Janapada Loka – An open air museum

The Janapada Loka complex is idyllically located in the midst of a vast, expansive green belt, and houses museums of folk objects, an art gallery, an open-air theatre, a studio, and several areas marked for seminars, discussions and informal meetings.

The Janapada Loka is a subsidiary of Karnataka Janapada Parishath. The Parishath was registered as a Public Charitable Trust in 1979 for the preservation and promotion of local folk culture and heritage. The trust began with a corpus of Rs. One lakh donated by Mr. H. L. Nage Gowda, I.A.S (Retd.), who has been evincing keen interest in folklore from early sixties of the 20th century. The birth of this Folk Art complex has been inspired by Mr. H. L. Nage Gowda’s personal visit to Thai village near Bangkok (Thailand) and The Polynesian Cultural Centre in Hawaii (U.S.A.)

The activities of the Janapada Loka are conducted in a 15 acre complex located near Ramanagaram, 53 kms from Bangalore on the Mysore Road. The museums artistically display about 5000 artefacts drawn from the life and arts of the large number of tribals and folk people spread throughout Karnataka. These reflect the essence of folk culture, which includes literature, music, dance, theatre, festivals, paintings, sculpture and lifestyle. As an extension of these museums, it is proposed to have folklore huts of each of the 27 Districts of Karnataka focusing on similar objects drawn from the area, the life style, the habitation, the wear, the folk arts and the folk artistes and their costumes.

The rich and colourful costumes displayed at the Museums vary from beads worn, instead of blouse, by the ‘Halakki Vokkaliga’ women of Uttara Kannada district to colourful and embroidered costumes sported by Lambanis. In the Chitra Kutira, colour photographs of various tribes and folks are displayed in their colourful costumes. These include Kodavas, Kinnari Jogis, Lambanis, Religious Mendicants and Yakshagana characters etc. Among folk articles of everyday use are wooden bells, mouse and pig traps, weights and measures, earthen pots and kitchen utensils. Agricultural implements, swords, daggers and musical instruments are among other attractive articles which are on display.

Janapada Siri Bhuvana 

Bhuvana connotes world (lustre), universe (mobility), cosmos, (magnitude), the inhabitants of which are all folk and everything is folklore. So also the case in respect of the Janapada Siri Bhuvana, which has valuable and diverse material in the form of folk language and literature , songs and lyrics sung in hundreds of tunes and in thousands of refrains by the rural laity; Children’s rhymes, folk tales, performing arts. folk theatre, rural sports etc. It is our earnest desire to have the same transmit-ted to the urban elite. Thus this Siri Bhuvana is a training centre. Besides, it will also house the Head Office of the Parishath. Janapada Loka and Janapada Siri Bhuvana have become hubs of continuing activities and live performances and festivals, highlighting the cultural and aesthetic dimensions of folk life and arts.

The story of H .L .Nagegowda and his untiring efforts behind setting up of Janapada Loka Museum :
  1. L Nagegowda (1915-2005) developed a deep concern about the folk arts during the many years he served as Deputy Commissioner in Shimoga. Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. A man of boundless energy and endless dreams, he carried out an enormous number of activities during his administrative career and continued at a greater pace after his retirement. The Karnataka Janapada Academy was established in 1979 and Janapada Loka was opened in 1994. The museum is a record of all the activities H. L Nagegowda and his assistants carried out, including audio and video documentation of performances, fairs, festivals, rituals, farming related technique, games etc. and the collection of objects associated with rural life. He also organized annual cultural events, which showcased folk art forms of different regions of Karnataka, with the intention of popularizing the rich rural culture to the future generations.
  2. L Nagegowda’s primary interest was in the various folk performing arts. Corning from a rural background he was an admirer of farmers and their work, though his education and profession led him to a more urbanized life in different districts of Karnataka. Anxious about the disappearance of rural life styles and forms of expression, H. L Nage Gowda insisted that folk artists continue to practice with the belief that they would survive if their art accommodated changed circumstances. He was clear that while society should support folk art forms, even if it was no longer intrinsic to daily life. He also believed that individual effort was crucial.

Janapada Loka is the fruition of H. L. Nage Gowda’s efforts. His interest in museums had an early start in Shimoga when he set up a District museum in the 1970s. The initial collection of folk objects was displayed at his office cum residence and was later shifted to the museums in Janapada Loka when this site was purchased, the larger space fuelled the growth of the collection and the criteria for collecting became clearer. Nagegowda wanted objects that had lost their function, that considered ‘old’. But he also wanted objects that represented rural life. There was no agenda to collect only ‘beautiful’ objects: every object represented its user and had symbolic value as a product of an earlier era. During field trips, his assistants searched attics for abandoned objects with the permission of householder, Besides domestic objects. H. L Nagegowda was keen on assembling all types of rural occupational equipment, which represented specific communities and their inherited trades. The museum’s collection also grew because many people contributed objects.

Janapada Loka Timings:

The visiting hours of Janapada Loka is 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. The complex is open on all days except Tuesdays and selected public holidays.


(source and courtesy: Brochure, Folklore Rejuvenation Centre, Janapada Loka)