Chowdiah’s seven-stringed violin

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Commuting between Mysuru and Bengaluru is almost as if one is travelling between two suburban destinations in a city. There has been an age-old conflict between Bengulureans and Mysureans. While the latter reject the big city for its busy nature, the former do not prefer Mysuru for its laid-back atmosphere. Having been a Bengalurean for decades, I have commuted ever so often to Mysuru admiring it for its clean environment, undisturbed by traffic, and soaked in the art and culture.

Of course, the low cost of living tops it all. Compared to the ever-restless Bengaluru, these points make Mysureans feel absolutely royal!

My sister has extended a standing invitation to me: “if you are feeling jaded in Bengaluru traffic, just drive down to Mysuru. It will be rejuvenating!”

The Cauvery delta is the third-largest in the Deccan plateau. The river flows eastwards before emptying itself into the Bay of Bengal. This delta has nurtured passionate composers in the field of Carnatic music. Renowned violin maestro T Chowdiah is one of them. A visit to the 114-year-old heritage home on my latest visit to Mysuru yielded an unexpected bonus!

I got to chat with Tirumakudalu Narasipura Piteel Chowdiah’s grandson and great-grandson, flute artist — Chandan Kumar. Kumar proved beyond doubt that art and music can be genetic traits.

Chowdiah lived till January 1967, performing extensively, accompanying great stalwarts, dedicating his music to the Devi of Trimakuta and the Maharajas of Mysuru. With royal patronage, he composed innumerable compositions on Sri Chamundeshwari, which still exist in the Carnatic music concert circuits of today. The late cinema star Ambareesh carried his trait for acting. After all, he was Chowdiah’s grandson!

A tour around his family home which is still kept intact, reveals a seven-stringed violin in the pooja room designed by Chowdiah for which he was nicknamed Soundiah. Chowdiah’s music room with his guru Bidaram Krishnappa’s black-and-white photo commands deep respect from all musicians and visitors.

Now, his great-grandson Chandan Kumar holds his music baithaks there. In this inspiring ambience of Chowdiah’s singing violin, I just couldn’t help humming one of his compositions dedicated to Tirumakudalu Sri Chamundeshwari in raag Saveri. The feeling that I experienced was transcendental. It was a memorable visit, but then it was time to beat the traffic to reach Bengaluru without hassles.

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