The Handmade Splendour of Hampi

Day 10
8 February 2018

We set off at 6 am as usual, and with the breaking of the dawn we found ourselves traversing an undulating landscape. We did not meet too many villagers but saw more paddy grown along the way. We also saw a small shrine of Huligemma and a woman priest too.
Broken fort walls, old tanks, hero-stones and massive doorways greeted us along the path to Anegundi, the erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.

Taking in the rocky splendour this landscape offered – both natural and handmade – we reached Anegundi. This place had hundreds of Langurs and also several Hanuman temples, legends also suggest that, this is “Kishkinda”, the monkey kingdom of Sugriva, mentioned in the Ramayana.

Some of us visited Uramma Crafts, a local NGO that employs rural women to make bags, cushion covers, bins, bags, etc from banana fibres and other natural fibres.

“The Handmade” is not just restricted to products but also to services.

To reach Hampi, we had to cross Tungabhadra River. One option was to take the motor boat and another was the handmade coracle. Most people preferred the faster motor boat which also carried bikes across. A clear example of what Gram Seva Sangh has been saying, that “the handmade” is not just restricted to products but also to services. Like most mechanised goods and services, the motor boat cost only Rs 10 while the coracle ride cost Rs 50 per head.

After crossing over to the other side and having lunch under the shade of trees, we set off to our final destination of the day – Shivarama Avadooth Matha. Along the path, we saw several stone relics which left us marveling at the skills and technologies that might have gone into making these structures.
At the Matha, we had visitors from Hampi University. Dr. Chaluvaraju and his students discussed Manteswamy and his philosophy spicing it up with songs.
He brought up an important point during a personal conversation, “Have you ever wondered why baskets, ropes, iron implements, and other crafts are not made by the untouchable community?” he asked. According to him, any crafts made by the untouchable community, were never bought by the rest of the society.

He also gave a fresh perspective of the Vijayanagar Empire – though the written records speak of the glorious past, this empire too, like most others  brutally taxed the hand-making communities which even forced some of them to migrate to the South.
These discussions were a reality-check. Once again, the history has posed uncomfortable questions and left us wondering how we could re-imagine a future that is not only just and inclusive but also sustainable.

By Jahnavi and team

Lastly, Don’t miss this Siddayya swami banni – Tamburi Pada by  Dr. Chaluvaraju