Tale of two memorials

lives of great men... Left: The house of Govinda Pai in Manjeshwar. Right: Mallikarjun Mansur’s house in Dharwad. Below: The tanpura at Mansur’s home and the awards exhibited at the memorial.

This is the story of two memorials for two great souls. Mallikarjun Mansur, the doyen of Hindustani classical music and litterateur Manjeshwara Govinda Pai.

Music lovers who visit Dharwad can now add one more important spot to their itinerary. The house of Mallikarjun Mansur, which has been converted into a memorial. It was in 1997 that the state government took ownership of the house and started a Trust. But the house had nothing except the awards that the great man had won over his lifetime of singing. But now, with Mansur’s hundredth birth anniversary just a couple of years away (December 2011), the memorial dons a new look.
There has been a fresh coat of paint, apart from several photos, (many of them, of vintage black and white) of the Hindustani master finding a place on the walls of the house. Also, one can listen to his music, as one walks around the house, taking in the beauty of the old photographs. Then, there is also the tanpura that he used.
All this was made possible thanks to the efforts of Dharwad’s Deputy Commissioner Darpan Jain, who is also the chairman of the Trust. The memorial has also been used to teach students interested in Hindustani music. However, the gurukul method of teaching music has still not taken shape here. The Trust wants to continue the legacy of the master who belonged to the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, and learnt music under the tutelage of Manjikhan Saheb under the gurukul method in erstwhile Bombay.

Gurukul system
The Trust plans to start gurukul classes under the guidance of Mansur’s son Rajashekhar Mansur, a master in his own right. There are also plans to start a well-equipped library. The Trust has sought financial aid worth Rs five crore from the state government so as to implement all these plans.

Govinda Pai memorial
Meanwhile, plans to convert the literary giant Manjeshwara Govinda Pai’s house into a memorial have moved at a snail’s pace. The poet’s house is located at Manjeshwar in present-day Kerala. Pai (March 1883- September 1963) was popularly known as Rashtrakavi. He was a great scholar and respected by people from both Kerala and Karnataka. The Manjeshwar residence is a library today. But, it is sad to note that there are hardly any visitors to the place. The Pai auditorium adjacent to the library is not well-maintained. The government college, a stone’s throw away is named after Pai, and is the only other sign of the man’s memory being retained in that state.
A couple of years after his death, several rare books from Udupi’s MGM College were taken to the Manjeshwar residence to start the Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai research centre. Apart from that, though, nothing much has happened in the state.

A cultural foundation
A plan to convert the residence into not just a memorial but a cultural foundation, was first formulated in March 2008, on the occasion of Pai’s 125th birth anniversary.
A committee has been formed to implement the plan. The committee, comprising 26 members, is to be given a helping hand by the Manjeshwara Govinda Pai Memorial Foundation headed by politician Veerappa Moily.
A Rs 1.4-crore action plan to renovate Pai’s house and make it a memorial has been chalked out.

The Kerala government has earmarked Rs 20 lakh, while the Karnataka government has allotted Rs 25 lakh, apart from Rs 13 lakh each from two legislators’ funds. A total of Rs 71 lakh, has thus been put together for the project.
Meanwhile,  one needs to wait and watch what actually happens to the memorial project named Gilivindu eventually.

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