India has a rich cultural legacy that may be seen in architecture, handicrafts and textiles, dance and music, and other forms. The Hasta Shilpa Kala Village in Manipal's Udupi district in Karnataka, is one of the locales that exemplifies this.
This fascinating open-air museum celebrates Indian heritage, artefacts, and culture from the golden era, with traditional dwellings, artefacts, textiles, utensils, furniture, crafts, and toys on display.
Every building, exhibition, pillar, and courtyard tells a tale. The space immerses you in India's historic culture, crafts, and magnificent workmanship. Experience the beauty of 18 historic homes from Malnad, South and North Canara, and some from North Karnataka's past.
Of particular note are the traditional Karnataka shrines, especially the Harihara Mandir from the 13th century. The centrepiece is a magnificent collection of folk deities from South Canara and tribal art from Bastar-Chattisgarh.
Vijayanath Shenoy is the person behind the vision for the space. He was a bank employee who wanted to spread awareness about the heritage of the region. Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village was set up in 1997 as an open-air museum realised in Manipal. The project was conceived as a result of the Hasta Shilpa Trust of Manipal's passionate concern for the preservation of traditional works of art and craft as well as beautiful artefacts from bygone eras, as well as for the restoration, conservation, and promotion of centuries-old vernacular structures of architectural merit, aesthetic interest, and craft importance.
Over the years, Shenoy collected artefacts from demolished structures, numbering, cataloguing and transporting them to Manipal in the early 1970s. "To see the things that bind us to our culture - music, art, and dance- we need to go to a theatre, an art gallery or a museum. Entwining it in our architecture makes us live it again; see it whenever we wish to,” said Shenoy.
You need over an hour to see the entire museum. If you do not have the time, here is a quick guide to some of the homes that are worth seeing.
The Miyar House, which has a typical Hebbagilu Chavadi structurefrom the middle of the 19th century, complete with lovely balconies in its upper floor, serves as the Heritage Village's entrance.
The Ganjifa Gallery, co-curated by art historian Dr. Pramila Lochan, is one of the museum's most intriguing areas.
The Kukanoor Kamal Mahal is another interesting building. It is thought that this unique wooden assemblage once belonged to a palace and dates to the early Vijayanagara period.
The Bazaar Street recreates the spirit of the traditional Indian Bazaar, so common till the late 20th century. The Mudhol Palace-Darbar Hall of Public Audience is built in the classic Maratha style of the early 19th century.
As their website says, "Hasta Shilpa Trust believes that our traditional buildings are the most powerful visual symbols of our heritage and, if they are left to decay there would be nothing tangible left to identify ourselves with our roots and connect with our cultures. Even the creative and imaginative capacity of the younger generation would be affected."
For more information, check here.
Entry: The entry fee for adults is INR 300, INR 150 for students and senior citizens. Valid photo ID is needed to avail discounts. Children below 11 years are allowed in free.
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. No entry after 3:45 pm. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays. Monday is a weekly off. Any holidays or changes in the working hours or days is announced in advance on their website and social media platforms.
Address: Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village Museum Opp: Hotel Lake View, Alevoor - Manipal Rd, near Christ Church, Manipal, Karnataka 576104