Pay homage to Karanth, gods and Vivekananda

Pay homage to Karanth, gods and Vivekananda


Pay homage to Karanth, gods and Vivekananda

A visionary’s house turned into a museum, temples steeped in ancient lore and a park dedicated to the teachings of a reformer, Saligrama has lots to offer, says Kushal V R.

A lot of determination and a little spadework from my father following his quest to know more about Dr Shivarama Karanth led us from Kota to a nearby small town called Saligrama, where he spent the last years of his life. We were guided to a brick red building. Looking up, we found bright white embossed letters saying Dr Shivarama Karanth Smriti Chitrashale (Dr Shivarama Karanth Research and Study centre) staring back at us. All our doubts were laid to rest once the door opened. We had come to the right place— the embodiment of Dr Karanth and his life.

Built in 2002 and maintained by Malini Mallya, the amanuensis and long-time secretary of the great writer, this place is the one stop point to learn all about Dr Karanth’s life.
The visitor is greeted by the reclining chair used by Dr Karanth. Placed neatly atop another chair and his writing table is a photograph of the writer and a collection of his personal items like pens, spectacles, watch etc encased in a display box. Various articles about the writer, interviews of Dr Karanth and Mallya, photographs of Dr Karanth in various Yakshagana postures, his interaction with eminent personalities, with his family members and of his dictating notes to Mallya are all displayed here. The entire museum extends across both the ground and first floor and includes the author’s various works, novels, studies and observations on Yakshagana, his autobiographies and books written about him by Mallya. Based on different rooms like dining, bedroom etc, items that were used by the author have been arranged in addition to photographs of him enjoying his lunch, taking a nap etc.

On the first floor, one gets a better idea of the range of activities and works of Dr Karanth. We learned that he was the proponent of the ballet style of Yakshagana. He was also involved in the translations of others’ works. He was instrumental in translating several volumes of the popular Amar Chitra Katha historical comic book series to Kannada.
There is also a library containing a vast collection of books. An auditorium, the Karantha Ranga built on the top floor, is regularly used for cond­u­cting seminars, plays and Yakshagana acts on some occasions. We next visi­ted the Guru Narasimha and Anj­a­neya temples in the same town. The Guru Narasimha Temple is about a 1,000 years old.

According to Padma Purana, the idol of Lord Narasimha made of Saligrama stone is an udbhava murthy (self-incarnate), holding a shankha and chakra in either hands. Narada who was passing by, heard a celestial voice that guided him to the spot and asked him to consecrate the idol there. According to Skanda Purana, a group of Brahmins, aided by Kadamba rulers, re-consecrated the idol in the prese­nt location. They anointed the god as Guru for the Brahmins of the surrounding 14 temples, thus giving him his title. Incident­a­lly, the town derives its name from the Saligrama stone of the idol, which faces west. 

Located exactly opposite is the Anjaneya Temple, a little distance away. Legend says due to the ugra nature of Narasimha, crops growing in his line of sight would get scorched. To calm his anger, an idol of Lord Hanuman was placed in his line of vision. Because of this, Hanuman’s idol is smeared with vermillion and butter to alleviate the heat radiating from Narasimha’s gaze.

Saligrama also has the Divine Park, located a little away from the bus stop on the highway. Set up in 1986 to spread the teachings of Swami Vivekananda by Dr Chandrashekhara Udupa, who was motivated by the life and teachings of Vivekananda, the meditation hall catches the eye first with its magnificent entrance. The three-storeyed building includes an auditorium, meditation hall and a gallery containing various aspects of Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sharada Mata’s lives.

How to get there

Saligrama is about 20 km from Udupi and lies on the NH-17(NH-66) between Udupi and Kundapura. Local buses are easily available and stop at Saligrama.  Interested visitors can also visit the Padukere beach, about three km from Saligrama.