Cherishing a Tulu legend

local heroes

Cherishing a Tulu legend

There may be very few people from coastal Karnataka who wouldn’t have heard about Koti-Chennayya, the legendary twin heroes, who lived in the district of Dakshina Kannada about 450 years ago (said to be between 1556 AD and 1591 AD). Owing to their heroic deeds, they are worshipped even today in more than 230 garadis, mainly by Billavas. Their Adi Garadi exists in Enmur of Sullia taluk in Dakshina Kannada district.

Though lakhs of kids would have grown up listening to the heroic deeds of twin brothers Koti and Chennayya, from their parents and grandparents in the last 450 years, there was no major attempt by authorities concerned to preserve the rich cultural heritage of their legacy, until former home minister Dr V S Acharya decided to build a theme park in their honour.

Subsequently, a 100-acre land was identified near Karkala in which a beautiful Koti Chennayya Theme Park has come up in about 2.6 acres of land and the same was inaugurated by the then chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda on January 28, 2012.
Incidentally, there are twin-trees at the entrance of the park that are widely known to represent the twin heroes and have been still retained.

Retaining treasures
Though it’s more than two years since the Park was opened for public, still not many are aware of it. It’s a treasure trove of the rich cultural heritage of Tulunadu.
As one enters the park through the huge main door, Ane Bagilu (elephant door) which is 11 feet in height, one is attracted by the different engravings depicting coastal life during the yesteryears. Be it farm activities, toddy tapping, cock fighting, kambala (buffalo race), festivals of coastal region, nagabana and pig hunting, every activity gives a clear picture of the life of people living in the region a few hundred years ago.

The huge statues of Koti and Chennayya, sculpted on a white granite obtained from Tumkur, which measures 10 feet tall are appealing. A closer look at the statues would give a clear picture of Koti and Chennayya, their physique, their strength and their charm.
Once you enter the Museum, it will take you back to 1550s. You can get glimpses of Koti and Chennayya’s birth, their childhood, their lifestyle, their struggle for survival and
finally their death.

Quite interestingly, as you move on in the Museum, you can enjoy detailed paintings that have been placed on the left side of the wall. On the right side, various artifacts of the yesteryear have been displayed. The Kannada & Culture department has been entrusted to maintain the Museum and has been putting in a lot of efforts in collecting rare articles of the bygone era.

“So far, we have collected a few hunting equipments, different types of sickles used for toddy tapping, bronze vessels, swords, chennemane (wooden plank pits), baskets, wooden musical instruments, a boat, wheels of bullock cart, different types of idols, mantapa (where god’s idols are kept) and a number of other articles which cannot be found easily anywhere else today,” says Damodar Kalmadi, the President of Shree Brahma Baidarkala Samskrithika Adyayana Prathistana, who is in charge of the theme park.

Explaining interesting stories behind each and every aspect of the theme park, as well as life of Koti and Chennayya, Kalmadi is of the opinion that over 50 different PhDs could be produced based  only on the life of the twin heroes of Tulunadu. Interestingly, out of the 100 acres plot, 27 acres have been set aside for Koti Chennayya’s folklore university, a reality if the necessary grants are released.

“While 45 acres will be reserved for Dayee Baidithi (mother of Koti-Chennayya) Medicinal Plant Garden, 25 acres will be reserved for Koti Chennaiah Theme Park (at present only 6 acres have been developed),” Damodar informs.

Model garadi
The Park also has a model garadi (now known as gymnasium) which is built as per the tradition, 42 feet long, 21 feet wide and 10.5 feet tall. Since devotees except priests cannot enter the sanctum sanctorum of a real garadi, this model garadi will help visitors experience the real thing.

There are 230 garadis in total, spread over three districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasargod with Adi Garadi in Enmur, where the valiant heroes died in a war with Ballals.

Two movies have been made on Koti Chennayya, the first one in 1973 (black and white) directed by Vishu Kumar, with evergreen songs and it was also the first history-based Tulu movie. While the lyrics were penned by Kannada litterateurs Prof B A Vivek Rai and Prof Amrut Someshwar, the songs were sung by late P B Srinivas.

The movie was remade in 2007. Besides, a number of plays, serials and yakshagana performances have been staged and are still being staged with the same title.
In fact, Koti-Chennayya Theme Park, built to spread the message of the twin heroes of Tulunadu, who have left a lasting imprint in the history and folklore of coastal districts, is a fitting tribute to the valiant heroes. A visit to the park would bring alive the glorious past of Tulunadu.

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