Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Janapada Loka and Lokaruchi

I had been to a visit to Janapada Loka a few days back. Janapada Loka, for the uninitiated is a 'folk village' situated on the route between Bangalore and Mysore. It has a few museums depicting rural art and crafts, paintings et al. There is an open air theater. The staff is very helpful, even knowledgeable, but it lacks life. The toilets are dirty.

Heres a profile :
Sprawling across 15 acres and idyllically located at Ramanagaram, 53 kms from Bangalore, on Bangalore-Mysore highway, this folk art world is a subsidiary of Karnataka Janapada Parishath dedicated to preserve and promote folk art and culture of Karnataka. This vast green belt area houses museums of folk objects, an art gallery, an open air theatre, a studio, and several areas marked for seminars, discussions and informal meetings.

Keenly interested in preserving and promoting the rich folk heritage of Karnataka, Janapada Loka reflects the essence of folk culture which includes literature, music, dance, theatre, festival, painting and life style.

Next door is a restaurant, Kamat Lokaruchi. This place, is an eatery, but it is positioned, very conveniently next to Janapada Loka, as a rural eatery. Almost like (actually better) the theme of Janapada Loka next door, the whole restaurant is designed to look like an oversized village house complete with a cow shed with cows. Inside, waiters in rural costumes display robot like efficiency. A fair cross section of Karnataka food like Ragi dosa, Mudde Idli can be experienced here. A traditional meal can be had on plaintain leaf sitting cross legged on the floor in a special section. Though it is a restaurant, there are small shops selling wooden toys (a speciality of the region) and a few other things. The toilets are clean.

The point is that, Lokaruchi is not Janapada Loka, but very often what peope get to see in Lokaruchi is what people want to see in Janapada Loka. Indeed at my first visit to this place some years ago, the person who was leading our tour did mistake the former for the latter. Janapada Loka is a good place, a concept with lots of potential. How about a real bullock cart? or a corn grinder? or a manual water pump? or a traditional meal served on plaintain leaves? The place can really offer so much more and all one has to do is look next door.

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