The Doll House: Why you must visit Jaganmohanam at Jaganmohan Palace this year

It is that time of the year again. The Dasara festivities in Mysuru are in full swing as tourists from all over the world are flocking to the city to witness culture, art and history — all under one roof. While each cultural activity offers us resplendent forms of dance, music, architecture, food and customs, there is nothing quite like “The Mega Doll Festival,” at Jaganmohan Palace this year.

The festival, ‘Jaganmohanam’ which is being hosted for a month (Oct.10 to Nov.10) is a spectacular collection of 1 lakh dolls that have been diligently sourced and carefully assembled from various States across India.

The assortments of dolls that are arranged on a stepped platform depict mesmerising folk stories, larger-than-life mythological characters and day-to-day life events and ceremonies from ancient and modern India. Visitors, doll-lovers and religious folks are truly in for a visual treat at the Jaganmohan Palace.

The fierceness of Ashta Bhairavas (eight manifestations of the Hindu God Bhairava) the eternal love  of  Yashoda-Krishna, the ferocity of Varahi (the boar-headed Goddess), the magnificence of Indrani (the Queen of the heavens), the divinity of Goddess Chamundeshwari, and the ever-green timeless epic of Ramayana won’t fail to please one’s  aesthetic senses.

The smallest doll in the collection is a figurine of Lord Ganesha (half-an-inch) and the tallest doll is a beautiful statue of Goddess Abhyambika, standing tall and proud at 3 feet. The colourful display of Mysore Royal Durbar should also not be missed.

STANDING TALL: Goddess Abhyambika.

If one were to assign a theme to the doll collection, then it would have to be “India’s cultural diversity,” which has been spectacularly represented through the doll collection. You could literally name a State and the curator, Aremanda

Ravi Kalyan (A.R.K.) Chakravarthi from Gayathri Seva Trust (Andhra Pradesh), would be more than happy to show you toys and artefacts from that State.

A.R.K. Chakravarthi

The Kondapalli Dolls from Andhra Pradesh, the Pop Dolls from Kolhapur, the Clay Dolls from Tamil Nadu and the Jute Dolls from West Bengal leaves one enchanted. However, the piece-de-resistance of the collection is the Samskaaras, a depiction of popular ceremonies in India (marriage, baby naming, weaning and cradling).

Sri Gayathri Seva Trust from Andhra Pradesh takes care of destitute senior citizens. Member of the erstwhile royal family Pramoda Devi Wadiyar actively supports the cause of the Trust. The money raised through this event will be used to take care of the aged destitute. The Trust has been collecting these dolls over the last two years from various parts of the country.

If you are a wedding lover, do remember to visit the vibrant collection of Indian wedding attires from different States.  And definitely, do not forget to ask the helpful volunteer to point you to the Wedding Rituals Doll Collection (engagement, turmeric pounding and mehndi).

What makes the doll collection so special this year is the fact that it is the result of a one-man-show and it is the first time that a doll show at the Jaganmohan Palace has displayed a whopping number of 1 lakh dolls!

The diligence and commitment of the curator, A.R.K. Chakravarthi, is quite evident when you watch him speak to his visitors with humility, patience and a deep-rooted passion for his craft. Besides an ardent passion for dolls, he also runs a non-for-profit organisation for impoverished senior citizens in his home town, Tenali in Andhra Pradesh. His future plans involve opening a Doll Museum in his native place.

“The main aim of this doll show is to educate and enlighten people about Indian culture, tradition and heritage. Dolls have been the ambassadors of different cultures for a long time. They serve as an excellent medium to express events, occasions and chapters from India’s rich history and epic stories. Our main aim is to help people become more aware of the Indian culture, tradition and heritage,”  the curator said.

Dolls from this show have been made of clay, leather, wood, glass, metal, bamboo, horn, ceramic and paper mache. Through these doll representations, one can come to know about India’s famous epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana, which include ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Goddess Chamundeshwari.

Anita, a school teacher, who has travelled all the way from Hyderabad to see the Doll Festival said, “This kind of collection is a difficult one to assemble. It is rare to see so many Hindu Gods all at one time, all under the same roof. I recommend everyone to come here to witness the splendour and glory of the dolls.”

The Doll Festival at Jaganmohan Palace is open for visitors from 10 am to 7.30 pm daily till Nov. 10.

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