Published: 29th May 2021
Why you'll love the online History courses crafted around Karnataka's greatest monuments, by the Historywallahs
Basav Biradar of Historywallahs tells us why he likes to take people on heritage walks in Bengaluru and across the state. It's all about the culture and history of Karnataka for him
Reading books on heritage and history might not seem interesting to everybody. Most people would rather visit monuments and listen to these stories to get a decent download of their state's culture and heritage. But to do that, you need people who can facilitate these visits and provide the right information. That's where Historywallahs, an organisation started by Basav Biradar and his friends in 2018, comes into play. Heritage walks in Bengaluru and even across Karnataka, this group helps people understand the rich culture and heritage of the state the right way.
Basav, originally from Vijayapura (then called Bijapur), says, "I come from a city that has beautiful architectural buildings, Gol Gumbaz being one of them. My interest in history, heritage and culture has been intact since my college days. But how many of us really take the initiative to disseminate this knowledge and information that we have? A lot of academic work on history is not accessible to the general public and nobody takes an interest to read books. That's why I found the idea of heritage walks an interesting way to disseminate all the information I have. In fact, Historywallahs was started even before 2018 but we registered it only three years ago. We are well known for our museum walks where we tell people everything there is to know about museums and their administration.”
Before the pandemic hit and the many lockdowns ensued, Historywallahs were organising two types of tours. The first was their public tours where anybody could join and you get to meet new people and learn history with them. The other was their private tours where a group reaches out to Basav's team to let them know what they would like to see and, based on that, the visits to places of importance are organised. In any of these categories, the tours are organised by scholars or researchers whose information on these places is well-researched. What makes them unique is their Instagram page, @historywallahs, which has photos of places and monuments with additional information on who built them and their purpose.
Besides organising tours, Historywallahs take up consulting projects. "Since we do a lot of field research as well as archival research, we thought that it would be apt to work on certain projects that can help individuals as well as organisations. One such project that we have taken up recently is working with the Government Museum in Shimoga which is being renovated as a part of the Smart City Project. We are involved in researching the intangible heritage of the city which can be later exhibited at the museum. We did field and archival research to provide a good amount of information, we met people and visited various institutions in Shimoga," says this EEE graduate from Visveswaraya Technological University (VTU).
He continues, "When we spoke to the people in Shimoga, we unearthed how the Gudigara community migrated from the Konkan coast and settled in the Malenadu region. They became the leading wooden sculptors and carpenters in the 20th century. They would get a lot of commissioned work from princely states and even from the Europeans. So, we tracked the history of this community and mapped it ourselves. It was also interesting to trace and learn about the public architecture of the Nayakas of Keladi. They have built huge reservoirs, step-wells and tanks that are used by people even today.”
Historywallahs also conduct courses for school children. “We created a four-week course on Indian architecture for school kids. When the lockdown was announced, we moved to online courses on how a city must be developed, what it must include and so on. These courses became very popular and they were something unique for kids to learn that wasn't in their textbooks. We also conducted a course on how to make maps. They learnt the technicalities, rules and history of maps,” explains Basav, adding, “The pandemic has taken a toll on everybody and it is the same with us. However, we are planning to involve ourselves in a few more research projects, start a podcast series on heritage and, of course, keep the Instagram page going, as well as create a website for Historywallahs.”