Even before I enter the Heritage home in Mayagundi my eyes chance upon a beautiful Kinhal doll as big as me. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat tells me that he found it washed away on the beach with just the leg showing up from beneath the sand. He had it dug up and got the doll home. It used to be part of a temple and was left into the water when damaged. Though a lot of superstitions are attached to old things, Mr. Bhat only sees the aesthetic value and the heritage it represents.
He started collecting old materials from homes being demolished nearly 20 years back. That was when he dreamt of constructing an organic home reminiscent of times gone by. This heritage home at Mayagundi is just that. As he takes us through the different sections, he recalls what it was like so many years ago. He would go to homes being demolished in the interiors of Karnataka with a truck and people would bring antiques , old boxes, vessels,furniture and fill up the truck. He shows me a beautiful wooden chest given away. A carved panel he rescued before it was burnt as firewood and many such gems. Off course when he got them they were not as beautiful. It takes a connoisseur to recognise their value and Mr. Bhat restores them to their lost beauty.
There are many stories and memories attached to each and every piece in his collection. The beautiful statues of the thirteen Tirthankaras are one such memory. These were part of a house bought by Muslims and guessing it must be a deity, Mr Bhat was given a call. He also has a collection of musical instruments, old books and books on art and heritage. This heritage home gives us a glimpse of life as it used to be a mere fifty to hundred years ago.
The beauty of this Heritage home is it’s organic structure called the ‘chaukmalle’ or the central courtyard surrounded by pillars and the rest of the home. The courtyard which is open to the elements in nature is not only energy efficient but also the Brahma Sthan or the place of divinity. In traditional homes this was the place to plant the holy basil. After the porch area which is an open forum for informal conversations, there is the verandah and then the inner courtyard which is bright and airy. I can only imagine what bliss it must be to sit here and be part of nature even as you enjoy the cool home. The roof of this heritage home is made of Mangalore tiles on wooden rafters, all rescued from old homes. The kitchen is fully furnished with all the old vessels which would have been a part of our ancestors’ lives. Vessels made of stone, mud and kanchu. Having a bathroom as well, this is a fully furnished home. He tells me that during the day he invariably spends his time here, with a book and a cup of tea.
As we step out onto the backyard I notice that the window has no panels and I ask about Intruders or animals getting in. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat smiles and shows me how the whole set up works. The window is a complete set with a wooden bench and this can be lifted to close the window. Such a beautiful concept and so sturdy I was truly stunned.
We talk of the engineering concepts incorporated in design hundreds of years ago and the beauty and details which were a part of any design or work. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat proudly tells us that the house was constructed without the use of cement, glass or iron. Laterite stone powdered, limestone and jaggery is mixed and used between the bricks to put them together. Preethi asks about reinforcement and he tells us that this can be used for slabs as well. The plastering was done by hand with organic materials such as limestone and jaggery. An old man who knew the work was brought in to supervise the construction.
Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat recalls how he had a tough time getting someone who knew this work to supervise the construction. It was finally a man in his seventies who would sit and oversee the work. The uniqueness of this house is in the fact that all the materials were restored and reused from houses being demolished. He goes to the interiors of Kundapur to look for such treasures. He has a business concern of such old materials, but pieces that touch his heart find a home here.
It is not surprising that many are unaware of this beautiful home. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat always discouraged any commercial use of the property. It is only for the art lovers and those who value heritage that the doors open. A beautiful musical has also been shot here and he loves to organise classical musical evenings here. Very recently there was a live watercolour demonstration by artist Mr. Somayaji as part of the cultural art program organised by Drishya school of art. This was one of the many events which take place here.
He also shows us the unique lock and key on the front door. As he locks the door I wish I could stay here forever. But luckily for me he says I could come again. So until next time.
Lots of Twinkles to you.