The three-day Dharwad Zilla Utsav is back after seven years to showcase the cultural hub in all its creative splendour

The Dharwad Zilla Utsav takes wing after a long gap of seven years, and fittingly so at a time when the state is celebrating its golden jubilee year of formation.The three-day festival starting November 17 will revive the character of the city of Dharwad that has always carried the tag of "cultural capital" and has been seen as a confluence of literary, art and cultural activities from ages.The district administration, led by Deputy Commissioner M.S. Srikar, has put together a three-day cultural extravaganza, hoping also to showcase the cultural heritage of the district, and provide a glimpse into the various art forms in vogue. Dharwad, which acted as a gateway between malenaadu and bayalu seeme for centuries, has a history of around 900 years, according to historians. Apart from being historically important, Dharwad district has been a hub of cultural activities for many years.Dharwad was also on the forefront of the educational movement in North Karnataka with the setting up of the Government Boys School (now known as District Institute of Educational Training or DIET) 150 years ago and then later the establishment of Karnataka College, has also become synonymous with quality education.Although prominence has been given to local artists, several well-known artists from other states are performing during the festival. Ismat Apa Ke Naam, a play in Hindustani enacted by film star and theatre artist Naseeruddin Shaw, is one of the main attractions of the utsav. Kathak exponent of international fame Malabika Mitra will be performing on the inaugural day of the festival, while vocalist from Madhya Pradesh Gokulotsav Maharaj will perform on the second day.There is an impressive line up of artists like Raghunath Nakod, Ravikiran Nakod, Sripathi Padigar, Vasant Kanakapur, Kaivalyakumar Gurav, M. Venkatesh Kumar, Naganath Wodeyar, Sujata Rajgopal and others who will be performing during the utsav. There are several schools of dance and music that will be represented at the utsav.As many as 10 plays will be staged during the utsav, spread across many venues, and presented simultaneously. Apart from plays of amateur theatre groups, the utsav will feature plays by traditional theatre companies as well. Folk troupes from across the district will present various folk arts including somana kunita, janapada haadu, patta kunita, tatva pada, nandi dhwaja kunita, karadi majalu, kinnari padagalu, lambani nrutya, hejje mela, sampradayada haadugalu and so on.The utsav is not just about music and dance. The organisers have made it a point to bring into the utsav the involvement of painters and sculptors also. As many as 150 young painters from the district and scores of senior artists from the state are participating in the event. An exhibition of their paintings will be held at Government Art Gallery and Srujana Rangamandir, New Art Gallery at Vidayanagar in Hubli. Another highlight will perhaps be the painting camp that will be held at the Karnatak College grounds, in which as many as 40 artists will be participating.While the Kalabhavan will be the venue for an exhibition of rare photographs of important historical monuments, the Hangal Music Foundation, Bendre Kutir and Vidyavardhak Sangha will host various exhibitions including those on philately and rare letters.With artists and writers joining hands with the district administration in organising the utsav, the cultural festival promises to be a rare and long-awaited treat for connoisseurs of art, music and dance.