Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bringing back the blooms

D N Srikanta Raje Urs with Bharathi Sridhar Raje Urs, vice president of Sri Jayachamaraja Ursu Education Trust, at Sri Vani Vilas Ursu Girls High School in Mysuru

He walks up to a plant and stops. He looks at it closely to confirm if it is a rare flowering plant.  “It would look beautiful growing on the roadside and on the hill in Mysuru,” he muses. He won’t rest until he gets the seeds and sows them in Mysuru. Outwardly there is nothing about him that would point to  the vast knowledge he has about rare flowers. He does his job quietly.
Seventy-four-year-old D N Srikanta Raje Urs, a trustee and joint secretary of Sri Jayachamaraja Urs Education Trust, is on a mission to recapture the flower power of Mysuru.

Tabebuia Chrysantha, Jacaranda, Cassia Nodosa, Mammea Suriga:  Bursts of these yellow, violet and pink blossoms used to dot the city’s landscape. These rare flowering plants are slowly becoming extinct and some have vanished, thanks to rapid urbanisation.

But Srikanta Raje Urs wants to make Mysuru bloom again. He seeds exotic flowering plants and ensures they grow into trees. What is unique about some of these flowers is that they bloom during Dasara.
He has been busy collecting seeds of these flowering trees from Lalbagh in Bengaluru and of ‘Flame of the Forest’ from Siddapur in Uttara Kannada for over a decade. He preserves and germinates them in the right environment taking utmost care. He sets aside two hours daily to germinate seeds and nurture  the saplings.
His mission doesn’t end there. He distributes the saplings to educational institutions and interested citizens free of cost, thereby motivating the public to grow flowering trees.

Over the past several years, Srikanta Raje Urs has studied about these exotic plants and has equipped himself with enough knowledge to create awareness among public about the need to conserve rare species of flowering trees.
“The seeds of these trees were earlier brought from several parts of the country. They are very hard and cannot be germinated easily. I discovered a technique by which 80 per cent of seeds can germinate within three days. The only thing is we have to nurture the trees for one rainy season and protect them from cattle,” he says.

Watering just once a week is enough while a mild pest control is needed. The lifespan of these trees is around 60 years and in some instances more than 100 years.
“Following urbanisation, we are losing the rare flowering trees of America, Colombia, Brazil, Thailand and Argentina. My desire is to plant trees along the roads approaching Mysuru, near Railway Line and also atop Chamundi Hill and in new layouts that are being developed.

We can further enhance the beauty of Mysuru with these flowering plants. This would also provide a great view if we see from atop Chamundi Hill,” he adds.

“My father D Nanjaraj Urs was a close associate of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, the king of Mysuru. My father used to talk about Wadiyars’ initiative. This inspired me to grow uncommon trees. I feel happy, when people, students inquire about native of plants, or they suitable for our climatic condition, their characters,’ he adds.

Know who planted the saplings
Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, who visited Baroda for landscaping, came to Mysuru State in 1908 to render his service. During the period, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV entrusted him to plant the saplings of flowering trees. Nalwadi was very fond of nature and used to plant saplings of flowering and fruit bearing trees atop Chamundi hill and scatter seed during rain seasons.

Learning over that people in Mysuru are not much enthused about plants, compared to Bengaloreans, he decided to host flower shows and develop interest among populace about rare flowering plants. In Karnataka we can find rare trees only in Bengaluru, and couple of trees along Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway, and few in Mysuru.

Exclusive Nursery

An exclusive nursery is being developed inside Sri Vani Vilas Urs Girls High School to grow saplings. The progrmme is being patronised by Pramoda Devi Wadiyar. College students, staff, teachers are been engaged in Nursery, and the young minds are made aware of rare trees.

To plant large number of flowering plants in and around the city, the trust is planning to raise 2000 saplings by the next rainy season. Already 400 saplings to Mysuru City Corporation in July to be planted in parks.

Student Vanitha said: “We had no idea Mysuru once housed such rare flowering plants. By engaging in nursery activities we came to know about we were nurturing exotic plants, which are in extinct. I am planning to grow a plant in my own backyard at my house. Planting flowering trees will increase the beauty of the city.’

Economist Teacher Siddappa said: ‘Srikanta Raje Urs is very passionate to raise flowering trees, and his initiatives has made us to realilse what we have missed. The exotic flowering plants has to be protected and people have to be educated about this rare plants.’

Bharathi Sridhar Raje Urs, Vice President of the Trust said: ‘Our efforts at creating tree wealth should be strengthened by the Corporation by maintaining the trees. To compensate the adverse effects of axing trees, Corporation should start an urban tree nursery. There are also suggestions from experts that Bonsai gardening be adopted to trees lining roads and avenues to further enhance the beauty. We request the MCC to envisage a plan to make Mysore more beautiful and cleaner.’


The rare flowering trees in extinct at Mysuru  

Colvillea Racemosa native of Madagascar

These trees were planted during the reign of Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in Albert Victor Road along with Cassia Spectabilis bearing yellow flowers and spathodea bearing red colour flowers. The blooms of these trees coincided with Dasara festivals. These trees are found in St Philomena’s College of Mysuru. It is our ardent wish that if these plants are planted on the route of Dasara procession more glamour would be added to the state festival, says DN Srikanta Raje Urs. 


 Jacaranda : Native of South America, Mexico, Central America

  In Mysuru these plants were found in stretches of Shashadri Iyer Road known as Dewans Road. There were found on either sides of the road, bearing beautiful shapes of blue flowers, a refreshing sight in the blooming season. As Dewan’s Road developing as commercial road these trees disappeared.  It is an avenue tree and called road side dream. We can sight this 
trees rarely in Mysuru. 


 Cassia Fistula

Cassia Fistula (Kakke Gida) known as golden showers is a native of Indian Sub Continent. It is the national tree of Thailand and its flower is Thailand’s National Flower. This only tree is found in Butterfuly Park in Karnaji Lake. This tree as medicicinal values and used in natural therapy.

Tabebuia Chrysantha 

Tabebuia Chrysantha  originally from Colombia, Brazil and Bolavia are  known as Golden Trumpet or golden Tabebuia. These trees can be found in Jaladarshini (2), Mysuru Palace (2), Metropole (1) and Kuppanna Park (1).

Tabebuia Avellaneda (Pink Trumpet Tree)
Tabebuia Avellanede tree with pink flowers are found in Manasagangotri campus and few areas in Mysuru. It is a small saturated tree with pink trumpet like flowers. 

Cassia nodosa is found in Lalbagh, Bengaluru. While, Cassia White is found in a house in Vontikoppal, Mysuru. Cassia Javanica bearing pink flowers was earlier found in KR hospital.

(Courtesy: Flowers Pics from Internet)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This Mysuru family all set to create ‘Dangal’

7-year-old lass in Rifah action packet enjoys the thrill of riding a quad bike in the open ground 
Taking a leaf out of the hit movie 'Dangal', here is a real life story of a young girl from Mysuru, whose father has sacrificed his life and earnings just to see her daughter become a Formula One car racer.  
Tajuddin, a resident of NR Mohalla, and a national-level car racer had dreamt of becoming a World Champion. But, he could not realize his dream due to lack of financial support and other commitments. Instead he decided to fulfill his dream through his two daughters.  
Tajuddin has trained his 7-year-old daughter Rifah Taskeen, a 2nd standard student of St Joseph School to drive not just a car but even a lorry and every kind of bike. He started training Rifah when she was just 3 years old. Over the past four years, she even learnt driving lorry, quad bike and bikes of different makes. Rifah who drives confidently and cautiously is so talented that she effortlessly perform car drifting and also drive the vehicle in reverse gear for more than 50 rounds.  
The family has completed the documentation process and has submitted the same for both Guinness World Records and Limca World Record. They hope the girl will enter the record books.  
Father builds quad bike   
Tajuddin has built a quad bike using spare parts from different vehicles, all from scratch. He has made use of parts from mopeds, engine from Kinetic Honda,  Chassis of  Suzuki Samurai, tyres of scooty Pep to build the vehicle. As he did not have any prior experience he had to face several challenges to  assemble the vehicle and took six months to build it.

Rifah can now drive any power steering vehicle with ease and she enjoys the thrill of riding the vehicles. Rifah can complete 50 rounds driving in reverse. She has even participated in race competitions held at Mandya and Mysore. Extra seat, extra pedals are attached for lorries to make her feel comfortable.  

Give an opportunity  

“A boy in America has set a record at the age of 10 in racing by driving a normal car, which even can my daughter do it. She drives car (alto 800, swift, santro, scorpio, innova, lancer, goods vehicle like tata ace, bolero, eicher lorry, etc. There are no girls have created a world championship. In foreign countries talented children are encouraged and there is lot of scope for racing. We request government to give an opportunity to showcase our daughter talent at the the torch light parade to be held at Bannimantap during Dasara,” added Tajuddin .

Tajuddin had won more than 40 silver trophies, and has to his credit several prizes in racing. He has also worked as stunt artist in few films. His dreams is to train his daughter to drive a Ferrari vehicle when she reaches 17.  

She will be undergoing training in Bengaluru next month and is planning to take part in a major race event to be shortly held in Tamil Nadu. If she wins, she will be  representing India in Nationals and World Championship.   

My father is role model

Adventure enthusiast Rifah says: "My father is a role model for me and am blessed to have him in my life. He sits besides me and guides me. I love driving. It is a very thrilling experience to drive vehicles in reverse and my favourite is riding quad bike.I want to become a pilot in future and a world popular and famous rider. Am also passionate about Aero glider, and wish to undergo training at Aeromodelling Glider Center at Mangalore.
“We are proud of her. She is driving the vehicle since she was 3. We take all safety measures while driving and we allow her to practice only on vacant grounds,” adds Mother Bibi Fathima, a Urdu School Teacher.
Sister Shifa who has also learnt to ride gears vehicles said: ‘We are concentrating and committed only to make her world champion racer. For the past several years, he has left the job and has dedicated himself to train Rifah. Mother looks after the family. Our only dream is to make her world championship Racer.’

According to law, there is no permission to drive any vehicle on public way for the minors. Whereas, any age group of people can drive in their private place and its not a offense.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wood art catches like fire

While yoga may be very popular among foreign tourists, there is another activity that fast becoming a favourite among them


Varis is a tourist from Arustralia, who has been visiting the city for the past two years. Unlike most
tourists who come to Mysuru for its Yoga, Varis is more interested to learn the traditional art of wood inlay works.

"Each time I come here I make sure I learn a little bit more about the art. I now know how to select the right kind of wood and the right colouring shades. If I have any doubts when I am not in the city I
call the masters here and get them cleared," he says.

Like Varis, many foreigners from Europe, Australia, Spain,  German, Switzerland, France, and several Parts of America are coming to Mysore attracted by the desire to learn the art. While most pursue wood inlay art as a hobby, there are quite a few who claim to want to take up wood inlay work
more seriously and even make it their profession.

Katt, another a tourist from UK says that the inlay works are very different from anything she has
done before and compared arranging the intricate patterns and designs to solving puzzles. "We can
give 3D effects or just emboss the designs. It requires lot of skills
and requires patience," she adds.

Catherine from Australia, points out that the art works can also be used using waste wood,
trimmed branches from trees. "I have learnt to create couple of small designs which makes me
feel very proud. The techniques and methods has to be followed meticulously,” he adds.
S Ashok Kumar, a local artisan who has been engaged in the work for many years says that the tourists pass on word about the art to their friends and acquaintances in
their respective countries.
"They  are very dedicated and are very keen to know about this rich culture and tradition. They also purchase the art works in large numbers," he says.

Good for business

The artisans find teaching to foreigners very lucrative. The demand for the art works is not so good in local market with local  citizens or domestic tourists hardly showing any interest to learn it.
There were more than 17,000 inlay artisans in the royal city before Independence and presently there
are hardly 3000.

Anand, another artisan, says: ‘There is not only a dearth of buyers for the art works, but the local
population is not interested to learn the art at all. Its sad that it's foreigners who are more keen in pursuing such works."

Woods for the art Some of most common wood used in the art are rose wood, silver wood, teak,
yellow teak, honne wood (Merbau), matti tree, ebony, jack fruit, tamarind tree,
silver matti, pathangadamara, and other varieties of wood.

From Persia to Mysuru
Wood Inlay is an ancient Persian technique art. Persian artist who came to India to do inlay works on the Taj Mahal in Agra spread across the country.  Mysuru was a separate state during
this time and the artisans who came here were encouraged by erstwhile Maharajas. During the period, inlay works on rosewood, and ivory became very common. Some of the works which can be seen in the palace even today, are testimony to the workmanship of the time.

Shaukat Ali, a famous inlay wood artist who received a National Award, simplifi ed this wood inlay work and created a huge market for artisans by making them cheaper. Before this,
inlay wood arts were very costly.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Homes here are an art space

One usually associates painting exhibitions with galleries or museums. However, if the spirits of the arts are fired up within you, how about doing something different in Mysuru? Head to the house of one of these Mysureans who has converted their entire house into a perennial art and painting exhibition, for a different kind of experience. Be it the corridors, kitchen, restroom, bedrooms or the balcony.

There is no wall that is devoid of artwork in these houses. Srinivasa Putty is a resident of Krishnamurthypuram whose parents were painters and art enthusiasts. As a way to honour his parents and their work, Srinivas has covered his house’s walls with his parent’s paintings. His  house is built on a 40x60 plot and is aptly called the ‘Kaveri Kala Kuteera.’

Around 250 of the total 500 oil and water paintings that were made by his parents, Lalitha R Putty and Raghuttama Putty adorn every part of the house.

 Going down memory lane, this former dean f the commerce department at Tumkur University, says, “I hail from a family of artists. My father was a stenographer and after retirement he dedicated his entire time towards painting. He lived from 1973 till 2006. His mother created about 50 embroidery works and all this is also on display. “In every painting and artwork, I see my parents. Though many people have inquired about buying them. l do not wish to share any of the works. I am extremely attached to these paintings as one can tell,” says Srinivasa. He takes utmost care to handle and preserve his parents legacy and spends many days in a month dusting and cleaning their works. I have had these works for past five decades and want to pass it on to my children as well,” he adds.

Forwarding legacy

Srinivasa  sister Nanda Putty, his elder brother, Yatindra Putty are following in their parents' footsteps and also have their own work and those of their parents' displayed in every corner of their respective houses. Even Yatindra’s wife, Sumithra is an avid painter. The two stay in Alanahalli and get a good stream of visitors who admire their art.

Yatindra is mostly into making art in fabrics and cloth. Nanda says that she feels houses are empty if some form of art is not part of the aesthetics of a house. “We have built walls but alone they do not make a home come alive. We appreciate the value of art more now. It’s not just paintings but a kind of introduction to our family and our lives,” she adds.

Nanda has about 80 works displayed in her house that is also located in Krishnamurthypuram. Of these more than 40 paintings are about heritage buildings in Mysuru, and landscapes in and around the city. She says, “I feel happy when people visit my house and appreciate my work, criticize my mistakes and help me improve my works.”

Nanda is a mathematics teacher in a private school and also does on spot paintings within four hours. She has been paintings for the last 23 years and regularly conducts drawing and painting classes for children in weekends.

Sooraj, a local resident recently visited Srinivas’s house in Krishnamurthypuram. “The paintings are so natural it makes the onlookers spellbound. It gives us a feeling as if we are walking amidst the nature’,’ he says.