What defines a city? Is it the geographical boundaries and features, the people who call it home, or the craftwork that the hands within its walls make? Well, it can very well be each and every one of these, but here, the focus will be on the most beautiful handicrafts and artworks that you can find in the city of Bengaluru. Most of what is detailed below is not just unique to the metropolitan city, but is the product of the cultural lifestyle of Karnataka and the regions that surround Bengaluru.
It would be a crime to start any such list without referring first to the world famous Mysore silk sarees. Stretching back to ancient times, never once has the silk sarees of Mysore district lost their quality, even as their popularity came under threat with the oncoming of colonial times and artificial cloths. Not only are they an essential in every closet, they are also a proud hallmark of a distinct culture’s unwavering style and grace. Bangalore boasts of numerous shops where one can buy these sarees in pretty colours and designs.
One only has to look in awe at the inlays and workings on a temple pillar to know just how stunning and old the tradition of wood-carving is in Karnataka. Ceilings and doors of important buildings are usually bestowed with this honour. Shunning new-age machinery and styles, most workers stick to methods passed over generations, preserving in wood beautiful imaginations and workings. While you may not wish for an entire door, you will always find some small trinkets like boxes and hangings in sandalwood or rosewood to carry back home.
Perhaps furniture is not your choice of souvenir. Worry not, as Bengaluru and its state are also the home of the unique Mysore paintings. Once again, the artisans have chosen to preserve century old traditions, and these paintings are still made in the same form as they were being made in the ancient period. The use of vegetable colors in bright hues, gold leaf, and fine lines make these paintings unique and exclusive, and they usually portray religious themes.
Despite being children’s toys, dolls can be very polarizing – some find them creepy, while others adore them. If you are of the latter category, be sure to pick one up from the streets of Bengaluru. Doll making in the state usually reaches its peak around the time of Dusherra, and in the nine days before the festival, during the days of Navratri, the entire city will be decked up with beautiful little figurines.
There are of course, several other things you can buy as a tourist or traveller to mark your visit to the city. But these are the ones which will be the most worth you money, and will also act as a reminder of just how rich the cultural heritage of the South Indian subcontinent is. So the next time you step out on the streets, be on the lookout for the small old shops.