Janapada Loka … quiet tribute to Kannada culture.

sksrinivas-kbellur-1-7I am constantly surprised by the richness and depth of our country’s folk culture – and equally dismayed at its chronic neglect.

Janapada Loka, a delightful little folk museum on the way to Mysore, represents a serious attempt to revive Karnataka’s dying folk arts.

sksrinivas-kbellur-1-2I’ve passed by this place several times on my birding field trips but never gave it a serious look, although Janapada Loka is right next to Kamat Lokaruchi, my favorite eating house on this route.

This time, armed with a decent camera, I paid a leisurely visit to Janapada Loka, and came away enlightened by the experience. Established in 1994 on a 15-acre estate by the late HL Nage Gowda, an Indian civil servant and Kannada folklorist, Janapada Loka has been designed to recreate life in a typical village in Karnataka. sksrinivas-kbellur-1-4

The place is dotted with artifacts, sculptures and other exquisite examples of Kannada folk culture.

Pause a while at the amphitheater in the company of the local geese. Stroll across to the Ganesha temple and the sculpture yard and pay particular attention to the collection of Veeragallu (hero-stones) that date back to the 15th century. Hero stones are unique to Karnataka, you won’t find them elsewhere in India.

sksrinivas-kbellur-1-3The centerpiece of Janapada Loka is the Loka Mahal. This well maintained folk museum exhibits ceremonial dresses, masks, pottery, weaponry and a whole lot of rural handicraft, collected from the four corners of Karnataka.

The helpful attendant inside Loka Mahal will be glad to give you a detailed description of every exhibit. Be sure to generously tip him. These guys don’t make much money.

Janapada Loka deserves at least an hour of your time. It’s open from 9.30 am to 5.30 am. on all days except Tuesday. Lunch time is from 1.30 to 2.30 pm. sksrinivas-kbellur-19

What you need to do is to land up at the place by lunchtime, have a robust, rustic lunch at Kamat Lokaruchi, that shares its wall with Janapada Loka. At 2.30 pm, walk into Janapada Loka, which will be empty at that hour, take a quiet snooze in one of the shady nooks inside, then go around the place at leisure. sksrinivas-kbellur-1

Bird lovers will note the pleasant trill of Tickell’s blue flycatcher, a resident species in Janapada Loka, among several others.

At around 4pm, sneak back into Kamat Lokaruchi through the small gate that links the two places, get yourself some piping hot Kannada tiffin and one strong kaapi, and then head home. One recommends the kadubu idlis and neer dosas.

Avoid weekends, strictly. You will have to fight your way inside Kamat Lokaruchi and parking will be a nightmare. On weekdays, everyone is relaxed, and you will have a good time in both places.

sksrinivas-kbellur-5Note that photography is freely permitted in Janapada Loka, except inside the Loka Mahal museum itself. For Loka Mahal alone, you will need to pay Rs.100/- for your camera. Otherwise, the fee is a mere Rs.20/-.

Janapada Loka is totally worth your time and money. Go. Enrich yourself.

Yeah. India rocks.

Cheers … Srini.

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