Even on a Monday evening, the Durga Parameshwari temple in Vidyaranyapura is crowded. A special pooja is being conducted on a dias in front of the main deity. A traditional band is part of a sizable group attending the pooja and the strains of the nadaswaram and the thavil add to the beauty of the pleasant evening.

The Durga Parameshwari temple is one of the highlights of Vidyaranyapura, along with the Siddhi Vinayaka temple. Though it seems like the elderly account for much of the crowd, it is not very hard to spot families with kids in tow, as well as a noticeable number of young people. The temple promotes cultural activities, especially during festivals.

Cultural activity in Vidyaranyapura is largely limited to classical music and dance.

‘Youngsters keen’

“There are many musicians around the area and people are highly receptive to classical music. Every year I perform at the Durga temple on special occasions like Navratri or New Year. I see that many youngsters who are doing professional courses are keen to participate in the concerts and keen to learn music as well,” says Carnatic musician Ramesh Chintanapalli. He also conducts music lessons in the area. “I have students who are as young as 10 and as old as fifty.”

But Geetha Vasanth, Carnatic artiste and teacher at the Nadabrahma Sangeetha Vidyalaya at Vidyaranyapura, has a different opinion.

“Many of the residents are working professionals, so they do not have time to attend regular classes. But I do teach a lot of kids and elders who weren’t able to learn music in their childhood,” she says.

Regular concerts

Still, she agrees that the temples play a significant role in keeping the cultural activity in the area going. “The temples here conduct regular concerts. The Ganesha temple, for instance, has a concert going on almost every month. These temples are the main promoters of music and dance in the locality. I feel that schools should take up more responsibility and make music and dance compulsory for students.”

Geetha feels that much of the crowd that attends the concerts is limited to friends and relatives of the performing artist.

Music-lover Jayanth Ganapathy, a working professional, also agrees. But he believes that the locality has the potential to become an upcoming cultural hotspot, although he finds that music is more popular than dance.

“It is difficult to know when a concert is happening in the temples. It is usually only known to those who are in the circle. Besides, festivities in older, neighboring areas are grander,” he points out.

“On the other hand, there are some very good teachers in the locality. Vidyaranyapura has a stronger cultural rooting compared to newer neighbourhoods.”

Geetha also observes that most people are likely to go to concerts within the city rather than come here. “So it is only the local crowd that attends the concerts.”

‘A great place to settle’

The neighbourhood of Vidyaranyapura, named after the 14th century statesman, philosopher and priest Vidyaranya, is known for its greenery, and its calm surrounds. Since it is located in the suburbs, there is always some construction or maintenance activity going on, which makes driving difficult, especially on the main road.

“Still it is a great place to settle down because it is just outside the city, all the amenities are available and it is located close to the airport. But it is more a retirement paradise than a hotspot,” adds Jayanth.