A newfound enthusiasm for Halmidi

The village where the earliest extant Kannada inscription was found attracts more tourists now

Published - October 31, 2019 11:14 pm IST - Hassan

A replica of inscription at Halmidi in Belur taluk. File photo by Prakash Hassan

A replica of inscription at Halmidi in Belur taluk. File photo by Prakash Hassan

Halmidi, the tiny village where Kannada’s earliest extant inscription was found, till recently had hardly any visitors despite its significance in the history of the language. Now, thanks to an initiative by villagers and the formation of the Halmidi Shasana Grama Trust, there is an increased enthusiasm.

What’s more, the trust has decided to hold a two-day cultural festival in the village every year. The first of it will be held on November 23 to 24. Recent years has also seen hundreds of children have their ceremony to mark initiation into learning ‘Akshara Abhyasa’ here, thanks to a private school based in Hassan.

The “Halmidi inscription” — dated to 450 A.D. — was found in the 1930s by M.H. Krishna, who was Director of Archaeology. Later, the rectangular sandstone inscription was shifted to the Archaeology Museum in Bengaluru. In 2003, a replica of the inscription was installed in the village and a memorial hall (Nenapina Mantap) built. H.B. Madan Gowda, then president of Hassan district Kannada Sahitya Parishat, says: “Everybody knew about the place, but hardly visited.” The fibreglass replica enthused people to visit the place. “We have decided to hold literary and cultural events in the village, besides giving attention to basic needs of the village,” says Mr. Madan Gowda, who heads the trust.

Local people have donated a site to the Kannada Sahitya Parishat to build a community hall in the village. “The Kannada and Culture Department provided ₹25 lakh and with that, a centre for cultural events has come up,” said H.L. Janardana, another former president of the parishat’s district unit.

Meanwhile, Scholars World School has chosen Halmidi as the venue for initiation ceremony for its children. Every year, the school holds the ceremony in a place where first-written Kannada characters were found. “I chose Halmidi because it serves our motto to hold our events in a non-religious place. Kannada is a language for all students, irrespective of religion,” said H.N. Chandrashekhar, who heads the school. Earlier this year, Padma Shri winner Ibrahim Sutar, popularly known as Kabir of Kannada, initiated 75 children into learning.

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