As you travel towards Mysore by road on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, some 60 kms away you will come across a huge big hoarding across the road inviting you to the city of toys, Channapata.
You just cannot miss the shops dotting both the sides of the highway. They seem to be bursting with life with all the brilliantly coloured toys!
Channapata, in its native language Kannada is also called ‘Gombegala Ooru’ which means toys town in English.
We stopped at one of the shops and were amazed to see the variety of toys. There were dolls, horses, butterflies, and educational learning kits for toddlers, which included abacus, numerals and alphabets too and all beautifully hand crafted in wood. The wooden bangles, belts and necklaces caught my eye; they were unbelievably crafted into different shapes and sizes, which amazed me. The list is really exhaustive! I forgot they crafted furniture too!
The shopkeeper Kumar informed us that these were made using ‘Doodhi wood’ which was favoured because it is light in colour and hence the colour dyes would be rightly reflected and also this wood could easily carved because of its softness. The dyes used were all vegetable organic dyes- Turmeric is used for the colour yellow, indigo powder for blue, and Kanchi kumkum powder for orange and red colour. So that made these toys very child friendly and safe. The high glossy shine, which the toys imparted, was not due to any varnish being used but the toys were polished with a particular blade of grass, which had the right abrasive qualities.
This craft form was dying because of onslaught of the Chinese toys in the market but thanks due to the timely intervention of the Karnataka government, designers who supported this craft with designs promising a better utility to the customers and of course the e-commerce websites which sold these incredible toys at competitive rates, which has lead to better tidings to this toy-making industry.
I bought a few key chains, pen-holders, a belt ,a necklace and bangles before I resumed my journey towards Mysore.
LONG LIVE INCREDIBLE HANDS!!