SURAJKUND: Be it the smell of Kannada cuisine wafting through the air, an array of multi-ethnic costumes, performances on a temple-themed stage, or even architectural grandeur, celebrations spelt a new name for Karnataka at the Surajkund Fair here.
Returning after a gap of almost 20 years as the ‘theme state’ at the 27th International Surajkund Fair, Karnataka has this time put up replicas of its famed architectural monuments across the grounds of the Fair.
“We take this opportunity to announce and inform the world that South India is more than just Tamil Nadu and Kerala as most tourists consider it to be. We have lavishly displayed and are celebrating our culture and heritage and welcome everyone to the state of Karnataka, tourists or otherwise,” G Satyavati, Director, Karnataka Tourism told PTI.
The replica of Mysore’s famed Palace Gates welcomed visitors and as they moved further down they were greeted with more gates and more heritage. Artists dressed up in costumes from all regions of Karnataka like Coorg, Mysore, Bellary and coastal areas among others caught visitors attention in general and photographers in particular.
A traditional Coorgi family house called ‘Ain-Mane’ representative of the spirit of their ancestors dressed up in ethnic costumes performed at the Fair. While men wore Coorgi Peta (headgear) on their heads and carried a dagger around the waist, women dressed up in authentic Coorgi wear with a typical hairdo.
“I have already visited the Fair twice and can’t get enough of it especially with my camera around. Karnataka and Tejikstan have bowled me over. And, I will probably visit again before the closing. It’s an extraordinary celebration of one’s heritage and other states must learn from it,” said Chaman Marwari, a photographer and visitor at the fair.
“Apart from regular campaigns … we also have a special branding for the Surajkund,’ WOW Karnataka. Many Worlds Come Alive at the Surajkund Mela’ which can be seen around the fair.
“The main stage has been designed as a replica of the Pattadakal Temple, a World Heritage site apart from many other gates like the Bijapur Gate, Hoysala Gate, Hampi Gate, and Dasara Gate where the President was welcomed,” said Unni K, part of Bangalore-based Stark Communications, company behind the rebranding of Karnataka Tourism. In 1994 the southern state had a comparatively small presence at the Fair.
“We were theme state back in 1994 but it wasn’t a grand affair like this. About 130 artists worked for 36 days to present this southern spectacle. This is not just about tourism. We are proud of this occasion which celebrates the culture, the heritage and our very state,” said Ratna Karht, Public Relations Officer, Karnataka Tourism.
“We have even brought the ‘Madira’ (bar carriage) from our famous ‘Golden Chariot’ here along with the station and platform replica to go with it,” said Karht. .
A real-looking replica of the luxury train with signage of ‘Hospet Junction’ at one end of the heritage-look platform was displayed at the Surajkund Fair.
Karnataka put up about 75 stalls this year at the Fair and the Tourism office was designed to give a feel of the “Channapatna toys”, traditional wooden toys from the state.
Seerat Narindra, the designer behind the venue decoration said she “chose peacock as the symbol because it represents celebration because of its virtues for dancing and also because Haryana Tourism has peacock too in its logo. Also, the designs are meant to represent unity and joint celebration of and for the spirit of India.”
Close to 300 artists from the state participated in the event, which also put up a photo exhibition on the history of Karnataka. The fair which was upgraded as an international one from this year hosted African countries like Namibia, Rwanda, Tajikistan, SaarC countries and Peru among others, as foreign participants.
“I’m happy to be here. It was great to perform along with my fellow artists in front of the President of India and a wonderful crowd here,” said Farida, an artist from Tejikstan team.