It was around eleven in the morning when we reached- in a college-hired bus- the JanapadaLoka (literally, ‘Folk World’), located near Ramanagara in Bangalore-Mysore Highway on a sprawling 15 acres of land. JanapadaLoka is a distinguished representation centre for the Folklore tradition of Karnataka, architected by ShriNagegowda in 1994. As we got down from the bus we were warmly welcomed by a massive main door ‘Mahadwara’, which measures twenty feet and is adorned with horns, trumpets and Harige, and Nandidwajas made of brass standing on either side of the entrance path towering to a height of twenty six feet. The design of the door is a perfect blend of Shaiva and Vaishnava cult and a grinding stone with a poised woman is a befitting icon to the place.
As we enter inside the gate we find many writing boards on which the folk songs, riddles, proverbs are inscribed, bordering with the traditional Rangoli art, to give aesthetics of folk. A long pathway leads to huge inscription of the emblem of the JanapadaLoka, though it is an acre far from the main gate. We took the road that stretched towards the ChitraKuteera, a museum that has collected many attractive black and white pictures of festivals, arts, customs, music and theatre performances, and the portraits of the tribal people. The structure of the building is itself in the form of traditional Malenadu Mane with the red colored tiles and wall painted white, and the trees planted around the premises enhances the Malenadu aesthetics.
The second ‘loka’, each building is called as ‘loka’, was Shilpamala that represents the memorial stones dating back to a period more than four hundred years ago - identified as Veeragallu (honoring war heroes), Sathigalu (honoring faithful wives) and Gokallu (honoring the traditional beloved cow), along with the many other idols of worship displayed here with serenity. Further, we reached the LokaMahal, a two storied building that displays real size dolls dressed as Yakshagana artists, coorgi couple, pied piper, vokaaligas, and the arms and weapons. The Bhoothada Gallery has dolls of ghosts made of wood and stone, and information related to the superstitious beliefs and myths. Special dolls made for folk theater -Togalugombegalu or leather puppets, string puppets, rod puppets apparels of Badagutittu and TenkutYakshagana artists, Ganjeefa art pieces(playing cards), children's playthings, Soma and Harige and other masks exhibited here capture the interest for the folk culture and art.
The Aayagararamala is an artificial village house that exhibits the tools of rural vocations like pottery and smithy, sugarcane juice extractor, oil extractor, fishing nets and so on. It also exhibits the weapons used for hunting, a bullock cart etc. Along the line we also did find an Open air theatre for the folk art forms and the artificial lake for children. A video scope theatre showing the art forms and culture documentaries, SaraswatiMandira, a library for the folk literature and culture students and scholars was also seen.
Later we saw the Alasuru chariot, a very beautiful and delicately carved, earlier a part of Someshwara Temple, Bangalore that held a significant historical importance- but now it is slightly damaged due to the fire accident. Hence it is regarded as inauspicious for puja. The chariot thus discarded was brought here in 1995 and its full form is preserved under the Karnataka JanapadaParishad. and preserved after conservation and displayed for its beautiful and delicate carvings.
The English Honours batch of 2015 took great pleasure in enjoying the aesthetic as well as informative trip along with the delicacies served in JanapadaLoka, in the traditional banana leaves, and the discussions which took place during the bus ride back home.