The ‘Toy Story’ from Channapatna

Flashback to a long time ago. A bus from Bangalore to Mysore, a Kannada movie playing for the travelers who might or might not be interested. It was my first time in South India and  I was fascinated by the diversity and vastness of the country. I had spent a couple of days at Bangalore, exploring the IT capital of India through its luxury hotels and huge malls. An evening spent at Le Meridien Bangalore left me spellbound and wishing for more. Even though Bangalore turned out to be much different than what I had expected, it was the small towns and villages that I found more interesting. Here’s half a story from one such town; it’s a beautiful drive from Bangalore to Mysore and I can’t thank God enough for window seats!

Passing by what seemed like a small town, I noticed some men selling colorful wooden toys by the roadside. I was told by a fellow passenger that we were crossing Channapatna or Gombegala ooru meaning ‘toy town’ and I immediately wanted to get down for a stopover. My wish wasn’t granted as the bus wasn’t supposed to halt, but then I decided to come back and explore the narrow alleys of this small colorful town. Life had other plans though, and soon, a new found corporate life made sure that Channapatna remained buried in some quiet, untouched corners of my heart. Until a few years ago, I had completely forgotten about Channapatna and how I once desired to visit the toy-town. And then one day, I got a book for review which reminded me of it again.


Credits – Shutterstock

This year, I plan to finally explore Channapatna, a day-trip from Bangalore is what I have in mind. It would be a heartwarming experience to witness the art of converting wood into little, colorful pieces of joy. It was Tipu Sultan who brought this art of toy making to India by inviting Persian artisans to teach the people of Channapatna. Their skills seemed to have only gotten better with time. Small toy workshops are a prominent feature of this town and though the techniques are becoming modern, the artisans still stick to using all things organic to manufacture these toys. Natural dyes are used to bring wood to life, and I am sure these toys are the ones kids would remember for a lifetime, rather than the impersonal, plastic junk that is available in abundance.

A trip to Bangalore is long pending, and the fantasy of Channapatna that has stayed with me through the years has to be checked off the bucket list. Channapatna would b quite a contrast from Bangalore, and I am hoping I could get to enjoy the diversity of both the cities one weekend. It’ll be an interesting transition from Shangri-La Bangalore to the saw-dust of filled workshops of Channapatna!

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