The for­mer Ban­ga­lore sus­tains a unique mix of world-class in­no­va­tors and tra­di­tional ar­ti­sans.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - The Christmas issue -

The city for­merly known as Ban­ga­lore sus­tains a unique mix of world-class in­no­va­tors and tra­di­tional ar­ti­sans. FIONA CAULFIELD in­tro­duces the mak­ers of modern In­dia.

In 2004 when I first ar­rived in Ban­ga­lore, as it was known then, it was most def­i­nitely not a case of love at first sight. The place ap­peared to be burst­ing at the seams. I searched for the city’s cen­tre but was thwarted by end­less traf­fic jams and be­wil­dered by the chaos. After a few days I headed south to the spice hills in the hope of find­ing greener pas­tures. Yet within a year I’d re­gard the city as home, and more than a decade later I’m still hap­pily liv­ing here.

Old Ban­ga­lore­ans rem­i­nisce about their sleepy vil­lage, be­fore the op­por­tu­ni­ties cre­ated by glob­al­i­sa­tion were tapped and the town’s sud­den ex­po­nen­tial growth surged in the 1990s. Seem­ingly overnight Ban­ga­lore be­came fa­mous around the world as the Sil­i­con Val­ley of In­dia, at­tract­ing an in­flux of for­eign­ers and In­di­ans from other states and turn­ing it into a truly mul­ti­cul­tural city. By 2011 the thriv­ing me­trop­o­lis had be­come the third largest in In­dia, with a pop­u­la­tion of more than 10 mil­lion, and it re­mains one of the fastest grow­ing in Asia. In 2014 the city’s Angli­cised name of Ban­ga­lore was of­fi­cially changed to the lo­cal Kan­nada lan­guage name, Ben­galuru, though adop­tion has been slow and both names are still com­monly used.

Un­like Mum­bai, sur­rounded by the Ara­bian Sea and cloaked in Bol­ly­wood glam­our, or the cap­i­tal, Delhi, with its mon­u­men­tal ar­chi­tec­ture and grand vis­tas, Ben­galuru’s at­trac­tions are not ob­vi­ous. There are pre­cious few sights to tick off, and be­cause of this the city of­fers a dif­fer­ent kind of ex­pe­ri­ence for trav­ellers, one that con­nects them to the peo­ple who live and work in the city – a mix of world-class en­trepreneur­s and in­no­va­tors, cut­ting-edge de­sign­ers and cu­ra­tors, tra­di­tional ar­ti­sans and master crafts­men. They’re the mak­ers of modern In­dia. It took me a while to un­der­stand that the cen­tre of this city, its soul, is its peo­ple. Here’s my in­tro­duc­tion to the finest mak­ers among them.

TEX­TILES Tha­rangini

Step­ping into the Tha­rangini lake­side es­tate is like en­ter­ing a dif­fer­ent world. This cel­e­brated block­print­ing stu­dio was es­tab­lished in 1977 by artist Lak­shmi Sri­vathsa and is run by her daugh­ter, Pad­mini Govind, along the found­ing prin­ci­ples of eco­log­i­cal sus­tain­abil­ity and fair trade. De­sign­ers from across In­dia and the world are drawn to one of the coun­try’s largest li­braries of hand-block print de­signs, fea­tur­ing more than 2000 blocks, and there’s a shop sell­ing ready-made prod­ucts in­clud­ing silk stoles, tote bags, yardage and even the print­ing blocks them­selves. Lo­cal jew­ellery brand The Jew­elry Project, and fash­ion brand Calan­tha also have small out­lets on the es­tate. 12th Cross, Sadashiv­ana­gar, tha­rangin­is­tu­

Tuni Tex­tiles

Swati Maskeri weaves “slow cloth” on three hand­looms in a house on the out­skirts of the city in an area with a rich tex­tile his­tory. She also teaches at Sr­ishti, the town’s de­sign col­lege. Work­ing with third-gen­er­a­tion hand­loom silk weavers on su­perb silk stoles and saris,

Swati fo­cuses on ab­stract de­signs rather than mo­tifs of­ten as­so­ci­ated with In­dian tex­tiles. Her works are sold at the likes of the Guggen­heim Mu­seum in New York. 308, 1st Main Rd, Sec­tor A, Ye­la­hanka New Town, tuni-tex­

Fa­ther­land – The In­dian Re­vival

Ron Dutta is re­garded as one of In­dia’s best stylists, with an im­pres­sive aca­demic cu­rios­ity and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of In­dian her­itage and a com­mit­ment to re­vive tra­di­tional de­signs and tech­niques. In 2012 he es­tab­lished Fa­ther­land, a brand of themed re­vival hand-wo­ven saris, tribal jew­ellery, ac­ces­sories and clothes. He unashamedl­y cel­e­brates the past and de­lights in point­ing out there’s no con­tem­po­rary twist to his col­lec­tions. He re­leases at least two themed cap­sule col­lec­tions each year, which he has ei­ther cu­rated or de­signed him­self. By ap­point­ment only. 31, 15th Cross, 11th Main, Malleswara­m, fa­ther­

LIFE­STYLE Basava Am­bara

One of the most at­trac­tive stores in Ben­galuru, this des­ti­na­tion bou­tique and café in a 19th-cen­tury her­itage home is run by an­tiques con­nois­seur Venkataram Reddy and his part­ner Aravind Kashyap. They show­case an­tique items as well as col­lec­tions

Ben­galuru of­fers a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for trav­ellers, one that con­nects them to the peo­ple who live and work in the city.

of con­tem­po­rary tex­tiles, jew­ellery, ac­ces­sories and home­wares cre­ated by lo­cal de­sign­ers. Lo­cally made prod­ucts in­clude Kale Nele tex­tiles wo­ven in North Kar­nataka, nat­u­ral body­care prod­ucts by Ben­galuru brand Do Ban­dar and the Ki range of note­books cov­ered in hand-wo­ven khadi cot­ton made at a lo­cal work­shop. 93 Kanaka­pura Rd, Basa­vanagudi, Cin­na­mon Housed in a tra­di­tional bun­ga­low, the city’s first “life­style” store was opened in 1999 by art col­lec­tors Ab­hishek and Radhika Pod­dar, stock­ing prod­ucts sourced ex­clu­sively from In­dia. Be­hind the main store are half a dozen care­fully se­lected de­signer bou­tiques set around the bun­ga­low’s cen­tral court­yard. Favourites are the fash­ion and tex­tiles brand Rasa from Jaipur and In­dia’s hippest sari brand, Raw Mango, from Delhi. Ac­claimed Ben­galuru chef Ab­hi­jit Saha runs the Café Cas­sia in the court­yard. 24 Gan­gad­har Chetty Rd, Si­vanchetti Gar­dens, Ul­soor, face­ cin­na­mon­the­store Go Na­tive Opened re­cently in one of Ben­galuru’s old­est and most in­ter­est­ing res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods, this con­cept store and café is a cel­e­bra­tion of sus­tain­able liv­ing and is com­mit­ted to fair trade and sup­port­ing eth­i­cal pro­duc­ers. It show­cases lo­cal tal­ent, in­clud­ing light­ing by Jenny Pinto (one of Go Na­tive’s di­rec­tors), toys and home­wares by Var­nam, beauty prod­ucts by Com­mon Oxen and yoga wear by Proyog. The farm-to-ta­ble café lo­cated on the first-floor ve­randa over­looks the leafy street and serves con­tem­po­rary In­dian veg­e­tar­ian food us­ing lo­cal, sea­sonal, or­ganic pro­duce. 64, 10th Main, 5th Block, Jayana­gar, go-na­ Grasshop­per More than a decade ago fash­ion de­signer Son­ali

Sat­tar founded Grasshop­per at her fam­ily’s farm­house on what was then the out­skirts of the city. Though in traf­fic it can take an hour to reach from the city cen­tre, this is where I take friends to see the best con­tem­po­rary In­dian de­sign, in a hip space com­bin­ing cui­sine and cou­ture. Hid­den Har­mony is Sat­tar’s col­lec­tion of stylish women’s wear. She has added a chil­dren’s line and car­ries Kris, a lo­cal brand of hand­made leather bags, and gor­geous lac­quered wooden home­wares by de­signer Atul Johri, who works with crafts­men in the vil­lage of Chan­na­p­atna, about 60 kilo­me­tres south-west of the city. In the evenings (and for lunch on week­ends) the ve­randa trans­forms into an in­ti­mate restau­rant. 45 Kalena Agra­hara, Ban­nerghatta Rd, grasshop­ ➤

JEW­ELLERY Gan­jam Of­ten re­ferred to as the Tif­fany of Ben­galuru, Gan­jam was founded in 1889 and served as the of­fi­cial jew­eller of the ma­hara­jah of Mysore. The com­pany re­mains fam­ily run, with Ku­mar Gan­jam in charge. All its pieces, whether con­tem­po­rary or in­spired by her­itage mo­tifs, are de­signed and made in-house. The com­pany’s com­mit­ment to pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional hand­crafted meth­ods has been recog­nised by the World Crafts Coun­cil. 22/12 Vit­tal Mallya Rd, gan­ Pallavi Fo­ley Known for con­tem­po­rary sculp­tural jew­ellery that main­tains an In­dian sen­si­bil­ity, Pallavi Fo­ley is one of the coun­try’s most awarded de­sign­ers. Her range en­com­passes af­ford­able sil­ver and gold-plated pieces and in­vest­ment works in solid 18- and 22-carat gold. In­spi­ra­tion comes from Fo­ley’s ex­pe­ri­ences: enamel artistry seen at the palace in Bikaner, the San­skrit con­cept of Navaratna (nine gems) in­flu­ences the de­sign of her hoop ear­rings, and an “ar­chi­tec­tural” col­lec­tion is a nod to the pro­fes­sion of her fa­ther. Store B-10, Leela Gal­le­ria, Leela Palace Kempin­ski, No 23 Old Air­port Rd, pallav­i­fo­ ART & AN­TIQUES Balaji’s An­tiques & Col­lectibles Es­tab­lished in 1924, this shop sup­plied props for the 1984 pe­riod drama A Pas­sage to In­dia. Owner DG Balaji works with col­lec­tors from around the world and can source al­most any­thing imag­in­able, from orig­i­nal movie posters to bat­tle plans of Tipu Sul­tan. The shop is crammed full of trea­sures – rose­wood ship chests, Than­javur paint­ings, gramo­phones, cam­paign fur­ni­ture, Burmese lac­quer­ware, Ravi Varma prints – and the staff tell fab­u­lous sto­ries about each cu­rio. 1st floor, 64 Balaji Silk Com­plex, Av­enue Rd, bal­a­jian­ Gallery Su­mukha This gallery, es­tab­lished in 1996, oc­cu­pies the largest pri­vate gallery space in South In­dia and in­cludes two ex­hi­bi­tion halls and pri­vate view­ing rooms. The strik­ing stair­case is al­most an ex­hibit in it­self. The gallery hosts reg­u­lar shows and rep­re­sents em­i­nent Ben­galuru artists such as Raviku­mar Kashi, best known for his pa­per-pulp sculp­tures and in­stal­la­tions. Don’t miss works by Clare Arni (who took pho­tos for this fea­ture) and Cop Shiva, Ben­galuru-based pho­tog­ra­phers with in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tions. 24/10 BTS De­pot Rd, Wil­son Gar­den, su­ BEAUTY Areev Climb two flights of stairs in this non­de­script build­ing and en­ter what looks like an old-fash­ioned apothe­cary shop – there’s even a po­tion sta­tion with cop­per ves­sels in which shop­pers can cre­ate their own sham­poo and mois­turiser, with guid­ance from Areev founders Ally Matthan and Apoorva Sadanand. They hand­make prod­ucts for hair, face and skin us­ing lo­cal nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents – some are said to be ed­i­ble (ap­par­ently a cus­tomer once ate the soap and quite liked it). Matthan also makes fra­grances un­der her own la­bel and cre­ates be­spoke fra­grances for clients. 1st floor, 17/A Kr­ishna Reddy Colony, Dom­lur Lay­out, OR­GANIC Happy Healthy Me For­mer gal­lerist Namu Kini teamed with her friend Misha Gill to cre­ate an or­ganic brand and the city’s most com­pre­hen­sive or­ganic store, stock­ing more than 300 cer­ti­fied or­ganic prod­ucts sourced in In­dia. Shop for cof­fee, tea, spices, clay and ce­ramic cook­ware, eco-friendly per­sonal care prod­ucts and lo­cally made yoga mats. 660, 1st Cross, 11th Main Road, Indi­rana­gar, hap­py­ H A N D M A D E PA P E R Stu­dio ABCD This stu­dio stocks “sec­ond life” pa­per prod­ucts such as gift wrap made from block-printed news­pa­per, lamp­shades from waste card­board and note­books cov­ered with film posters. 2nd floor, 99, 1st Cross,

New Thip­pasan­dra, ●

Fiona Caulfield is the cre­ator of the Love Travel Guides se­ries of hand­crafted guide­books. Last year she launched a new se­ries called Made in In­dia. The lat­est, Made in Ben­galuru, sells for $59.95 from love­trav­el­ It fea­tures pa­per made in the vil­lage of San­ganer and is bound by hand in Ben­galuru.

Top and op­po­site: Cin­na­mon. Right: Kale Nele cush­ions at Basava Am­bara.

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE Pad­mini Govind of Tha­rangini block-prin­ters. Above: An­vitha Prashanth of Go Na­tive. Op­po­site: devo­tees at the Mu­ru­gan fes­ti­val in the Ul­soor dis­trict; a loom.

Above: note­books at Stu­dio ABCD. Op­po­site: Venka­tram Reddy of Basava Am­bara, be­side a South In­dian wooden va­hana, a ve­hi­cle of the gods; cloth from Tuni Tex­tiles.

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