With modern technology taking over our rich cultural values are getting degraded slowly. It’s time for us to realize that going forward our values and heritage for which we were celebrated all over the world will only be seen in the museums.
The introduction of modern architecture, new raw materials, and consumer products have significantly changed people’s lifestyle but we hardly realize that our age-old traditional crafts and heritage building are steadily vanishing.
Modernity is useful and inevitable, but it should not come at the price of sacrificing tradition.
In this rapidly growing concrete jungle, cement and concrete have taken over every free natural material from our traditional ways of building houses. Copper and brass metals are being substituted with stainless steel, plastic, and other synthetics in our daily household chores.
Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village is one man’s vision to preserve our slowly disappearing art, craft, architectural traditions that are an integral part of our culture. All elegant houses and other structures of architectural merit and fine craftsmanship, which were on the verge of collapse or facing the threat of demolition and those that could not be retained in their original locations have been rehabilitated in the Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village through a process of their restoration.
When Mr. Vijayanath Shenoy a heritage conservationist decided to build his house in 1974 he wanted his new house to be built in a traditional way and not to indulge in the modern concrete company. So he traveled thousands of kilometers across Karnataka looking for traditional homes. Homes which upholds the traditional values, Home that speaks to nature. Home with Mud and straw walls, Mud and lime plastered. Home which brings together families and where the connection between the family and land could be sustained. Home protected from all the elements. Home simple and more elegant.
As he traveled he saw these homes being torn down to a modern age. He started collecting artifacts from these homes. Started with small vessels and then pillars, doors, windows and later the whole houses.
Mr. Shenoy bought all these artifacts which the owners considered as a “Junk” and used them to build himself a home.
Though built as his family home in the period 1985-1990 it was later vacated and sealed off after the privacy of Shenoy and his family was destroyed by the constant arrival of bus-loads of visitors, curious to see his remarkable home. This motivated Shenoy to build something bigger to showcase all his collections in a central place as a museum, thereafter dedicated his energy to setting up Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village, Manipal.
The initial house has been now converted into Children’s Museum which showcases a collection of toys and playthings, many of which were traditionally used in different parts of Southern Karnataka in the care of children from infancy onwards.
Currently, Heritage village is managed by Hasta Shilpa trust, over two decades the trust has restored and relocated around 26 structures of immense architectural merit and fine craftsmanship.
The 26 houses reassembled from ruined, abandoned mistreated bits, leftover pieces with awesome care amazing tenderness is to appreciate the vanished skills of a past generation.
Our guide Shushanth explains how creativity and traditionally these houses have been built as he shows around the village. Each house restored here is a minimum of 200 years old structure.
Some of the rich structures which are restored at Heritage Village are Kunjur Chowkimane, Hungarcutta Bansaale Mane, Veerashaiva Jungam Mutt, Harkur Oliganamane, Shringeri House, Byndnoor Nelvadi House, Hengavalli House, Vaderhobli house, and Vidyamadir.
While taking a stroll around the village you will be mesmerized by
- The beautiful old carved pillars, the red oxide floor adding a cooling element as you walk around barefoot. The goddess on the main door protecting the house.
- The intelligent locking technics on the doors.
- The houses built to support the day to day household, like the two kitchens in the Brahmins house where one is used for making the naivedya for daily pooja rituals where women are not allowed to enter.
- The sandalwood fragrance as you enter the traditional Kunjur Chowkimane where you can see the Banana leaf designs on the walls and the traditional Message table.
- The low windows which left the breeze in while keeping the lights out.
- The traditional kitchen with the wooden stoves and open attic, so that the smoke will cure the produce upstairs. Traditional kitchen tools and utensils.
- The window doors designed such a way that the landlord can monitor the labors from the inside whereas the people outside cannot see through the windows.
- The beautiful drawings on the walls using the colors made of vegetables.
- We can also note the windows designed to let the sparrows in and it’s just small enough only to let sparrow, not any other birds. Its a belief that if sparrows built their nests inside a home the family will grow.
Heritage Village is not complete, over the years the trust has collected many objects of art and craft and other relics which need to be displayed in a series of museums. Hasta Shilpa is a non-profit organization all the money collected via entry tickets donations etc goes for the development of the Heritage Village. You can do your bit by visiting this amazing place and spreading a word.
“All around me, heritage was being destroyed. Heritage needed to be saved and it found me.” – Vijayanath Shenoy