Threads of a Culture


South India

As one travels through the roads of India, they experience a sense of being overwhelmed. There is a lot happening at any given point of time,  extremes exist side by side, often with blurred boundaries - mansions and huts, houses and shops, life, work and festivals - many threads coming together to give rise to a culture. Tugging at one of these threads, one can gain an understanding of the culture of a place.

In the summer last year, Greta Rybus and Lodestars Anthology, travelled with us to capture the local culture of Mysore. From a road trip through the paddy fields of Karnataka, we came upon the local rituals of Mysore, sampling the cuisine, roaming the streets, studying the silk industry and exploring awe-inspiring architecture.

The stunningly intricate Amba Vilas Palace was built in 1912 after the previous palace, constructed in the a 16th century, burned down. Admired for its blending of European and Indo-Saracenic architectural styles, it is India’s second most frequented site, behind the Taj Mahal, with around 2.4 million visitors every year.

The connection between Mysore and sandalwood crafts is a tale as old as time. Even today, workshops across the city house craftsmen working on masterpieces.

Mandi Mohalla is considered to be one of the oldest districts in the city. It has everything from pet shops to tea houses, butchers to electronic stores.

The KR Flower Market in the heart of Bangalore begins before sunrise and is a hub for local flower sellers who disperse throughout the city before it comes to life.

The flower market in Bangalore is an explosion of colors with strands of jasmine for women’s hair, garlands of colourful blooms for the front of taxis or auto-rickshaws, or arrangements for temples and homes.

A rice farmer harvests his field on the outskirts of Mysore. The primary grain of South India is rice, while in the North wheat is more common.

The banks on which the rituals are carried out by the locals are overcome by a feeling of peace as the sun sets.

The Devaraja Market in Mysore dates backs to 1890 during the days of the maharajas. The market is known for its rich history and wide array of goods - from cones of coloured kumkum powders to fresh vegetables, fruits and spices

Sandalwood crafts are fast disappearing but the craftsmen still have stories to tell from the era when Mysore was hub for all things sandalwood.

The residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore, the Amba Vilas Palace is characterised by its unique Indo-Saracenic architecture and twelve Hindu temples, located within the palace complex.

The confluence of the Lokapavani and Cauvery Rivers is considered holy, a sacred place to carry out ancient rituals

Just after sunrise in the Chamundi Hills above Mysore, a priest adorns a large idol of Nandi, a mystical bull who was the gatekeeper and guardian for Shiva. In Hindu mythology, Shiva was often meditating, so it was best to ask Nandi for blessings from this revered deity.