Passing through Channapatna, you will be unmoved by the nondescript dusty landscape. A blip on the Mysore Road, this town is however well known for its unique wooden toys and lacquerware. Located 60 kilometers from Bangalore, Channapatna is located in the Ramanagara district. The town is also known as Gombegala Ooru in Kannada, literally meaning the toy town. Interestingly, the craft owes its existence to Tipu Sultan, who invited Persian artists to teach the craft to local artisans.
If there is one thing that rivals the Pipli lamps as an increasingly ubiquitous Indian souvenir, it is the Channapatna toy. The toys come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and the bright happy shiny colors make them irresistible for any age group.
After much avoidable procrastination, I finally landed up in Channapatna last month; curious about how exactly the toys are made. The experience in the toy making unit was an eye-opener, a reiteration of how skilled craftsmanship alone, without any fancy tools, technology or artificial enhancements, can result in such extraordinary outcomes.
Here are a few images of my attempt to capture the essence of this traditional handicraft industry.