Bangalore has been my home for 6 years now and it took me this long to come across the indigenous citrus fruit pomelo (chakkotha) which once grew in every garden and was grown abundantly in Bangalore. It was last Saturday that I got the chance to see the pomelo tree and fruit. I was also unaware of the fact that Devanahalli (Devanahalli is a region around 50 kms from city of Bangalore) pomelo (chakkotha) has got the Geographical Indication (GI) status.
Last Saturday we drove through the traffic and pollution of Bangalore to enter into the clean, fresh air of a village. As we left behind the noisy city we were welcomed by the sound of the bells hanging around the neck of the cow, the chirping of the birds, the soothing sound created by the swaying of the trees and the leaves.
A view of the hills at a distant
There was a stretch of grape farm on both the sides of the narrow roads. A hazy view of hills at a distance, open fields with green mulberry leaves, the calf and the cows strolling on the roads, silkworm wheels resting in the shades of houses – I was in Muthur village in Chikballapur district, around 60 km from the city of Bangalore. This is one of the closest place from Bangalore to have a glimpse into the cottage industries, grape farming and sericulture. Also to get a peek into the lifestyle, occupations and cuisine of the villagers. This village has been worked upon to be a model village with using solar light, rainwater harvest etc.
Mulberry leaves farm
Muthur provides a quiet escape for the city dwellers and an opportunity to explore the village life. Here are ways to explore Muthur on a day trip.
WATCH NATURE CLOSELY: Muthur is home to a variety of birdlife. Black Drongo, Brahminy Starling, Common Hoopoe, White Throated Kingfisher, Black Shouldered Kite, Indian Roller are just to name a few birds commonly spotted. An early morning walk in the village would be the best time to spot these birds. It would be good to carry a binoculars for a closeer look of their plumage and colours. A stroll along the kere (lake) which is dry in summer but replenished with water in winter and rainy season gives an opportunity to spot the water birds like pond heron, purple heron and grey heron. We were lucky enough to also spot Short Toed Snake Eagle. You will not only get to see birds, but can also see a variety of butterflies.
Birdwatching in Muthur(from top left in clockwise) 1. White Throated Kingfisher 2. Black Shouldered Kite 3. Black Drongo 4. Common Hoopoe 5. Black Kite
EXPLORE VILLAGE OCCUPATION: The primary occupation of Muthur inhabitants are sericulture, dairy and grape cultivation. For those who like a bit of exploring new things, there are opportunities to learn and observe the process of silk rearing and grape cultivation. You might even get to try your hand with the workers at the silkworm unit and other units.
(from top left in clockwise) 1. Caterpillars feeding on the mulberry leaves 2. The healthy caterpillars. The unhealthy ones are of no use. 3. The cocoons 4. The Silkworm wheel where the caterpillars are placed for spinning cocoon
A visit to the silkworm unit gives an exposure into the whole process from rearing the silk worms to harvesting the silk from the cocoon. Interacting with the workers in the silk rearing unit gave me an insight into the life cycle of a silkworm from how the moth lays eggs and then the caterpillars hatched from these eggs feed on the mulberry leaves. The healthy caterpillars spin cocoon and within few days it spins a round of cocoon encasing itself. This cocoon is then used to produce silk fiber. It was thrilling to get a chance to learn about the silk production process and get to peek into the lesser known side of silk.
The Black Grapes in the first phase of cultivation
Have you seen a grape farm? If not, you get a chance to visit the grape fields in Muthur. You can meet the grape farmers and see the different stages of grape farming. Before visiting the grape field in Muthur I was not aware that black grapes are actually green when they are unripe . I came back with a mind full of new facts like drip irrigation is used in grape farming. Sounds like an educational trip for a city kid, right ?
The instruments used in the Dairy Unit
Another most important thing that we come across in our daily routine is milk. A tour to Muthur gives you an opportunity to visit their dairy unit where the collection of milk from the village happens. The dairy cooperative members showed us the different instruments used for preserving and storing the collected milk.
Do you know how a brick which is used in constructing your house is made? Muthur has a small brick factory owned by one of the villager. Muthur offers to take you for a factory visit and get a look at the process from tempering the clay to moulding the brick and then drying and firing it.
WANDER AROUND Visitors to Muthur can take an evening walk to a nearby lake, to sit on rocks and watch the beautiful sunset. The travelers who love exploring old temples and architectures can walk to a 30 year old abandoned Shiva temple and other beautiful temples in Muthur. Talk to the villagers and they will tell you stories or the history of the dry lake that once used to be brimming with water.
One story about how Muthur got its name was told by a senior villager. Muthu in Kannada means pearl. The story goes that a pearl was found in one of the wells in Muthur and this pearl is now in the crown of the VenuGopalaswamy deity in Devanahalli fort. And thats how it became Muthur.
The ruins of a 30 year old abandoned Shiva Temple
SAMPLE LOCAL CUISINE Avarekayi is a popular crop in Muthur and surrounding villages. So relish a sweet prepared from Avarekayi or treat on a vegetable dish out of it. Ragi Mudde is a wholesome popular meal with the rural Karnataka. Savour a ragi mudde or a ragi roti prepared by local villagers. Don’t forget to quench your thirst with the local grown tender coconut water. And to start your morning or end your evening with a cup of tea from the milk from the cows in the village.
A simple but local, tasty meal
BUY No tour ends without taking a souvenir back from the place. Muthur has a small tailoring unit run by the local women. Get yourself a cloth bag with Namma Muthuru (translates to Our Muthur) tag for your daily shopping. Also make the best use of your village visit and buy some fresh vegetables and fruits direct from the farmers and make sure you carry them back home in Namma Muthuru bag . Don’t forget to taste the black grapes grown in the village.
The bags stitched by the women in the tailoring unit. This is sold under the label ‘Namma Muthuru’. Avoid plastic and use these beautiful bags and contribute in the economy of local village
A bag of fresh veggies bought directly from the farmers
My one day trip to Muthur was really lovely and much more than that, it was informative.The warm welcome by the villagers makes you realize how hospitable India is. You can see the great pride and hospitality the villagers take in showing around their village.
Have you visited any other villages around your city? Share your experiences with us.
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