Karnataka - A Cultural Odyssey is a glossy 200-page coffee table book that gives you a quick and easy bird’s eye view of several aspects of the State

It’s a coffee table book specially meant for guests of the Raj Bhavan, the home of the Governor of Karnataka, and it fulfils its purpose of offering a visitor to the state glimpses of a bit of everything.

Karnataka – A Cultural Odyssey has 200-odd pages of glossy pictures, some really interesting profile pictures of the greats of the State, peppered with nuggets of text.

Hans Raj Bhardwaj, Governor of Karnataka, says in the foreword of the book: “This is the book that we have specially commissioned for the Raj Bhavan to bring out the cultural grandeur of the entire State. The purpose of this book is to enable visitors to Karnataka to embark on a cultural odyssey of this vast state, and to carry back memories of its rich heritage and vibrant society.” The book also takes readers on tour of the Raj Bhavan, allowing a peek into the hallowed grandeur of its interiors, its many abundant gardens and their winged occupants.

You can leisurely flip through pages of historic structures, the history of the State’s several ruling dynasties, spiritual sects and movements, centres of worship that are a treasure trove of myths and legends, festivals that bind the various communities, the thriving art scene, the disparate cuisine, traditional crafts and textiles of the state, cinema, music, English and Kannada theatre, historic monuments spread across the state.

To highlight a few chapters, the heritage and architecture section looks at rock-cut caves of the Chalukyas, British and Islamic architecture, the historic monuments of Srirangapatna, a peek into Chitradurga’s Obavvana Kindi, and talks of the splendour of Belur-Halebid and Hampi, delves into the Islamic architecture of Bidar, Gulbarga, skims over the Agastya-Tirtha lake of Badami. The Fount of Faith chapter takes you on a tour of the gurudwaras, dargahs, churches and cathedrals, the temples of the coastal belt, Jain monuments, and Buddhist monastries.

The chapter on The Arts divides itself into music, which travels into sugama sangeetha, janapada songs, Karnataka’s tradition of Hindustani music. The theatre section features the institution of company theatre in the state, the New Wave, and a brief look at English theatre. The section on Kannada cinema takes you in brief through its various periods. The section on dance looks at the history of court dancers, lists dance phenomenons from across the state and time. There are interesting looks at fold dances, the theatre-dance confluence — this section brings together a colourful collage of images. The book wraps up with a chapter called Memorable Moments that captures in pictures the high points of events at the Raj Bhavan between 2010 and 2013.

The limited-edition book contains over 200 stunning photographs from a battery of photographers including Dinesh Shukla, K.G. Somsekhar and Asha Thadani, and is designed by Mishta Roy. The 200-page book also has articles by architect Naresh Narasimhan, film scholar M.K. Raghavendra, theatre persons Prakash Belawadi and Sreenivas G. Kappanna, musician-author Vikram Sampath, danseuse Madhu Natraj, professor M.S. Asha Devi and artist Suresh Jayaram. The book is edited by Sandhya Mendonca, MD and Editor-in-Chief, Raintree Media.

On his first visit to Bangalore since taking office, President of India Pranab Mukherjee was presented the first copy of the book.