Off the beaten path

Off the beaten path

Off the beaten path
For many Bengalureans, taking a road trip to Mysuru is not rare. Driving down 150-odd km between the two cities can be a wonderful experience provided the highway is not clogged with traffic. But that is like asking for too much, isn’t it? However, if you are looking to make your drive down to Mysuru more memorable, consider visiting a few mesmerising places along the highway. This can be enjoyable and convenient if you have a vehicle at your disposal. All you need is a couple of extra hours to spend before reaching your final destination.

Splash of colours

When you reach Channapatna taluk, get off the highway and look for villages which have become synonymous with the colourful Channapatna toys. One such village is Muniyappanadoddi in Kasaba hobli. In the narrow bylanes here, you will see houses-cum-production centres engaged in designing, chiselling and coating lacquer on finished wooden toys, mainly dolls. You can freely walk into any house or shed where the toys are made. Artisans are used to having visitors and explain in detail the toy manufacturing process. They also sell them at prices which are much cheaper than those sold in highway shops.

Around 3,000 to 4,000 artisans are engaged in toy manufacturing in the villages of Channapatna. One such artisan entrepreneur is Raju, who is also a licensed toy artisan. He sells toys to shops in Channapatna, showrooms in Bengaluru and participates in handicraft exhibitions across the country.

Raju says that earlier, many artisans used to directly export their products. But over the years, the business has taken a hit because of shift in trade policies. Still, the artisans and shop owners have found ways to export through middlemen. It is said that Tipu Sultan encouraged the making of these toys. According to Raju, the most sought-after toys are colourful buguries (tops), key chains, bangles, kiti-kitis and pattada gombes. The toys are safe for children as organic colours are used and the finished product does not have any rough edges.

After this, visit Channapatna Crafts Park, a State government initiative. Hundreds of traditional artisans can be seen engaged in the production of lacquerware here. It is spread over 14 acres and offers wood working machines for artisans.  

For a refreshing drink

After driving out of Channapatna, go to the elaneeru (tender coconut) market of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) in Maddur. This is the biggest exclusive tender coconut market in India. Spread over six acres, it borders the highway near Maddur town. Here, around five to seven lakh tender coconuts are traded per day during the peak season, while during a drought year, the number drops to about one to two lakh, estimates Shrikanth Prabhu, secretary, Maddur APMC. The yard gets tender coconuts from the farmers of Mandya, Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts. From here, traders purchase in bulk and transport to different cities. Bengaluru alone gets around 30,000 tender coconuts everyday from this yard.

According to Shrikanth, the market functions at its peak for about 100 days every year. He further adds that about 4,000 people are dependent on the market for their livelihood.

Vantage point

Next, stop at Doddabyadarahalli, a village located near Pandavapura in Mandya district. This is a less-explored place and is about 13 km from Pandavapura town. The village’s plus point is Brahmalingeshwara Betta. It is about 400 metres from the ground and has steps. From the hillock, you can get a panoramic view of Pandavapura nestled amidst paddy and sugarcane fields.

The attraction on this hillock is a mantapa, which resembles a small cottage. However, it is kept locked. Revanna T M, a gram panchayat assistant in this village, says, “The mantapa has no name as such. It was built when the Wodeyars were the Maharajas. We were told that the Maharajas used to visit this place while passing by this area and rest for sometime in this single room cottage.”

There is an old Brahmalingeshwara Temple and a marriage hall at the foothills. According to T Sreedhar, the village accountant, the temple committee conducts a kite festival, jaatre and a traditional sports competition every year. Sreedhar and Revanna feel that special attention should be given to this place as it has an immense tourism potential. “While the kite festival happens during the Upavasa festival in July, the jaatre is celebrated during Deepavali,” adds Sreedhar.

On the way to Pandavapura town, you can easily spot an aalemane, where jaggery is prepared by boiling sugarcane juice. You can walk in to watch the jaggery production process. Once you leave the aalemane, drive towards Pandavapura town to hit the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway.

You may travel either to Mysuru or Bengaluru. On your journey back, you will recollect the time you spent in these places and the memories will linger on.
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