Decked Up With Golu Dolls: Jayanagar Market

We love, love, love the old-world market in Jayanagar! It has never failed to amaze me – with its colours and smells and hustle and bustle, with its ability to keep abreast of the latest of fashions, with its way of showing how the old can effortlessly co-exist with the new.

We noticed a huge number of golu dolls on display, at various stalls in the market yesterday, while running an errand. I was fascinated by all of it, and couldn’t resist whipping out my camera and clicking away.

I found myself wishing I knew more about Indian mythology, especially Tamil, so that I could understand each of the dolls on display. It also had me wishing we had a golu at home every year, just so I could pick up some of these colourful, gorgeous beauties. What works of art they were! And, you know what? The dolls here weren’t just any golu dolls – there was just about every kind of doll imaginable on display here, from breastfeeding mothers and vegetable vendors to couples getting married and Kumbhakarna sleeping! Yes! See for yourself!

Here are some of my snaps of the Jayanagar market’s golu doll stalls.

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I simply loved the expression of peace and contentment on Mirabai’s face!
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Rajasthani couple – aren’t they just adorable?
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I couldn’t be happier to see this beautiful doll of a mother breastfeeding her child – such a natural, essential part of our society, yet so little talked about!
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A Marathi bride, I think. I loved the way she has been depicted here!
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Rama dolls!
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Kumbhakarna sleeping away to glory! Cute, right? Brought a smile to my face, all right.
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The famous Mahabharata scene
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Not sure what this doll depicts, but I loved it nonetheless!
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There were all these little Krishnas hanging from the air – whattay sight it was!
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Ladies washing clothes, bathing and filling water at a hand pump. Beautifully done!
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A lady grinding spices in her kitchen, using an old-fashioned mortar and pestle
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The cheerful vegetable vendor
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Andal, I guess. I was super-duper fascinated by this doll!
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Simply loved this lady-peeking-out-of-her-door!
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Baby Krishna being carried to safety
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Chettiar and Chettichi bommai – I have a special soft corner for these dolls!
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I have no clue about what these dolls are, sadly, but I was fascinated by them nonetheless.
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Mommy cow and baby cow!
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Ramar Seeta kalyanam – i.e. Rama and Seeta’s wedding
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Cute, cute, cute little Krishna stealing butter out of his mother’s pots and pans!
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Another doll that I was utterly fascinated by, in spite of having no clue about it at all

That’s it for now, folks!

I would have loved to have gawped endlessly at these treasures, click a lot more pictures, and, maybe, even buy a couple of them, but couldn’t manage more than this. That said, I am super glad to have caught at least this glimpse of the Jayanagar market all decked up for Dassera. It was a gorgeous sight, I would say. A great time to visit the market, I would add, armed with your cameras, of course!

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Postcards From Channapatna, The Land Of Toys

Like I was telling you in a recent post, I am so very glad we managed to make a pit-stop at Channapatna on the way to Mysore, and pick up some wooden toys for Bubboo. It was something I had dreamt of forever, and I am thrilled we got to it at least now.

For your visual pleasure, here are some snapshots from our visit.

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Colourful rocking horses on display at a store in Channapatna
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Wooden stacking rings!

For the uninitiated, Channapatna, a town about 60 km away from Bangalore, is home to hundreds of craftsmen who produce a special kind of wooden toys and artifacts that is unique to this place. For me, the town felt like a wonderland of sorts – I lost myself in all the gorgeous toys available here, in chatting with the craftsmen, and trying to decide which toys to pick up for Bubboo (and myself!) and what to avoid.

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Aren’t these musicians adorable?!
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Wooden tops on sale at Channapatna

Apparently, the origin of these toys can be traced back to the reign of Tipu Sultan, who arranged for artisans from Persia to teach the villagers of Channapatna the art of making wooden toys. This art has stayed in the town all this while, with generations after generations of craftsmen learning how to make them. Sadly, though, due to lack of sufficient marketing, the town is facing a financial crunch, relieved somewhat by organisations like Varnam spreading the glory of these ancient toys far and wide. Varnam sells these toys at its Indiranagar, Bangalore, outlet as well as online, but I would say there’s nothing like buying them directly from Channapatna, right from the craftsmen who make them. Like I was saying earlier, that is an experience worth giving to your kids, of introducing them to the very ‘Aunty’ or ‘Uncle’ who made the toys they are going to be buying.

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More rocking horses! Just look at that variety, will you?
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Wooden rattles on sale at Channapatna

Original Channapatna toys are made of durable wood and are lacquered using natural, vegetable-based dyes. They don’t have sharp edges, and their designs are fool-proof, easy to use for a child but difficult for one to break. So, ideally, these are the best kind of toys that you can get for your kids, right? There are several Chinese imports available everywhere these days – from supermarkets in Bangalore to stores in Channapatna itself – so you need to be wary of not picking up those. I am told that the original Channapatna toys are easy to identify – a) they come in earthy, natural colours like red and yellow and orange and green, unlike their mostly pink and purple Chinese counterparts, b) they have a beautiful, glossy, lacquered finish to them, and c) when in doubt, you could always have a heart-to-heart with the craftsmen of Channapatna themselves.

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Chettiar bommai!
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I fell in love with these giraffe!

The minute you enter Channapatna, by road, you will find a huge signboard welcoming you to ‘The Land Of Toys’. Even before you enter Channapatna, though, you will begin to see stalls by the roadside selling colourful wooden toys that you will, no doubt, be tempted to photograph. Wait till you get to the town, and you will get even more enchanted. You will find wooden toys and artifacts everywhere, in shops small and big. You will find small factories making these toys, and craftsmen hard at work. You will find people making these toys right outside their homes, because that is how small this industry is. You will want to buy all of these toys, and you will be able to buy a good number of them too, because the rates here are way, way, way lesser than what you would find elsewhere. You will find these craftsmen smiling at you and welcoming you to visit the place where they make the toys because, hey!, there’s nothing to hide. You will find a whole lot of shops on the highway itself, shops that are nothing fancy but very basic and old. I hear that if you decide to make a little detour deep into the town, though, you will be richly rewarded with sights of even more toy-making.

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Wooden back-scratcher, anyone? 🙂
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Just look at that book holder, will you? Can’t say I wasn’t tempted to buy one!

 

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Traditional Indian walkers for babies, aka nadavandi

We didn’t manage to get deep into the village, and were only able to explore the stores on the highway, but then, that was a treat in itself. The sheer variety of toys on display in these stores is mind-boggling! It was a Sunday when we visited, so most toy factories were closed – the stores were open – so I couldn’t get any pictures of the toy-making itself. I am sure that is something I would deeply enjoy, so, the next time around, I am planning a trip to Channapatna alone so I could indulge in some ogling at the making of wooden toys. Till then, I will dream on…

If you haven’t been to Channapatna yet, though, you absolutely must plan a trip, especially if you have a kid. I urge you to. I am sure you will not regret the visit. If you plan to visit the factories, though, try not to visit on a Sunday.

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I hope you have read (and enjoyed) my previous posts about this trip already. If you’ve not, please do the deed right away!

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore

A walk through RK Narayan’s house in Yadavgiri, Mysore

10 reasons why I enjoyed breakfasting at Malgudi Vattika, Mysore Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons Why I Enjoyed Breakfasting At Malgudi Vattika, Mysore Road

Remember I was telling you guys, in a post some time back, how our recent trip to Mysore turned out to be an RK Narayan exploration of sorts? Everywhere we went on this trip, we kept finding references to RK Narayan – for instance, Malgudi Vattika on Mysore Road, the eatery where we halted for breakfast, by chance, a little while after we started.

Today, I am going to tell you why I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Malgudi Vattika, an eatery that has very recently started shop. Here’s why you should totally visit the place too.

  1. It is a place where real life and the bookish world collides.

I love it when real life and books collide. Malgudi Vattika is one such collision. I’m not sure if the eatery has any kind of connection with RK Narayan’s family (the OH had the feeling it was that way!), but Malgudi Vattika is definitely a tribute to the author, his best-known work Malgudi Days, and the era in which the book is set in.

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A wall in Malgudi Vattika, painted with scenes from Malgudi Days
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A quote by RK Narayan, etched in stone, at the entrance to Malgudi Vattika

The place has an old-world ambience and the decor is from another era, reminiscent of the time in which Malgudi Days is set in. The tops of all the tables here hold scenes from RK’s books, and they are very tastefully done, I thought.

2. It is a green, green, green oasis.

Before we visited, we had no idea that Malgudi Vattika was such a lovely, lovely place. I don’t know why, but we were expecting it to be just another roadside dhaba. But a roadside dhaba it was so not! The minute we walked in, we were charmed by just how green and spacious the place was.

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One of the outdoor seating areas at Malgudi Vattika

The place is super spacious, a green haven, an eclectic, tastefully decorated spot which was a delight to breakfast in. Once you are in, you will forget that you are in the midst of a busy highway.

3. It is a lovely place to unwind.

Malgudi Vattika has a lot of sit-outs, here and there, so people can sit and unwind and chat and play games and talk and what not. In the kind of ambience that the place has, in the midst of all that green, you cannot help but relax. It is a great place for couples, people with kids, big families and groups of friends or colleagues to dine out.

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An antique seat in the midst of one of the landscaped lawns
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Fancy a nap on that seat there? I sure did!

Bubboo had a gala time playing on the beautifully landscaped lawns. We relaxed so much here, spent so much time, that we almost forget we were en route to Mysore! 🙂

4. Oh, the antiques!

The eatery is full of antiques – relics from a time gone by. The husband and I found much to gawk over, talk over and admire here – an old, old idli cooker, an ancient table fan, a quaint typewriter, a gramophone, a huge camera from those days, and trunks that seemed to have gone on real ship voyages more than once (parts of the label on them was still attached!). I cannot not be charmed by things like these, right?

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The trunks!
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An ancient table fan and utensils in Malgudi Vattika
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An old gramophone on display at the eatery
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Cuteness!

 

And you know what the best part is? Each of these antiques is placed just right, well cared for, adding to the atmosphere of the place without making it feel cluttered. With so many relics around, it is easy for an eatery to start feeling like a museum, but Malgudi Vattika does it perfectly.

5. The bits and pieces of quirk are worth a dekko.

Whoever did the decor of Malgudi Vattika is surely very, very talented.

Apart from the carefully chosen antiques, there are bits and pieces of quirk throughout the eatery, which I loved gawping at. For instance, a roof decorated with straw winnows and dining tables made out of old sewing machines.

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A roof decorated with straw winnows at Malgudi Vattika
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Such a lovely table – made out of an old sewing machine!

6. I was charmed by the old-world feel of the place.

Malgudi Vattika is a place where you feel that you feel time hasn’t gone by at all. You feel like you are in a different world, the one that was years and years ago. This is thanks to the decor, mostly.

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A horse carriage (sans horse) from bygone times, at the entrance to Malgudi Vattika

Most of the food is served in heavy, old-fashioned copper utensils. The menu is wooden, the shape of a hand-held fan, the kind that was used to fan maharajas and maharanis in the olden times.

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Just look at that dining room, will you?

Actually, we did find the service here a bit tardy, though we visited in the morning and the place wasn’t crowded at all, but then we didn’t mind that at all. We were busy unwinding, watching Bubboo enjoy herself, and admiring the place.

7. The food was lovely.

As we later got to know, Malgudi Vattika is best known for its South Indian thalis, particularly on weekends. The place has also recently started serving Marathi snacks – like vadapav and sabudana vada – in the evenings.

Since we visited the place in the morning, we ordered from the ‘Breakfast’ section of their menu. We went with two rava onion masala dosas, a cheese masala dosa and a pineapple kesari, all of which was perfectly cooked and tasted absolutely delish. Now, I can’t wait to try out their thalis!

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Rava onion masala dosa at Malgudi Vattika, served with saagu
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Cheese masala dosa at Malgudi Vattika
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Pineapple kesari at Malgudi Vattika

I must tell you that the prices of the food are definitely on the higher side, here. Our breakfast cost us INR 280, high, but, I would say, a sum I wouldn’t mind paying just for the experience of dining here.

8. I fell in love with their outdoor seating areas.

Malgudi Vattika has several seating areas, and you can choose where you would like to sit, depending upon the time of day you visit. There’s a lovely, big, old-fashioned room with a lot of tables, a fairly large-sized covered patio, and a couple of outdoor sitting areas.

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Dinner by lamp light, anyone? I was utterly charmed by this private little outdoor dining area!

I especially loved one particular sitting area of theirs, which is sort of private, with lanterns strung above them. It would make for a just perfect spot for a romantic dinner with a loved one! Sigh!

9. It is super spacious.

Unlike most other restaurants, Malgudi Vattika is super spacious.

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The covered patio at Malgudi Vattika, which is where we chose to sit

We had a lovely time just roaming around the property, looking at this and that. There is plenty of space to sit, and I am sure the place doesn’t feel cramped, even on days when it is crowded. Got to love that, right?

10. It is a photographer’s delight.

All those antiques, all that greenery, and lovely food – photographing all of that has got to be a joy! I went crazy with my camera here, shooting away.

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A gorgeous antique kitchen cabinet that was used to place plates and sauce bottles on
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The copper jugs and tumblers that are used to serve water in

If you love photography too, this place should be on your hit list, definitely!

A visit to Malgudi Vattika is highly recommended, if you haven’t been already.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are entirely mine. I don’t have any commercial gain to make by recommending this eatery to you. We loved the place to bits, and would love to visit again, and I cannot not recommend it to you!

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Do check out my other posts about Mysore!

A visit to the Mysore zoo

Chocolate paan, from Mysore, with love

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore

A walk through RK Narayan’s house in Yadavgiri, Mysore

A Walk Through RK Narayan’s House In Yadavgiri, Mysore

I find it somewhat strange how our recent, planned-at-the-last-minute trip to Mysore turned into a sort of exploration into the life of Indian writer RK Narayan. Just a little way into the trip, purely by chance, we stopped for breakfast at a restaurant reminiscent of RK’s Malgudi Days. Once we reached Mysore, we realised that the author’s house was a few paces’ walk away from where we were staying! And then, as we explored Mysore, we began to discover that almost every place we visited had some or the other connections with RK. Spooky, but I am glad this happened. Otherwise, I might never have gotten around to visiting RK Narayan’s house and knowing the author a little better.

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The board at the entrance to RK Narayan’s house

RK Narayan, best known for his book Malgudi Days, especially the unforgettable character of Swami, lived for some part of his life in Yadavgiri, Mysore. The two-storey house stayed in a state of neglect for quite a few years, after everyone from the author’s family moved away from it, one after the other.

The house was just about to be razed down, in 2011, when a group of people recognised the immense value that it held and started a protest against the bulldozing. More and more people went on to join the protest, the media took notice, and then, a decision was taken to not destroy the house, but to restore it to its former glory and make it into a museum showcasing paraphernalia from RK Narayan’s life and times (October 10, 1906 to May 13, 2001). Sad that places like this are considered to be of no value, and that people have to fight for its restoration, but at least, the restoration happened! And, it is a very well-done restoration, too. Today, the house has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with fans of the author visiting so as to get a peek into the life of their favourite author for a brief while.

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RK Narayan’s two-storey house in Yadavgiri

Personally, I am not a big fan of the author. I rather enjoyed watching Swami in the TV version of Malgudi Days – and that is the face I remember when I think of Swami. As for the author’s books, I found them quite dry and dull. But then, the lives of authors and the way they find inspiration for their stories always intrigues me, and for that reason, I loved visiting this place.

Apparently, RK Narayan came from an affluent Tamilian household, and his house is testimony to his family’s financial status. It is quite spacious, well ventilated, airy and full of light. We saw pictures of this very same house in its sad state of disrepair, and judging by that, the restoration team has done a wonderful, wonderful job.

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A photograph of the author with his wife

One room in the house is devoted to black-and-white photographs from the author’s life – the school he went to, one of him as a little boy with his parents, one with his wife, one of him with his wife and daughter, and so on. On display are also the various degrees that the author was awarded and the awards he received, including the prestigious Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. In bits and pieces, a number of placards tell the story of RK Narayan’s life, rather tragic if you ask me, with him going against his family and society to marry the girl he loved, only for her to pass away just a short while into their marriage, and then, later with his daughter also passing away before him.

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RK Narayan’s collection of books

Another room in the house has built-in-the-wall bookshelves that hold the books the author has read, during his lifetime, as well as the many different ones he has written. Quotes by the author, at different times in his life and from his books, also adorn the walls.

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A quote by RK Narayan. How true, right?

Stills from the TV serials and movies that have been made out of his books are also displayed.

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Stills from the TV version of Malgudi Days, the work for which the author is best known

I simply loved what once was the author’s study, with huge windows letting in the sunlight and a table in the centre, where, I am guessing, he used to sit and read.

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The author’s study. Fascinating, is it not?

The original kitchen, bathroom and storeroom in the house have also been retained, just as they were all those years ago. There definitely was an air of old-worldiness surrounding these rooms, and I could not help but imagine how the author and his family would have gone around their daily chores in this house.

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The original kitchen in the house, now stands restored

Another room in the house exhibits the clothes and glasses that RK wore during his lifetime, all lovingly preserved. There are photographs of him wearing these very same clothes and glasses. Apparently, the author was a very simple man who didn’t believe in hoarding possessions, and his simple belongings reflect that, as well as the times he lived in.

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A winter coat that the author used to wear

The husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the author’s house, leisurely going through each and every thing on display, and trying to piece together what his life might have been like. If you are a book lover and love peeking into the lives of authors, I would highly recommend a visit to this place, irrespective of whether you are an RK Narayan fan or not.

The house remains open to the public on all days of the week, from 10 AM to 5 PM. There are no entry fees. All you are expected to do, at the end of your visit, is enter your comments/suggestions into a guest book placed at the reception.

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Do check out my other posts about Mysore!

Chocolate paan, from Mysore, with love

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore