Toys, temples and treats galore

Back on your journey, with the sweet taste of Mysore pak still lingering in your mouth, it is time to reach the little ‘land of toys’ aka Channapatna.  Just about 12 km from Ramnagara, Channapatna is fondly called “Gombegala nagara” or town of toys.  Known for colourful wooden toys that are indigenously manufactured using the native ‘soft’ ivory wood of the Wrightia tinctoria tree (locally known as Aale mara), Channapatna is about 65 km from Bangalore.

 

Craft with a historical connection

This unique craft of toy making has been accorded the geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization.  The history of the craft dates back to over 200 years and to the reign of the famous ruler Tipu Sultan who was a fan of wooden toys himself.  He was instrumental in inviting experts from Persia to teach the craft of wooden toy making to the locals led by Bavas Miyan at that time.  Since then, these toys have gained immense popularity with a large quantity exported and the same have also served as gifts to the then visiting US President Barack Obama.

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Channapatna Toys – Photograph: Rashmi Gopal Rao

 

Manufacturing of the toys involves various steps including procuring and processing the wood on a lathe machine, cutting it into the desired shape, chiselling, finishing and then painting.  The toys include a wide variety of items like dolls, stationery items, idols of Gods, Goddesses etc.   The last few years have seen the industry receive considerable impetus and the products have been given an innovative and contemporary touch with items like lamp shades and other home décor pieces being made in chic designs. 

There are several stores on the highway that retail these toys and hence it is hard to miss them.  But if you have time, it is recommended to take a quick detour into the town and shop for toys in the interiors.  Nevertheless, it is a great idea to pick up some of these toys as a souvenirs or even as gifts.

 

Scenic beauty: Kanva Reservoir

Hitting the highway again, leaving the toys behind, leads you to a board that says “Kanva Reservoir” in less than 10 km.  It is a serene, calm place with an artificial lake set amidst verdant greenery.   A haven for bird watching in the mornings, Kanva reservoir, also called Kanva dam is a great place to watch sunsets as well.  Built in 1946, the Kanva dam was initially constructed on the Kanva river which is a tributary of the river Cauvery for the purpose of irrigation.  Today it is a popular picnic spot and an attractive place for tourists.  Apart from the fisheries training centre there is also a cave temple nearby called the Purushottama Theertha temple.

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Aprameya temple – Photograph: Rashmi Gopal Rao

 

Traditional temples

Close to the Kanva reservoir is the ancient Nadi Narasimha temple that is believed to date back to the 11th century.  The temple has an ornately constructed dome or gopura as well as a shikhara that bears detailed sculptures.  Considered highly auspicious, the statue of Lord Narasimha with his consort Lakshmi Devi is highly revered. 

Another temple that lies in close proximity is the Aprameyaswami aka Navaneetha Krishna temple.  This is yet another important place of pilgrimage and is dedicated to Lord Krishna.  The temple dating back to the 15th century is believed to have been built by the Cholas. The main deity of Lord Aprameya is a form of Vishnu while the other attraction is the idol of baby Lord Krishna.  Built in a crawling posture, the God has a big ball of butter in one hand.  the temple is highly popular with couples desiring to start a family and also by childless couples as it is believed that they will be blessed with a child after offering prayers here.  Many who pray here come back and tie a silver cradle as a token of appreciation and thanks giving.

Proceeding further takes you to the town of Maddur which is of course famous for the savoury snack, Maddur vada.  Made from a mixture of rice flour, semolina to which is added plenty of finely chopped onion and curry leaves, these crisply deep-fried pancakes are a great snack to pack and carry for the rest of your journey ahead!