter finally had to walk away with others pestering her, but she was happy that she’d given them employment, at least for a while.


These Banjarans were so colourful…I wish their lives were as colourful, too!

An enjoyable evening of folklore and children’s theatre, 230314

March 23, 2014





Click here

to see my review of the evening (which was more than just the play), by Bangalore Little Theatre.

I’m glad I could show KTB a bit of children’s theatre in India!