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Karnataka’s cultural calendar

Pilgrims gather by the Tungabhadra in Hampi
Image courtesy: Arian Zwegers

In this excerpt from Short Escapes from Bengaluru, bharatanatyam exponent and cultural expert, Vani Ganapathy shares some of Karnataka’s cultural highlights:


Bengaluru Habba: The week-long youthful fest brings a medley of performing arts at venues across the city in January after Sankaranti. Free.

Chitrasanthe:  The Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath hosts an annual one-day art and sculpture festival in late January. www.

Hampi Utsava: Classical music and dance, folk arts and crafts come alive before the temples and archaeological site of Hampi. The crème of performers congregate here in November.

Karavali Utsava: Witness the best of Carnatic and Hindustani music and dance; folk art, crafts and food are addons. Held at Karvar, Mangalore each winter.

Lakkundi Utsav: In Gadag, located amidst ancient Hindu and Jain temples, the festival hosts classical performances and folk arts. May–Jun

Ramanavami Music Festival: The Garden City’s classical music fest held at Fort School grounds at Chamrajapet over a month, beginning April. For the connoisseur.

Nagamandala: This ritual performance to appease the spirit of a serpent is unique to Dakshina Kannada and coastal districts of Udupi. Dancers dress as serpent maidens or nagakannikas and perform late into the night. Dec–Apr

Rangashankara Fest: Karnataka’s theatre gurus Girish Karnad and Arundathi Nag host the annual theatre festival. Good drama guaranteed. Nov–Dec;

Yakshagana Festival: Yakshagana is a native folk art form of Karnataka that involves dance, music, pantomime, with elaborate costumes. Yakshagana festivals are held in venues across Karnataka including Uttara and Dakshina Kannada, Kasargode, Shimoga, and are gaining popularity in Bengaluru.