Traditional North Karnataka homes have caught the imagination of television buffs in the state these days, thanks to their depiction in popular Kannada serials and cinema.
Waades, as they are known in local parlance, have suddenly generated a lot of interest, for their grandeur and the history that surrounds them. My interest in these homes was triggered when filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli was on the lookout for a waade for his film Kanasemba Kudureyaneri based on writer Amaresh Nugadoni’s short story. I went in search of these waades with the writer, and found quite a few of them, some whitewashed and ready for television serial makers, some dilapidated, deserted, cobwebs and all, and then, some others renovated to suit modern lifestyles.
Among the several waades I stumbled upon was Deshpande’s waade in Gadag district’s Mulagunda. The 400-year-old house is said to have belonged to Aaadi Kavi Pampa’s ancestors in Hubli taluk. At one point, a particular room in the house was said to have a dozen millstones. The room was called the millstone room, Rajendra Deshpande of the waade had pointed out to me once. Today, there are no millstones in the house.
Another waade in Annigeri belongs to a certain Desai, who no longer lives there, but in a house constructed elsewhere in the village. The Chachadi waade in Belgaum district’s Savadatti taluk has a history of 800 years. Today, the 24th generation of the family headed by Nagaraja Eeshaprabhu Desai lives here. “There are references to our house in the Mumbai Gazetteer. Waades were built after shares of property were obtained from Belawadi Mallammma. The waades include Myala Chachadi, Tallur, Ingalagi, Rudrapur, Mutawada and Gontamara, all in Belgaum district,” explains Nagaraja. The first generation that lived in the Chachadi waade belonged to Veerabhadrappa Gunnappa Nayak Bahaddur, the great grandfather of Nagaraja. Bahaddur was the founder president of the KLE Society and a magistrate in those times.
“A court session was held in the waade every Sunday. Even post-Independence, court sessions were held,” recalls KPCC member Nagaraja. There were watch towers surrounding the waade. One tower houses a Narayana temple and an Eshwara temple. Another tower has a granary built in such a manner that it is discreet. As many as 500-600 bags of grains would be stored at the granary. Today though, it is not in use anymore. Also, such huge quantities of grain are not harvested anymore. Only Nagaraja and his wife live in the waade, while the children are studying in Belgaum.
Dating back to the Nizam period
Another remarkable house is the Tallur waade in Savadatti taluk of Belgaum district. “This was built by the Hyderabad Nizams in 1495. Later, it came into the possession of the Desagati family,” points out Prakash Patil, a relative of the family. The house has retained its grandeur till date. There is not an inch of damage visible anywhere. The interiors are whitewashed and kept spic and span. The house, built across one-and-a-half-kilometres of land, has many watch towers. There is a well in front of the house. A dip in the groundwater level has meant that the water in the well has fallen too.
There is a panchayat bench inside the house. Even five to six years ago, there were several cattleheads in the house that catered to the dairy requirements of the village. Waades are also called killas in some parts of North Karnataka.
The Kavalur waade in Koppal taluk is called a killa (in Marathi) because it resembles a fort thanks to its watch towers. Senior researcher M M Kalburgi explains that the word waade also originated from the Marathi word Maada.
The Kavalur waade belongs to the Patils. “Mallareddy migrated from Andhra in 1368 to Gulbarga district’s Bidari and then to Bilagi in Bagalkot district. His next generation Doddaveerappa Reddy Gouda and Sannaveerappa Reddy stayed back in Bilagi.
Doddaveerappa’s son Mallareddy Gouda came to Kavalur and became a local chieftain, taking control over seven villages. He was called Mali Patil by the locals and was in charge of collecting taxes under the Nizam’s rule.
Today, the waade constructed on four acres of land, has only three people living there. There is a temple dedicated to the deity Harihareshwara inside the waade. There are four watch towers. About 15 years back, there were over 100 cattle in the waade. Today, there are not that many,” says Jagadish Basanta Gouda Mali Patil, who lives there, and is the 17th generation of the family.
“There is a panchayat bench even inside this waade. Disputing villagers would settle their problems here. Today, no such sessions are conducted because people prefer police stations and courts,” explains Jagadish.
There is a similar waade at Gajendragadh in Gadag district, belonging to eighty-year-old Pratapsimha Ghorpade. The house has a history of 200 years. Ghorpade belongs to the 17th generation of the family that owned the house.
“The waade, constructed on seven-and-a-half-acres, has 17 watch towers. Elephants, horses and camels would be stationed in rooms built for them. All religious ceremonies of the village were performed at the waade,” explains Pratapsimha’s daughter Keerthi.
Today, six people live in the waade, whose structure has not been altered one bit. But, another such traditional house belonging to a relative of theirs is in a dilapidated state. Except the entrance, the rest of the house has been converted into a public toilet.
A relatively small waade in Gadag district’s Mundaragi belonging to Nadagouda is in a good condition, though. It sees a fresh coat of paint every year, according to 73-year-old Venkatrao Lakshmana Rao Nadagouda, a fourth-generation owner. The house, with a history of 300 years, first belonged to Bheemarao Nadagouda. “He participated in the mutiny against the British in 1857 at Koppal. He had the administrative power to rule over 54 villages in the region, and appoint officials such as Shyanbhogs and Patels,” explains Venkatrao, who is also the Block Congress President.
There are many such unexplored houses and territories in North Karnataka, and it is imperative that such traditional structures are well-documented.
(Translated by Savitha Karthik)