Expressway leaves out famous toymakers

Channapatna craftsmen, traders say sales are falling Bangalore-Mysuru the highway steals customers from them

The 10-day Dasara festival is also known to host Gombe Habba (Feast of the dolls). This is also the time when Channapatna rises to the occasion as he is famous throughout the country for making dolls. However, this year the doll festival failed to do big business in Channapatna and locals blame it on the Benglauru-Mysuru highway.

Previously, travel between Benglauru and Mysuru had to be done primarily via Channapatna (if the Ramanagar course has been chosen). However, to avoid traffic jams, the new highway bypasses both Ramanagar and Channapatna and as a result traders say potential buyers are staying away from the area.

Mustafa Pasha, a doll dealer in Channapatna, said he had been selling Channapatna dolls since 1963. “This is the first year I’ve seen such a drop in sales because many customers say they don’t want to make a detour to Channapatna. Many families depend on making and selling Channapatna dolls and have been hit hard now,” he said.

Traders say it is time for government to promote Channapatna toys through online mode. A trader said that last year the government held a toy festival where there was a provision to buy toys online which helped boost sales.

Locals say Channapatna toys have a history of hundreds of years. He got a big push during the reign of Tipu Sultan as it is said that he arranged for the coaches of Persian train local artisans. In 1902, a training institute for Channapatna toymakers was organized by Dewans of Mysore.

This is the first year that I have seen such a drop in sales because many do not want to take a detour to Channapatna

–Mustafa Pasha, craftsman

Meanwhile, officials said they were doing their best to help artisans. Channapatna toys are part of the rich cultural and traditional heritage of Karnataka and the toys have been awarded the Geographical indicationwhich would go a long way to helping artisans’ livelihoods, an official said.

Karnataka has also partnered with an e-commerce company to conduct trainings, webinars and onboarding workshops. “The workshops will focus on knowledge sharing and training on B2C e-commerce exports and selling globally through international e-commerce marketplaces to more customers,” an official said.

Some locals are also helping Channapatna’s toy makers go high-tech. They are now making items that have a high demand in the market, which can also earn them income. Channapatna toymakers now offer lights that help you sleep well. Sources say that this valuable craft was dying out due to low demand in the market as many Channapatna craftsmen worked as coolies.

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