My fascination for the standard toys of Kondapalli began with a household heirloom – a light, quaint wood toy representing the deities, Rama and Sita together with Lakshmana and Hanuman. Painted in shades of teal, inexperienced, beige, and purple, the miniature was set in a body and had an old-world attraction about it. It was no mere toy – the handcrafted figurine was given to me by my mom who had acquired it from her grandmother and since then, it had grow to be a everlasting fixture in my Navaratri golu – the festive show of gods and goddesses, demons and mortals with tales crafted round them. This finally led me to begin amassing extra wood dolls and toys and that keenness took me to the portals of the Kondapalli village, positioned barely 25 kms from Vijayawada metropolis in Andhra Pradesh.
All roads led to the Bommala Kondapalli toys Colony or the Toys Colony of Kondapalli positioned within the centre of the village, dwelling to about 80 households of artisans, tracing their origins to the patron saint of arts and crafts, Muktharishi, who was blessed by Lord Shiva. Homes, workshops, and retailers had been huddled collectively the place the toys had been carved out of the native softwood known as Tella Poniki additionally referred to as white sander. The normal toys of Kondapalli are over 400 years outdated and it’s believed that the artisans known as Nakarshalu or Aryakhastriyas, migrated from Rajasthan and had been later patronized by the native kings.
Trying round, I noticed an array of Bommala Kondapalli toys as they’re referred to as right here, painted in vivid shades of vegetable dyes or vibrant enamel hues. Tinted in hues of vibrant purple and yellows, blues and greens, the artisans defined that they now combine oil and water paints as nicely to deliver out the eye-popping colors. Nonetheless, I used to be fascinated by the miniature toys themselves.
The artisans elaborated on the method. Each a part of the toy is chiseled individually from the smooth and malleable wooden and is then joined collectively. The craftsmen added that they make a paste, the place sawdust is mixed with coarse powder made with tamarind seeds that are later utilized as glue to stay the components of the toys collectively.
Scenes from mythology had been carved in wooden. Rama and Krishna had been their favorite deities. I may additionally see tiny representations of Dasavatharam or the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. I used to be fascinated by the small print as vignettes of life from rural life performed out in entrance of me. There was a farmer with a vibrant purple turban sitting on his bullock cart.
Elsewhere a wedding procession was happening because the bride and bridegroom had been carried by the palanquin-bearers Musicians carried out, birds sang, troopers paraded on elephant again, a toddy tapper climbed the tree, a snake charmer posed along with his pungi whereas a wood cobra lay curled quietly in a basket. The artisans paid homage to fellow craftsmen and girls by carving them in wooden as nicely. The dancing women with golden crowns on their heads shook their heads and swayed their hips gently as they had been sculpted out of paper mache. Each toy had such an endearing enchantment that I felt like a baby in a sweet retailer.
Whereas the standard toys of Kondapalli at the moment are registered as one of many GI (geographical indication) handicrafts from Andhra Pradesh, Kondapalli is not only one other toy city. It has one other historic vacation spot with a formidable presence. Rising from the densely forested hills is an imposing fortress and palace. Shrouded in an aura of thriller and fantasy, the majestic ruins gave our fairy story vibes.
We entered the formidable fort via the principle gate that towered at 15 ft excessive and 12 ft vast and was carved with one single block of granite. Constructed-in the 14th century by the Reddy kings, the medieval fort was the house of a number of dynasties together with the Nawabs and finally the colonial powers.
Scattered across the fort had been crumbling ruins of towers, palaces, barracks and granaries. Water tanks and reservoirs added to the attraction of the ruins. A museum chronicled the historical past of the village whereas showcasing a medley of sculptures from the period. The fort could be the final vestige of the glory of the medieval rulers however the ruins narrated a narrative of battles fought, misplaced and gained. Standing there and shedding myself within the limitless labyrinth of arches and columns, paths and alleys, I felt like I used to be in a wonderland, ripped from the pages of an historic historic story misplaced within the annals of time.
This text was revealed in Deccan Herald just lately.