The Garden City – Bangalore, India (Part 2)

Culture & Art

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Bangalore is known for its gentle climate, broad streets, greenery and the presence of many public parks, such as Lal Bagh and Cubbon Park. Bangalore is sometimes called as the “Pub Capital of India” and the “Rock/Metal Capital of India” because of its underground music scene and it is one of the premier places to hold international rock concerts. In May 2012, Lonely Planet ranked Bangalore 3rd among the world’s top 10 cities to visit.

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Bangalore did not have an effective contemporary art representation, as compared to Delhi and Mumbai, until recently during the 1990s, several art galleries sprang up, notable being the government established National Gallery of Modern Art. Bangalore’s international art festival, Art Bangalore, was established in 2010, and is South India’s only art festival.

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Chitrakala Parishath is an art institution and cultural organisation that aims at the promotion of art and culture, and it is well known for the various art exhibitions that it conducts both at the state and the national levels. It was started by M.S. Nanjunda Rao as an art-school in a small room in the locality of Malleswaram, Bangalore. Some of the courses taught here are painting, sculpture, applied art, graphic art, and art history. The college offers a graduation degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts. While the Karnataka Government initially provided a 13-acre (53,000 m2) plot of land near Doddaballapur for this college, a new piece of land was handed over to the institution near Mysore road, which will now house the college. An extension of the college called Chitrakala Institute of Advanced Studies (CIAS) was also started to cater to the advanced studies in art. CIAS offers Master’s degree in Fine Arts (MFA).

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One of the pioneering activities undertaken by the Parishath was to conduct a survey of the Karnataka state’s art treasures such as the famous Mysore paintings. This survey was hugely successful in cataloguing the art treasures and this also lead to a lot of studies and research on the various arts found. With time, the Parishath added galleries and also a graphic studio making it into a full-fledged art complex. In 1993, an INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) centre at Bangalore was started with the help of the Parishath. An open-air theatre to cater to the needs of the visual and performing artists is also present. In 2003, two more large galleries for international and folk art were also inaugurated. One of the important events organised annually is the Chitra santhe (art bazaar), which is a sale of art objects in which hundreds of artists from all over India participate and sell their work to the public.

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Kannada literature appears to have flourished in Bangalore even before Kempe Gowda laid down the foundations of the city. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Kannada literature was enriched by the Vachanas (a form of rhythmic writing) composed by the heads of the Veerashaiva Mathas (monastery) in Bangalore. As a cosmopolitan city, Bangalore has also encouraged the growth of Telugu, Urdu, and English literatures. The headquarters of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat, a non-profit organisation that promotes the Kannada language, is located in Bangalore. The city has its own literary festival, known as the Bangalore Literature Festival“, which was inaugurated in 2012.

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The city also has a very active and vibrant theatre culture with popular theatres being Ravindra Kalakshetra and the more recently opened Ranga Shankara. Kannada theatre is very popular in Bangalore, and consists mostly of political satire and light comedy. Plays are organized mostly by community organizations, but there are some amateur groups which stage plays in Kannada. Drama companies touring India under the auspices of the British Council and Max Müller Bhavan also stage performances in the city frequently.

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Bangalore is also a major centre of Indian classical music and dance. The cultural scene is very diverse due to Bangalore’s mixed ethnic groups, which is reflected in its music concerts, dance performances and plays. Yakshagana, a theatre art indigenous to coastal Karnataka is often played in town halls. The dominant music genre in urban Bangalore is rock music. Bangalore has its own subgenre of music, “Bangalore Rock”, which is an amalgamation of classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal, with a bit of jazz and blues in it. Notable bands from Bangalore include Raghu Dixit Project, Kryptos, Inner Sanctum, Agam, All the fat children, and Swaratma.

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. . . . .

Poet Guide: Shloka Shankar

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