The hands that build marvels

They say that with a little encouragement, one can do just about anything. This holds true for Govindappa, who has made a name for himself through his carpentry skills.

He recently took to carving and builds models of well-known architectural landmarks out of teakwood. These are big enough to be put in a showcase. What sets Govindappa apart from the rest is that he has had no formal training in the field whatsoever.

The journey started six years ago when he envisioned the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, built a model of it and received press coverage for it. His son, Somashekar, says that his father was encouraged after he realised there are people out there interested in his hobby.

“He does it for time-pass. In the beginning, we (the family) thought he was just wasting time and didn’t pay any attention to him when he used to spend hours together in his room carving. But once he finished the Ram Mandir and we saw how beautiful it looked, we realised he had real talent,” he adds.

Even the greatest builders use blueprints while working but this extraordinary man uses nothing but his memory.  His father recently decided to make a replica of the Vidhana Soudha, which was a few feet bigger than the ‘mandir’. “He used to play in front of the Vidhana Soudha as a kid when it was being constructed. So he has seen it for a long time now,” says his son.

This is the only model that hasn’t been built of teak. “We used plaster of Paris for this — this one is special to my father,” he adds.

The reason he uses teak and nothing else is because it is supple and easy to carve. “And we haven’t had to buy any of the teak so far because we used to own a label-making machine and it had teak legs — once we shut down our business, we broke down the machine and my father uses the wood from that for his hobby even today.” Govindappa used to make clothes’ labels but is now retired.

So far, he has made five well-known models and two models of his own house. His son attempted making a replica of Mysore’s Jaganmohan Palace. The family doesn’t believe in selling these items. “Why would you sell something like this? This is the product of a very unusual skill and you can’t hand it out to  everyone,” asks his son says.

But they are considering donating one to a children’s museum. Govindappa used to receive requests to make models. But he turned them down. Now he is up for the challenge and looks forward to carving as much as he can.

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