Where beauty is truth
Grand stone pillars, a beautiful garden and traditional brass lamps, all lend a temple-like feel to ‘Mahanadi’, a house in Bangalore’s Kengeri satellite town. Bhumika Rajan visits the house and can only think of lines from a famous ode by poet Keats to describe it.
As I neared the house of danseuse and actor Vyjayanthi Kashi and her actor-husband Vijay Kashi, I wondered if I had reached a resort. Their home, built in a picturesque locale, away from the maddening clutches of Bangalore’s buzz and traffic, is a visual treat. The sound of birds chirping atop trees and plants inside this space, carved stone pillars which adorn various places inside the gate, give the Kashis’ home in Kengeri satellite town a temple-like ambience. Carved stone images of deities, small and big tanks with hase paintings welcome the visitor to ‘Mahanadi’.
Their home, which consists of a ground and a first floor, is built on a 55X40 site on a plot area of 30 guntas. The home speaks the language of elegance. Clay bricks have been used for construction in order to keep the house cool while Mangalore tiles give it an old-world charm. A combination of Sadarhalli stones, red and green oxide have been used throughout the structure. The house and the dance school have a ground and first floor each and natural stone slabs have been used for the stairs. On the road leading to the house and Vyjayanthi’s dance school, which adjoins the house, square stone slabs are placed, with a short layer of grass around it. A coconut shell that most of us might throw away without bothering to give a second thought is painted and hung to a tree.
Similarly, a broken, old coconut scraper is decorated with an antique piece of dance jewellery and a small piece of wood and placed near the door of the dance school. In front of the house stands a majestic stambha or a pillar. Simply put, art is churned out of nearly everything here. Whatever is mostly seen in a museum finds a place here.
On why she chose to build their home in the outskirts, Vyjayanthi journeys back in time and explains, “I am a Bangalorean who saw this City as a beautiful place with lots of greenery in my growing-up years. It was then less crowded and calmer. My husband’s native place is near Sagara and he also preferred to stay in a quiet and serene place. We were tired of the noise and pollution. Moreover, landlords of homes where I used to reside lacked aesthetic sense and could never appreciate an art form like dance. They considered our dance rehearsals a nuisance and disturbance. Owing to this I had to shift my home eight times. I began to feel frustrated and decided to stop teaching dance until I had a space of my own. It was then that I decided to build my home and dance school here and conceptualised it. We have been residing here since three years and feel at peace with the ambience,” says Vyjayanthi. The atmosphere of the place contributes to dance and vice versa, she adds.
Aesthetic and antique
Every nook and corner is decorated with curios that add to the elegance of the structure. A Nataraja statue with a brass lamp hanging in front of it, a stone bowl with an image of lord Krishna that is filled with water, another clay vessel filled with water and an image of a god, provide a majestic appearance. Deities have been engraved on doors and clay toranas and thin sheets of brass decorate them. A bunch of paddy straws are hung in front of the puja room and it does not have a roof covering it. It is visible from the floor above. Stone slabs are used on the steps in the dance school and inside the house.
“I always look out for little things and curios that are elegant and buy them without thinking about what to do with them. Wherever I travel, I pick up such things. Many people consider me crazy for spending a great amount of money on such things. But I have always been fond of antiques since a young girl,” she says.
In the first part of this space is the dance theatre and in the second part lies the house. On the first floor of the dance school, Vyjayanthi has made space for a guest house that is meant to accommodate visiting dancers and invitees. The rooms have been painted with patterns of hase chitra, on the walls. Curios and antiques placed in every part of this house and dance school, blend perfectly with the atmosphere. Images of Brahma and Nataraja adorn the walls of this dance school. Shells of some wild fruit which most people might throw away are painted, turned into decorative objects and placed in front of the dance school. Every corner has a traditional brass lamp. Also a long swing, rarely seen in homes today, is placed in the centre.
This house presents itself as an object of art, pleasing to the eye of the beholder. It would be apt to cite a few lines from the poem, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn,’ by a Romantic poet, John Keats, while speaking of Mahanadi. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”