Many colours of Kirangi

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Many colours of Kirangi

It is said that during the Indo-China war in 1962, the then Karnataka chief minister Veerendra Patil (1924-1997) visited Kirangi village in Gulbarga district in a State-wide campaign for raising funds for the government.

Hearing about the cause, the villagers of Kirangi reacted with a surge of patriotism and mobilised more than 100 tolas of gold within an hour and handed over the donation to Patil.

The chief minister was astounded by the prosperity of the village and thee large-heartedness of the community. He immediately gave Kirangi a new name: Honna Kirangi (honnu meaning gold).

Recently, we were driving through large tracts of land surrounding Honna Kirangi; acres and acres of rich, black soil seemed to touch the horizon. The sky was overcast as our host V G Andani, well-known artist and Head of Ideal Fine Arts College, Gulbarga explained that tur dal crop is drought resistant and could be harvested even with scanty rain.

Andani comes from a family of agriculturists. The artist in him has not taken away his interest in agriculture. “Tur dal is the only crop we grow in Gulbarga but what we produce is the best in the country,” he says with a perceptible sense of pride. From agriculture, our conversation slowly turns to rural life, art and architecture. He wants us to see his native village where he was born and brought up. Set amidst vast agricultural fields, Honna Kirangi, about 30 km from Gulbarga city, is a fairly large, bubbling and prosperous village.

Colourful structures
The beauty of Honna Kirangi lies in its colourful but sturdy buildings and hospitable people. At first glance, the visitor is struck by the varied colours on the walls of many residential buildings. Use of Shahabad stone slabs for both flooring and roofing adds its own charm.

Thanks to the ideal weight, texture and colour, the stone lends grace and solidity to these rural homes. Even the streets are cobbled and in some places, Honna Kirangi could probably match the looks of a tiny European rural hamlet!

Andani’s own multi-level ancestral home is large, well planned and prominently located. From the outside, it resembles a mini fortress. Inside, there are specific places for different activities. The cow shed, the fodder storage room, the open-to-sky central courtyard, the kitchen and dining areas…they are all well earmarked and spacious.

There are many homes like Andani’s in Honna Kirangi. Some of them are over hundred years old, we are told, and are still well kept. There are others which could do well with some repairs and maintenance. By and by, one also comes across dilapidated buildings whose time has come and gone.

Their ornate pillars, platforms and courtyards narrate their own stories of a glorious past and an uncertain future. The growing weeds in corners, cracking walls and shaky structures add poignancy to the abandoned look. It is obvious that the rich owners have found greener pastures in big cities – Gulbarga, Bangalore or Mumbai. They seem to have little or no interest in rehabilitating their old ancestral homes.

Residents of Honna Kirangi belong to different communities. There are a few mutts and temples, but one does not miss the church and the mosque, as well. There are no reports of communal tension or violence in the village.
Not all rosy
Not all localities are clean. Overflowing water and unplanned dump yards are not uncommon. The village also suffers from drinking water scarcity and fluoride contamination. Honna Kirangi was also in the news some time ago, when nearly 800 acres of fertile land was acquired by the government for setting up of a thermal power plant against the wishes of the farmers.

There are many striking features of Honna Kirangi’s homes but the one which stands out is the ornate entrance doors and the pair of horses which adorn their sides. We are told, in the good old days, many homes had real, graceful horses which were not only status symbols but also means of transport.

Honna Kirangi is a photographer’s delight. The rich colours and textures of the village homes and bylanes are captivating. Especially when the hot, humid and scorching summer has already passed by.

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