If there is one place that showcases the folk and rural culture of Karnataka in its entirety, it is the Janapada Loka folk art museum in Ramnagar. At a distance of just about 50 km from Bangalore, this museum has over 5000 artifacts on display. It was founded by H L Nage Gowda whose dedication to the cause of preservation of rural arts and crafts is truly commendable.
Located on the Bangalore Mysore highway, you are greeted by the imposing yet colorfully decorated blue gates of the complex. With murals of trumpets and parrots and an expressive mask in the centre, the door truly serves as a fitting preview to the treasures inside.
The sprawling 15 acre complex is divided into sections namely the Lokamatha Mandira, Chithra Kuteera and Loka Mahal among others.
The Lokamatha Mandira is a great revelation into the tools of the yesteryears including those used for cooking, trade and agriculture. The gallery has been divided into sub sections according to the purpose and utility of the objects displayed.
The kitchen section is devoted to various kinds of utensils, rangoli and vibuthi trays, plates and grinders used during the days of the yore. The jars, ladles and measures used during the good old days are also on display.
I loved the stoves, vermicelli board and noodle press below!
The household utilitarian objects include furniture, lamps, cradles and boxes. The section dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandry has several kinds of weighing balances, feeding tubes and harvesting tools.
I enjoyed seeing the various kind of traps used to catch animals like bandicoots and boar as the bells that were hung around cattle. Each bell is different and make a unique sound so that identification of the individual animals was easy!
The Chitra Kuteera is an insight into the life and times of Nage Gowda. The gallery is decked with innumerable pictures of his literary achievements as well as several cultural activities native to the state. The rare photographs depicting the tribals of the state, their dances and traditions is one of its kind. There are several pictures related to folklore including the fisherwomen folk dance, ‘tharle barle‘, gondas dance and harvest dance of the Halakki vokkaligas.
My favorite segment was the Loka Mahal which has an exclusive collection of artifacts related to folklore. The life size puppets, dolls, masks are just stunning.
There are displays of swords, spears, mythical animals and matrimonial items. The section dedicated to puppets including leather puppetry and the way it works which is truly fascinating. South Karnataka’s Yakshagana and its varied forms are depicted wonderfully.
Our guide Malliah, an extremely talented folk artist himself explained the exhibits in detail and also treated us to a wonderful folk song performance. His knowledge and passion towards folk art is nothing short of incredible.
All in all, a great place for a half day visit. Museum Location: Bangalore – Mysore Highway, State Highway 17, Ramanagar District, Doddamannugudde Forest, Karnataka 562159