The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore

The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore

You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth, you don’t need to climb Everest to have a great adventure, it’s invariably on our doorstep.”
~ Bear Grylls
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
It all began when I decided to explore in and around Mangalore and play tourist in my own city. The curiosity and enthusiasm that we invariably have for every trip, is unfortunately missing in our daily lives. So today I decided to visit the iconic St Aloysius chapel right in the heart of Mangalore city. 4 kms and a mere 11 minutes’ drive from my Strings of heritage holiday home, a visit to the chapel will definitely be awe inspiring.

7 reasons you should see this

The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
1. Travelling to Mangalore is much cheaper than traveling to Italy.
The interior of the chapel is entirely decorated in frescos, just like The Sistine chapel in the Vatican City. Whereas the frescos and tapestries in Sistine Chapel were painted by different artists, most famous being Michalangelo, St Aloysious chapel was painted single handedly by Italian artist and Jesuit Antonio Moscheni in a mere two and half years (1899-1901).
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
2. Painted with natural vegetable dyes and oil pigments
Europe was too far to import paints and it is said that, Moscheni made his own paints in Mangalore. This is the reason the frescos still look fresh and have not lost their sheen. Where the high walls were painted as frescos, the method of painting directly onto wet plaster, the ceilings are covered with panels. These panels were made of tightly woven linen cloth, painted with oil pigments mixed with linseed oil. They were then stuck to the ceiling. It’s a massive 6,458 sqft of frescos and 4,305 sqft of oil paintings on canvas on the ceiling. The walls at eye level and pillars seem to be made of marble, but are in fact all painted.
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
3. Pictures that speak
Perspective and depth in art has been achieved with the use of light and shade technique. Many features look like relief work but are in fact, flat and 2 dimensional. These are characteristics of Rennaisance art where Moscheni was influenced by the paintings in the Vatican . Mr. Vincent, is a guide at the chapel and explains these different elements, pointing out features of interest. This helps us understand and appreciate all the nuances of this great work.
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
4. Stories Galore
The paintings on the ceiling and behind the main altar portray the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, to whom the college is dedicated. His life events leading to his death at the age of 23 is depicted in order. The upper arches of the Nave, the main hall, depict the great saints of the church and the lower arches the Jesuit saints. The left aisle and the walls around it are dedicated to Virgin Mary and the right aisle is the altar of St Joseph. The panels on either side of the sloping portion of the ceiling portray the Apostles. The rest of the paintings portray the Scriptural history of the life of Christ.
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
5. Just a few moments here and you appreciate the Spiritual essence of the artist
Can you imagine being so far away from home, grappling with a new language, culture, the humidity and heat. Giving up on a career of fame and fortune in Italy as an artist, Moscheni joined the Jesuits. He was asked to travel to India and paint this chapel. Besides being a gifted artist, Moscheni was a spiritual and nature loving person. These qualities shine through in his work and his art is an offering to the Almighty. I was very lucky to see his thought process and some sketches which were discovered by chance just a few years ago in one of the rooms in the college. You can see these in the museum Aloyseum, which is opposite the chapel. In different mediums, his sketches show the planning process for this huge endeavor.
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
6. Restored to its former glory
Mangalore has a weather which is hot and humid, with heavy rainfall from June to September. The frescos have not been immune to the ravages of this weather and over time, the wall facing the elements had mold and algae with distortion of images. The chapel was restored to its former glory with the help of INTACH Lucknow from 1991 to 94 and again in 2018 by INTACH-ICI Lucknow and Delhi. The process of restoration does not involve any touchup of paints but it’s a painstaking process of removal of layers of dust, mold and algae.
The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
7. Armchair travel or the real deal
I could tell you all about the paintings here or you could also read about them in detail on the Chapel website. But would it really rival seeing it in person?

We owe it to the artist to study them with a reverence they deserve. To just sit here peacefully and feel the spirituality of the place. Irrespective of your faith and religion, beauty and sacrifice needs no language or faith. Come to Mangalore and soak in the atmosphere.

The frescos of St.Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
1. Photography is not allowed inside the Chapel. I had special permission obtained for the same.
2. Do observe the flooring. The bricks were got from Bergamo, near Milan, Italy.
3. The stained-glass windows on either side of the Altar are from Innsbruck, Austria.
4. Anyone can attend mass -Mon to Sat 6.45 & 8.15 am, Sun 6.30 & 8am
5. The service of the Chapel guide is complimentary.
6. I would like to place on record my gratitude to the Rector of St. Aloysius Institutions, Fr Melwin Joseph Pinto, for generously sharing his time and knowledge. I was also able to speak to Fr Leo D’Souza on the restoration work, when he was the Rector. Thank you for all the insights. And Mr.Vincent was a wonderful guide, explaining the different nuances of the paintings.

Lots of twinkles to all of you

Artist & Teacher Syed Asif Ali

Artist & Teacher Syed Asif Ali

Forty is definitely a milestone in our life. If people opt for lavish parties or an adventurous holiday, I decided to enroll for an Art course of 4 years at Mahalasa College of Visual Arts. And I am loving it with peers two decades younger. Best decision ever, as I meet and get to learn from artists in Mangalore and Coastal Karnataka. My lecturer Mr. Syed Asif Ali is my inspiration and mentor for watercolors, a medium I am in love with. His work is a reflection of the lush landscapes of the coast and will transport the viewer right to Mangalore. Let’s meet Artist Syed Asif Ali at Mindcraft studios housed in the beautiful Guthu Mane at KodialGuthu.
Syed Asif Ali is a versatile artist who is accomplished in the different mediums of art with more than 30 years of experience. He attributes this variety in his work to his profession as a teacher and his role as a mentor to his students. Though he is naturally drawn to the translucence of watercolors, especially capturing the beauty of nature in plein air, his contemporary works in oil portray the feminine in nature. His landscapes in watercolor showcase coastal vibes, tiled homes and lush greenery. These paintings bring the experience of the coast to the viewer.
Growing up in the village of Molkalmuru, he was surrounded by skilled artisans and colors of silk sarees handwoven on primitive pit looms. These decorative forms from his childhood capturing nature, his skill in landscapes and portraits which won him accolades in his youth, all paved the way to forging his identity as an artist.
His love for his craft and strive for simplicity and excellence in his work comes through shining in his artwork.
As we chat, I picture a young boy, surrounded by colors and design. Growing up in a joint family with sisters proficient in applying mehendi and embroidery on curtains, Syed Asif Ali was fascinated with designs. Always on the lookout for fresh new designs, at 8 years, he was bringing in fresh ideas for his sisters to work on. Molkalmuru being a hub of handloom silk sarees, every house had a handloom with sarees being woven, silk threads being dyed and colors in the air. Being in this environment of colors, it was natural for the gifted child to pave a life of art. Any festival or fair the child would be in great demand for applying mehendi and creating new decorative forms and designs. Forms from nature were his favourite. His surroundings became his inspiration.
By age 11 in school, he would illustrate his subjects and notes, gaining popularity and recognition among teachers and peers. By this time, he had formed his own identity as an artist.
When he was in high school, he won a District level prize and was mentioned in the newspaper. This further motivated him, to make a name for himself in the field of art.
Grappling with financial issues, his only option was free education in a government organization. Mr. Syed fondly remembers his older brother, a Kannada Pandit, who guided him and helped him secure a seat in Ravindra Kala Niketan Art college in Tumkur in 1990. He opted for DMC (Drawing Master Course) which was a 2-year course and would allow him to be a drawing teacher in high school. The art education in college opened up the entire repertoire of art and the different mediums. Seeing his result after 2 years, he was allowed to continue his education. In his final year, based on his progress and talent, he was offered a position in Mahalasa College of Visual Arts in Mangalore. Though everyone resisted his move to join a private institution instead of a government position, Mr. Syed was motivated by the learning of art itself, and felt that a position in college would give him more of an immersive experience.

When I bring up his love for plein air paintings, he fondly remembers his jaunts as a student to Hampi. He laments that the group from college was huge – to the tune of 100s and they would end up wasting their time in mundane chores such as, firewood collection and cooking, rather than painting. Sleeping under the stars, they were like a huge family. Though fun, they could not paint as much as they would have liked. From their second year onwards, they formed a group of eight and decided to do plein air camps. Once they even did this for an entire month, in a village Ganjam near Srirangapatna. With meagre resources, this was a rich experience with healthy competition among themselves. Any holidays, they would go for plein air camps, practically living art. During the Mysore Dasara competitions, he was awarded every year for 5 years, in portrait and landscapes. He also got a Lalita Kala Academy scholarship award which helped him tide over the last 3 years of his education. He remembers his mother pledging her earrings for his education in the first year, but with the scholarship, his educational needs were taken care of.

The move from Tumkur to Mangalore was a turning point in his life and shaped his art in the following years. He was always attracted to watercolors as a medium. His watercolor art teacher Mallappa Halli was always enthusiastic and spirited to teach him the nuances. His work, especially plein air metamorphosed from the rocky arid terrain of Tumkur to lush greenery in Mangalore with coconut groves, seascapes and tiled homes. This was also the time he got married to Ms. Tanveer Kausar. His wife would always encourage him and wished to see him succeed as an artist. With sadness in his eyes, he recalls her unstinting support especially on the home front and with their children, before her untimely demise. Even today, as he works on a piece, he remembers her and dedicates his work to her memory.

Speaking of his experience as a lecturer in college, he attributes his own growth as an artist to his interactions with the students. In his words, “In order to teach them, I need to get better as an artist every day. This helps me have an immersive experience and my work gives me the greatest satisfaction.” Attracted to nature from the beginning, his work, be it naturalistic, realistic or contemporary the subject of the mother, female and nature is the running theme. Nature captures all the aspects of colors, tonal values, aesthetics and the life supporting aspects of nature call to him, as an artist and a nature enthusiast.

His advice to the upcoming artists, is to leave behind the profit and loss aspect of work. In his words, “Our work should do justice to the images that we dream of, our work should be a reflection of our imagination rather than external expectations. It should be motivated from within and our own aesthetic sense. Everything does not go as per plan, but we need to have a plan in place, and work with any and all the incidentals that happen along the way.”

Our conversation ends on this note and I continue to stay inspired not just by Syed Sir’s words but also his work ethics and talent. Inspite of great personal loss and hardships, he continues to stay invested in his students’ growth and his own art journey. Lucky me, I get to learn from the best!
You can see more of his work on Instagram and also contact him for commissions or purchase of his work.
Twinkles until next time…
Rema Kumar – Designing Textile

Rema Kumar – Designing Textile

Woven narratives

Meeting Rema was on my to do list like forever. So we finally meet at Ambara and I am thrilled to bits. For those not familiar with her work, she is a textile designerj based in Delhi. Her USP is in the creation of woven narratives, sarees and fabric created in collaboration with weavers. It’s the coming together of the familiar and age old with the modern sensibilities.

#kota #batik #saree #textiles #indiantextiles

Chic office wear

I was not very familiar with the different weaves and textiles, but the whole purpose of my visit was to learn. If you have met Rema you know her nature of making you feel welcome and totally at ease. She patiently explained the weaves, the places they came from and her experience with the Weavers. We sometimes think it’s only with education that we are equipped. But Rema tells me that it was more of a learning on the job. It was only when she was working that she learnt of the traditional weaves and crafts. From therein it was her struggle to incorporate them into her designs. Work with fabrics that would make the saree an everyday wear which is chic, fashionable and at the same time comfortable.
She talks of our generation which has seen our mothers and grandmothers in sarees but the next generation will not be as familiar with it. At this rate it is only natural that the demand will come down and so too the Weavers. With every Weaver who stops weaving we lose out on a slice of our traditional weaves and patterns.These are now lost to us forever. She mentions the many tribal weaves that are lost to us in Assam.

#Trims #himachal
Wearing a saree as a lifestyle choice

She recollects a young man who came in to buy a saree for his sister. As they chatted he said that his parents were also Weavers. Interested Rema asked him why he had not taken up weaving. Affronted he answers that he is an engineer.
The problem here is that we are so culturally rich that we have forgotten how precious our heritage is and how priceless. The westernisation has blinded us to the true beauty around us. Inspite of growing consumption and liberal spending habits, the Weavers are struggling to make ends meet. For them it’s a matter of pride if their children move away from the traditional profession. Not surprising when we don’t recognise and honour the skill of the Weaver. Each piece, every saree is like a work of art.

Rema has travelled and experienced India in it’s true sense. Far and wide, she has lived with Weavers, in makeshift arrangements and truly soaked in the essence of our rich country. She loves visiting the local market or the santhe(fair) in villages. She once picked up a beautiful fabric from the fair and it’s now a pretty duppatta. Her eye for detail is her signature style which makes her creations stand out. Her work in the south ranges from Balrampura, Kerala, Mangalgiri, Maheshwari, Kalahasti and Machalipatnam. Warangal was again as part of the Dastakar Design intervention project for woven dhurries. In Kalamkari she has done contemporary work with her designs. I in fact couldn’t resist a beautiful multi coloured Kota with Kalamkari border. Will show you that one as well. She has worked in South silks, khadi, kuppadam, temple border, pondur, Andhra and Mandapet. After cotton, designs in Chanderi, tusssar and Kota are very popular for office wear. They can look formal or semi formal depending on how you accessorise and drape them. These are embellished with Dori work and block prints. Rema mentions the Batik in Ajrakhpur which was very good but they have now shifted to Ajrakh as it’s now more popular. We talk of Ajrakh which is a natural dye that happens in 16 stages….16 you guys! That’s mind blowing.

#stole #fabric #shoppinglocally #RemaKumar
Innovative style
#pipliwork #stole #RemaKumar
A touch of whimsy with Pipli work from Orissa

Rema does not like to tamper with traditional designs. Her endeavour is to popularise and bring a sense of pride in children for this craft. This a dream shared by her husband, artist Puneet Kaushik as well. She laughs and says that he is more of a textile lover and has a beautiful collection of textiles. They give textile talks, create awareness and spread their love for crafts. They especially love interacting with children in schools and talk to them about the different weaves. This is especially true in urban settings where children are not aware of the traditional crafts and handloom.

#RemaKumar #IndianTextiles #TextileDesigner
A plethora of fabrics, embellishments and crafts.

She sadly recollects her interaction with skilled ari workers in Kutch. The Ari workers whose ancestors had royal patronage were now working as labourers in building construction. And Ari is so beautiful. But this skill and the value of their work is not recognised. I felt so saddened. This is after all just one incident that we know of. How many more such unheard stories do we have?

Creating a medley of colours, weaves and designs

I ask her how we can change this. Rema’s answer is for all of us. It is up to each one of us to change. Wear sarees as often as we can, it is feminine and yet free. Where there is demand, there is work. Demand is most important and it can change the game.
Her learning for textile designers is that it is not a glamorous job. Sometimes the facilities are the bare minimum but you can learn the ropes. With patience and persistence you will understand and develop your own style. As I am about to leave with my beautiful saree, I ask her of her favourite weave or fabric and she smiles saying that every piece has its charm. True that….
Now I am busy making plans of visiting Rema, seeing her block printing unit and exploring India. Did I tell you that travelling India is on my planner this year? I am going on a craft tour in Bikaner. More about it when I live it.

Lots of twinkles to all of you


Koppikers Mumbai Home

Koppikers Mumbai Home

The home that we speak of today is bang in the middle of a busy road in Mumbai. As I look for the address, I am quite sure that I have come to the wrong place. The pictures that I had seen could never be in such a prime busy part of the city. And guess what!

I am in for a huge surprise!

Spacious living room

As I open the gate I stand there stunned. Not just for the lush greenery that I see but also the beautiful entrance, the Oasis of calm that it appears. The look is no less than a palace. The entrance is Royal and has stolen quite a few hearts. The home that I speak of today belongs to Nivedita and Nitin Koppiker.

Nivedita Koppiker

Flashback to a couple of months ago…when I saw this beautiful entrance in one of the saree groups, I immediately messaged Nivedita if I could do a home tour. All it took was a phone call and one question on the entrance. We walked down memory lane…. It was on a trip to Kerala and coconut lagoon that Nivedita decided that she wanted an entrance with old wooden pillars. They were renovating their home and the trip was a deciding factor on the look and feel of the home. Having made up her mind, when she found the first two antique pillars on sale, she immediately booked them. But they seemed incomplete without a base and after several trips to Chor bazaar she found the exact match for the base. The brass details on the pillars were added later. The main door was another important feature and after hunting everywhere for the perfect door, she decided to get it done. Sitting with the carpenter she would give him sketches and instructions. Not letting him be until he got it right.

Dining overlooking the garden

The kitchen

But after our initial rapport we could not go ahead with the home tour blog as she was not sure of what pictures I will need. So when I needed to go to Mumbai on work I decided to happily pop in at her place. The gracious hostess that she was, I was invited for lunch.



The most amazing aspect of this house is her involvement in every piece of design that became part of her home. Right from the entrance, the feel and look, to the motifs of lotus used on wooden panels and chairs. Purchased in 1994, the duplex row house was renovated in 2005. With the help of architect Mr. Ganesh Shenoy she was able to bring her dream house to life.

As we enter the home, we get a view of the staircase, with doors to the kitchen and passage to the dining. The area below the staircase has been used very well and leads to the dining. The best part here is that beautiful lush front yard can be seen from the living, kitchen and Dining room. And it has my heart. Such an idyllic scene to look at the whole day. The verandah also has comfortable planter chairs for some relaxing. The pergola is a recent addition and I can imagine the treat its going to be in a couple of months.


The Koppikers collected different pieces of furniture over the years and some were very lucky finds. The heavy wooden antique book case, the sofa sets in wood were mostly bought in the US during their stay there. Most of the furniture is in wood with cane backing and they bring an organic ambience to the home. The distressed wooden sculptures she picked up at different places gives her home an antique vibe. The Kamadhenu on the landing, the ducks in the entrance foyer are all such finds. The Hanuman in Kinhal is a recent purchase and she smiles fondly remembering the struggle it was to convince the airlines to allow the transport and all the packing it involved.

Family room

View from the kitchen

The kitchen was definitely a favourite with me. The rooster collection, the ceramics, plants in pretty planters, baskets and glass with the quaint seating for two ….all of them are picture perfect. The kitchen also overlooks the lush greenery outside. Though I am not a big fan of cooking, I could cook here forever. On second thoughts maybe I would just sit with a book and a cuppa looking at all the greenery.

At the kitchen entrance

Nivedita has put in a lot of thought into every aspect of designing the furniture, wardrobes and even frames. The cane weaves from Assam that have been sandwitched between glass , the jute backing for brass figurines are just some examples in this lovely home.

Bedroom vibes

Family room on the first floor

Staircase landing wall

Coffee table decor

Where the neighbours have used every inch of available space to extend their homes, she has ingenuously used the extended walls to bring in some old world charm in her green space. The old wooden shutters with lamps hanging at different levels, gives this space a vintage look.

View from the gate

The drawing room

The Verandah

As we sit down for lunch and I relish a home cooked meal, I don’t want to leave and wish I could remember this place forever. And I think I will…. wouldn’t you?

PS- I had so many beautiful images from this home that I was at a loss on which ones to keep from this post. So will put up a video soon.

Lots of twinkles to all of you


Home tour – Dr.Kumar & Mrs. Vasudha

Home tour – Dr.Kumar & Mrs. Vasudha

Architect Mies van der Rohe believed that God is in the details. If God is in the details, then this home is a temple.

A beautiful corner

I went over to Vasudha Aunty’s place to deliver Venki Palimar’s terracotta sculpture and ended up clicking pictures and requesting a home tour. Sometimes you connect to people irrespective of age or any other social parameters. Our love for art and décor was an instant connector and we bonded just like that.

Beautiful carved Goddess

An aesthetically decorated home built over two levels, her love for Indian art and sculptures is reflected in her rich collection of over 30 years. She tells me about her hunts in the different parts of Bangalore looking for treasures which now have pride of place. Right at the entrance you get a glimpse of the personality of the home maker. A beautiful mail box painted in Madhubani greets the visitors and the quaint bell announces her love for brass. In the cosy garden by the car park area Vasudha Aunty has used the compound wall to make a statement.

The colourful entrance

The Garden decor

Beautiful soft stone sculptures of Hanuman, Nandi and many more in nooks bring an ethereal appeal to the garden. Offset by the greens of the plants and terracotta sculptures I can only imagine how relaxing it must be to sit by this in twilight with lights glimmering.

The warm living area

Her collection is so vast that she cannot display them all. Her doll collection in Kinhal is something I am looking forward to. Just one or two pieces were outside and the rest were packed away. I can’t wait for Dasara and Gombehabba display at their place.

Warli Art mural

Madhubani Mural and a colourful chair

You will notice a lot of artwork which she picked up at the different Chitrasanthes. She has her favourites and goes back to their stalls every year! The wide range in woodwork carvings is picked up by her on holidays in Karikkudi. She recalls these shopping trips with a twinkle in her eye, remembering what a steal the panel was. In fact she recalls that there was a gentleman who immediately offered her a price three times of what she paid. But she tells me that she had already fallen in love with the piece and refused the tempting offer.

Beautiful collection of Carved Panels

Dr. Kumar and Vasudha Aunty have built this home with love and this is reflected in the well preserved beautiful warli art by their daughter Sowmya. She has inherited her mom’s love for art and has painted a chair in pretty bright colours. Aunty has lovinglykept her son’s and daughter’s toys which form a display all on their own.

Original Artwork collections

They have also built a farmhouse in the traditional style with an open atrium and Atthangudi tiles for flooring. I have been invited to visit the farmhouse and I can’t wait to see it. Vasudha Aunty,an endearing lady with a warm home reflecting her personality and love for Indian aesthetics, this lady has my heart.

Lots of twinkles