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Culture & Cuisine

Different faiths, linguistic groups and traditions have enriched the cultural landscape of Karnataka. Its art and architecture, grand festivals spanning many days, music, dance and cuisine have a variety and vigour to them that seduces the tourist of keen sense. The rock-cut cave temples at Aihole, the monuments of Hampi, the structural elegance of the temples at Pattadakkal, the architecture of the Hoysala and Vijayanagara rulers and that of the Mysore Palace – why, of the city itself! – is unmatched.

The palace of the Mysore maharajahs comes joyously alive during the grand 10-day spectacle of the Dusserha festival. Parades, caparisoned elephants, music and dance and the people themselves, make this a must on every tourists calendar.

Other prominent festivals are Ram Navami, Makar Sankranthi, Ugadi, Deepavali, the Id-Ul-Futr and the gigantic once in twelve years human confluence for the Jains’ ‘Mahamastabhishekham’ at Shravanabelogola (the next is in 2018).

Music, dance and theater – both folk and classical – have always held sway over the Kannidiga spirit. Karnataka is the only state where the North Indian Hindustani and the South Indian Carnatic styles not only flourish but have produced their own separate and gifted exponents. The stringed Veena was innovated by the musicians of the Mysore royal court. The Kuneetha folk dance form of the shepherd community, with its many variants, the celestial dance, Yakshagana, the classically evocative Bharatnatyam and the Bhootha Aradhana (Devil Worship) point to the various glittering threads in the fabric of Kannada culture. While for cuisine, try out the Malnad (hill region) variety where the food is cooked using bamboo shoots; or Coorg’s Pandi (pork) curry and other meat dishes using home made vinegar. Bisi Bela bath, Vangi bath, Mysore dosa and Mysore bonda, Kosambari, Ragiattu, Neerdosa – all with the judicious use of spices and other ingradients – are only some of the variegated fare here. And let’s not get started on the sweets!

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