Monday, 12 August 2013

The bone setters of Bangalore Pete

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us,”so said Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England and one of the great wartime leaders of all times.
This adage perfectly fits the City of Bangalore and more appropriately this was one of the few cities that the young Churchill lived and wooed his sweetheart at the iconic Waverly Inn in Whitefield, near Bangalore.
Legend has it that Churchill courted Rose Hamilton, the daughter of the inn keeper, James Hamilton. The young soldier that Churchill was then, frequented the inn regularly. Waverly today is one of the oldest houses in the area that still stands. It was owned in 1882 by James Hamilton who owned many properties in Whitefield.
Churchill might have been saying the adage about the building about the Inn in Whitefield. But this adage today is more appropriate to describe old and heritage buildings in Bangalore such as the Kayangadi Papanna Massage Institute in Akkipet, which is perhaps one of the oldest message and bone treatment centres of Bangalore.
The origin of  this building is shrouded in the past which goes back to more than 150 years. Bangalore was then just a small city and the Pete and Cantonment were two different areas. The Pete then comprised of old localities such as Akkipet, Cottonpet, Nagarthpet, Balepet, Chickpet, Ranasinghpet, Doddapet and all the petes had their own Garadi manes or wrestling centres.
It was sometime around 1860 and Tipu Sultan had died on May 4, 1799, leaving the British to meddle with the Mysore Kingdom. The British always had an eye on Bangalore and they coveted the city. However try as they might, they failed to get the Mysore Wodeyars to permanently hand over Bangalore to them.
The only way in which they could lay their hands on a piece of Bangalore was by setting up a Cantonment to station their garrison. When the Cantonment came about, the British began systematically destroying everything Indian and this included indigenous sports, industries, education system and even the social and religious fabric.
Wrestling or Kusti soon went into a tailspin as the British encouraged golf, polo, cricket and football. The number  of garadi manes in Bangalore began decreasing and there were only a handful of people who took to wrestling. Besides, most of the wrestlers shifted to Mysore as the Wodeyar Kings were patrons of Kusti.
Mysore, after the death of  Tipu, saw a resurgence of Garadi manes and man of them exist even today in the royal city. In those days, and I am talking of the period from 1800 to Independence, wrestlers from Bangalore and Mysore competed against each other.
One of Bangalore’s best known pehalwans or Kusti exponents was Kayangadi Papanna. This wrestler initially eked out his living in Bangalore by selling coconuts and he also had a shop in Akkipet selling coconuts.
According to a local legend, Papanna honed in his wrestling skills at the garadi manes and took part in many contests. A remarkably strong person, Pappanna soon earned renown as a foremost wrestler of Bangalore.
His fame spread far and wide and he displayed his skills before the Mysore Maharaja in Mysore where he defeated  more fancied opponents. The then Mysore Maharaja, Chamarejendra Wodeyar, the tenth, conferred the title Ustad on Pappanna in 1876.
By then, Pappanna had set up his own Garadi Mane and even a small clinic to treat injuries that wrestlers got while fighting or practicising.
Slowly, Pappanna retired from wrestling but the reputation of his clinic only began growing. Every year, saw more people flocking to the clinic to get their injuries treated. Over the years, the clinic transformed itself into what is now known as Kayangadi Papanna Massage Institute.
The institute was set up sometime in 1860 and it is today a well-known landmark of OTC Road in Akkipet. The institute is located just after another iconic building- the Tawakkal Mastan Darga.  
Papanna learnt how to make oils and tie bandages from a Muslim of the Pete. Initially, he treated his shishyas or budding wrestlers but his treatment became so popular that people began flocking to his clinic.
Even today, the descendents of Pappanan operate the institute and treat people suffering from a variety of bone ailments. There is no fixed charges but a box is kept nearby where patients are supposed to donate whatever money they can.
The institute has had celebrity patients, including two former Chief Minister D. Devaraj Urs and R. Gundu Rao, a Maharaja who had backache and several other distinguished people.
Strangely, neither the buildings nor the OTC road itself which commences from BMP headquarters and goes all the way to Goods Shed Road, have changed in the last two centuries. It is on this road that the Dharmaraya Temple is situated and it is here that the famed Karaga commences.
Today, the institute has four branches and all of them are named after Kayangadi Papanna. However, the pone I am writing about is the Ustad Kayangadi Papanna’s Massage Institute in the Pete area. The address is  276/4, UKP Building, Akkipet Main Road (2287-5156). The timings are:  Monday to Saturday 8.30am-1.30pm and 4 p.m., to 8p m. Sundays 9 a. m., to 1p.m.

Churchill’s adage is an apt comment on the building that houses the institute. The institute today is much better known and more popular that the people who practice bone setting and provide a cure for other ailments. Want to check it out. Then head for the Pete and take in a slice of Indian history and culture. Mind you, the treatment is ayurvedic based and ayurveda is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. 

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