Understanding India: Kuppalli and Kuvempu

An art gallery displaying the works of prominent and local Indian artists

Kuppalli is a small village in Southern India, located in Karnataka. The lush green landscape holds the home and museum dedicated to legendary Kannada poet and scholar Kuvempu. His home, a tiered three story, sits plump between stretching palms. Inside the building is an open-air courtyard. The square roofs open up to the sky all year round. Below the open roof is a huge square pool. When we went it was empty, but the pool was actually the inspiration for the local name of the house Thotti Mane, "Thotti" meaning pond. 

Surrounding the pond are hallways each which lead either up into the second level or into rooms. Because of the central opening of the structure, a breeze circulates the pond making a natural air conditioning that provides relief from the heat of India and is architecturally magical. This home turned museum now holds artifacts of Kuvempu’s life and writing. Each storey of the home holds treasures trapped behind glass casings for viewing. 

Kuppalli is also the site of a giant stone monument, called Kavishaila. These incredible structures are the gateway to an overlook where Kuvempu would seek inspiration and hold discussions with friends. At first, the landscape is dense and hard. Rock under feet and overhead are a reminder of the lasting quality of nature. But soon the landscape draws back like a curtain to reveal rows and rows of tree tops in shifting colors of green. Near the edge of the overlook are stone benches situated in a circle for discussion and enjoyment. Between cracks in the stone floor, trees and flowers fought their way to bloom, contrasting permanence with the strength of growth. The stone provides a reverb for quiet conversations, bird songs and breezes swishing between leafed branches. 

A stone slab near Kavishaila is where Kuvempu was laid to rest. While there, someone stuck a flower between the meeting stones for the poet and scholar. Young couples sat in the grass near the shade, between the stone structures and slab, others walked the landscape slowly taking in the refreshing site of openness, stretching before them. 
Kuvempu's home, now a museum
We also visited a small artist’s village. Similar to residencies, artists stay in small tiled roof houses and work. We caught artists mid paint stoke while colorful women dazzled their canvases.

India India India India
O nanna chetana, Agu nee aniketana
"Be unhoused O my soul, only the infinite is your goal"

Read more: 
The Arrival 
Chennakesava Temple
Mysore Palace
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Around the Coffee Plantation
Elephant Camp Pt. 1
Elephant Camp Pt. 2
King of Cobras
Kuppalli and Kuvempu
Elephant Bath

We were in India to complete the filming of the documentary Elephants in the Coffee. And now it’s done. It explores the elephant-human conflict that has been happening in India. The coffee you drink has most likely been wandered through by elephants. They are a nuisance to farmers, but also a god in the Hindu belief. You cannot destroy a god. But you can scare it off with crackers and shotgun blasts. The elephant habitat is shrinking. In its place villages and farms have moved in. Elephants walk the same paths they have for hundreds of years, even if houses, crops, or people stand in their way. How could anyone stop them? Electric fences, trenches and steel beams have been used and are being used to keep them out and keep people safe. Nobody wants a god wandering through their crops eating their jack fruit, trampling their livelihood. But a god cannot be stopped.  


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