Artisans Village - A Heritage PreserveLocated in Karnataka State, in the South Kannada district, Mangalore is a small seaside town known as one of the major ports of India, handling much of India’s coffee and cashewnut exports. It is also now known internationally for the famous red terracotta roof tiles.
As you depart the pier you’ll drive past some of the main highlights of the city – the Hoysala style Gokarnath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Town Hall, a local fish market selling the day’s catch and a vegetable market selling the produce.
This area has a rich tradition of artisans which has been perpetuated down the ages through hereditary lineage by highly skilled craftsmen who depended on their craft for their livelihood. With the advent of mechanization and modern industrial culture, most of these arts and crafts lost their commercial significance and have gradually faded into oblivion. The younger generation has migrated to the cities and taken to other more lucrative professions.
In order to protect and preserve this age old culture, a model Artisan Village has been created, depicting these unique professions in their traditional settings. This includes a production and training centre where people are trained in the relevant skills, and provided with marketing facilities to ensure a survival of their profession.
Seen from atop the hill, the artisan village resembles a true tribal village as if it is right out of a film setting, the smithy chugging fumes, a distant pounding of the rice, the creaking and grinding sound of the mill and the clutter of the carpentry. But take a closer look and you will be astonished at the quality of the goods they make and how much wealth it has created for the tribals of the surrounding villages.
The village comprises several traditional cottages with full fledged demonstration facilities in typical rural settings. Each cottage is dedicated to one of the above arts and crafts and a daily demonstration is given for visitors. You can take home a souvenir, as the produce is for sale!
Some of the arts and crafts practiced here include making and weaving furniture out of cane; extracting gingelly (or sesame) oil in a traditional way seen nowhere else – fresh seeds are put in a wooden tank and ground by a bullock cart circling the tank; ‘beating’ rice or paddy into light dry flakes, which is popular all over India to make a variety of snacks and breakfast dishes; pottery, carpentry, blacksmithy, wood and stone carving, fish net weaving and jasmine culture amongst a few others.
You’ll also see a Guthu House, the traditional manor house of the coastal landlords. The spacious house too has clearly demarcated areas for various functions and rituals. Such houses have become a rarity now due to the high costs involved and only the rich landlords can afford to build and maintain this type of dwelling.
The design is adapted to withstand the extremities of the climate marked by cycles of hot summers and torrential rainfall. Only traditional artisans who are well versed in this type of work are capable of building such a house. The construction materials used primarily comprise of Hard Wood, Stone and Clay … and the famous red Mangalore tiles. The woodwork comprising ceiling, doors/windows and intricately carved pillars are a tribute to the skill of the carpenters.

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