29 April, 2010


Kuppalli, in the heart of Malenad (rain country) is the birthplace of Kannada poet Rashtrakavi Kuppalli Venkatappa Puttappa (1904 - 1994).Popularly known as Kuvempu, the highly revered poet has won the Jnanapith Award, Sahitya Academy awards, Padma Vibhushan, honorary doctorates,.....

(Kuvempu's pic, courtesy Wikipedia)

A few years ago, the tourism department made some renovations and converted Kuvempu's house into a museum (The surrounding few hundreds of acres of greenery is also protected by the department). Ever since, Kuppalli has become a favourite picnic spot for the people of the surrounding region.
Kuppalli is within 50 km from our home and, for no particular reason, we hadn't been able to go there. On a recent Sunday afternoon,we decided to check it out since everyone had been giving us the 'Oh?! you haven't been there yet?!' treatment.

A small break post-lunch, and an hour later, we were there.On entering the yard, this poem greeted us, and I knew this one - had to mug it up in high school!

I must admit, the poem seems much nicer now than it did long, long ago!
Written when the poet was in his early twenties,this is a poem where the poet gets nostalgic about his idyllic childhood spent at home. Interestingly, he ends the poem by hoping to spend his final days here and look back at a fulfilling life. How nice to have your dreams come true :) 

Thinking so, and feeling good for the poet, I took a proper look at the house, and .......

.... there it was - a typical Malenadu landlord's house! See that window on the topmost floor? That used to be Kuvempu's room. The view from there is very good- mountains and greenery. My tailor had once told me that with a view like that from her window, even she, could write poetry!

Inside (photography not allowed), the house has verandas (on all floors!) and rooms around an open, central courtyard.There is so much wood - in columns, roof, doors, louvres - some with ornate carvings. The books, furniture and other interesting objects used long, long ago have been arranged very well. Among several of Kuvempu's personal stuff, you will also find a few tufts of grey locks, a pair of Bata sandals (Rs.56.95!)and also the portable mantap used for his wedding!
The house has a naturally cool feel and one could easily settle down in any of the pleasant nooks with a book - & doze off on lazy afternoons :)

Kuvempu, I'm sure, would have had many wonderful siestas in this house. Post- coffee, post-siesta, he would take this path to his favourite spot on the hills behind the house.
This place is now called Kavi Shaila.
Often, Kuvempu is supposed to have brought along friends. These stones have been witness to the discussions of some great minds! The department has marked this stone as THE favourite spot. The other names on the stone are those of famous Kannada writers- B.M.Srikantaiah, T.S.Venkatachalaiah and Poornachandra Tejaswi (Kuvempu's son).
From here, one can see the Kodachadri mountain range - 20-30kms away- and a beautiful view of the sunset on clear days (very rare).

The poet's body now lies in rest near here. The watchman told us that there is a crowd here only on Kuvempu's birth & death days. Otherwise, the visitors are mostly tourists on their way elsewhere.

There is little else to do / see in Kuppalli. One of the rooms in the house serves as the department's office. If interested, one can buy Kuvempu's books at a discounted price. CDs of Kuvempu's poems set to tunes by popular artistes are on sale too.

A note if anyone wants to visit after reading this - The place is open on all days - 9 to 6. Entry fee is Rs.5/- per person (You are welcome to donate for the upkeep of the place). Outside the house, there is a curio shop - cum- canteen - if you are desperate for memorabilia/ coffee!

10 April, 2010


It is summer and one of my favourite flowers, Crossandra, is in full bloom.During this time, it lives up to its popular name - Firecracker flower.
Known as 'Kanakambara' in South India, I'm not sure about its presence in the North.During my growing up years in Bangalore, some street hawkers would give a twist to the name and call out 'Discoambara' while pushing their carts :)
Like the bouganvillea, this plant loves the sun.Since excess watering encourages foliage, watering should be done only when there are visible signs of drooping.Propagation is very easy - cuttings / seeds & not much care is required.

The cultivated flowers are in different shades of orange while the wild flowers are in shades of green. Crossandra has no smell and there are no visible flower parts like pistil, anther, etc. Hence, traditionally, it is not offered to God.

Once upon a time, there were a lot of cultural prejudices against wearing the flower. Identified as the scarlet woman's flower, it was strictly no-no, especially among the women of the upper classes.
Now, of course, there are no such prejudices - even God has started accepting the flowers!

 Women of all classes wear it because of the ability of the flower to look fresh for a longer duration. On the plant, the flowers stay fresh for nearly a week.

Often, people ask me about my lack of interest in wearing flowers. Well, I have always preferred flowers on the plants. If I have to wear, then it is a small strand of jasmine, preferably of the Mangalore or the Mysore variety for me. The reason for my jasmine preference - jasmine lives only for a day, whether on the plant, or off it :)

Century on the Bronze Anniversary!

This is my100th post, and today is the eighth birthday of Alter Idem !! That's an average of a post per month......1.04 to be precise!!...