Of weights and measures

The unique display of weighing and measuring devices at Tula Bhavana in Davanagere offers a glimpse into the evolution of these instruments

Of weights and measures

Davanagere, once called as the Manchester of Karnataka for the concentration of textile mills in the city, has a new attraction now. It is Tula Bhavana, the first museum of weights and measures in the country. Located in Chamarajpet market area of the city, the unique collection is the result of constant efforts by Basavaraj Yalamalli, whose family is in the trade of selling weights and measures for several decades now. He has a collection of over 3,000 weights and measures, of which 2,500 are displayed in the museum.

Variety of devices

One can see traditional devices from across the country arranged systematically in the museum. Measuring tools that were in use in more than 60 princely states of the country find a place here. Accordingly, the collection has been broadly categorised according to the regions. It includes antiquities from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bengal region.

Weighing machines made in Germany, England and America, weighing stones of the British era, and a diverse range of weighing scales are on display here. Various devices used in Princely Mysore like wooden beam scales, brass weights and balance scales, traditional measuring devices made of different metals, and a variety of weighing stones in different shapes and sizes are also a part of the collection.

Likewise, copper and brass gooseberry-shaped weighing stones that were used in Kalaburagi, Vijayapura and Raichur regions, octagonal brass weighing stones used in the Malnad region, square ones used in the Haveri region are also present here.

Along with devices used by traders, the museum also has a collection of different types of weighing scales used in post office and various electric metres used by the electricity department. The museum also has a collection of devices used during the Portuguese, Adil Shahi, Nizam and Peshwa rules in different parts of India.

The devices that are meticulously documented and neatly arranged take the visitors to respective periods of time. The materials used and the sizes and shapes of the devices offer a glimpse into the life in those days and the evolution of these instruments over the years. All the exhibits are neatly maintained and are in good condition.

Driven by passion

One will sure get amazed at the effort that has gone into collecting such a wide range of weighing and measuring devices. Basavaraj’s passion for collecting weights and measures is an offshoot of his family trade. After he joined his father in the business three and a half decades ago, he developed an interest about devices used in the days of yore. Curiosity got the better of him, and soon, he started researching and collecting the devices.

He pursued the passion seriously after 2006. Once he had sufficient pieces, he began documenting and arranging the collection. If the gadget he collects is damaged, he gets it repaired. Once he gets hold of an item, he does not rest until he collects all the details about it. He does this by referring to various sources such as books, folklore and the Internet. Wherever he goes, he makes it sure that he visits antique shops and gujari (scrap) shops to collect these period pieces. “I have paid considerable amount most of the time to collect them. But I don’t have any regrets,” says Basavaraj. His friends and relatives also join hands by informing him whenever they find a collectible.

In 2012, he decided to throw his collection open to the public and set up the museum. He recalls the support of Honnappa Gowda and S R Naveen Kumar, his friends, in setting up the enormous collection. The aim is to introduce these antiquities to the people, particularly students.

Basavaraj acknowledges the support of the entire family, particularly his father, the late Chanaveerappa Yalamalli and son, Shriraj Yalamalli. In recognition of his efforts, the Postal Department released a special postal cover on the museum this year. The museum is maintained by a trust called Chanaveerappa Yalamalli Memorial Trust.

Tula Bhavana is open on all days except on Saturdays, between 10.30 am and 5.00 pm. Entry is free on Sundays and on other days, they charge a fee of Rs 10. For details, one can contact Basavaraj on 9880607222 or visit www.tulabhavan.org.

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