Restored ‘Chikmagalur House’ Inaugurated by U.S. Consul General Jennifer McIntyre

CHENNAI: U.S. Consul General Jennifer McIntyre inaugurated the restored ‘Chikmagalur House’ and an exhibition on ‘A Shared Heritage’ at the DakshinaChitra Museum, Muttukadu on Saturday, July 5, 2014.  The author of The Hussaini Alam House, Huma R. Kidwai, was the chief guest.  The exhibition was funded by the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai.  The original house was built by K.A. Mohamed in 1914 in Aldur, Chikmagalur.  The house represents a part of the history of Chikmagalur district, Karnataka.  Mohamed’s ancestors immigrated to Bijapur from Turkey several centuries ago and later to Chikmagalur.

U.S. Consul General Jennifer McIntyre said, “DakshinaChitra, is a wonderful showcase and celebration of South India’s rich cultural texture.  I have personally enjoyed each and every visit to DakshinaChitra – learning something new on each trip – and regularly recommend our U.S. visitors come here to better understand South India’s history and cultures. So, I was particularly delighted that the U.S. Consulate had the opportunity this year to partner with DakshinaChitra on this ‘Chikmagalur House’ project, showcasing the unique traditions of the Muslim community in South India.”

Madras Craft Foundation (MCF) President Deborah Thiagarajan said, “I am very happy to have the opportunity to be able to show in a small way the history and contribution of Muslims from South India to the culture of India.”

MCF spearheaded the ‘Chikmagalur House’ as part of its DakshinaChitra project for presentation and preservation of the diverse cultures, arts, architecture and performing arts of India.  MCF reconstructed the house using timber, stone, laterite, tiles and any other salvageable material from the old house.  With eight separate rooms and exhibits, the house will recreate the life of the trader, and illustrate the story of Indian-Arabian trade from before the first century BCE through the advent of Islam in the early seventh century.  The Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries ImaginAsia Family Program coordinator, Stephen Truax Eckerd, will serve as the historical educational consultant.

The exhibition also features the procedure for reconstructing the house and the history of the house; a silent film projection of images from Dargahs of South India as part of an exhibition on Sufism, which includes both poems from Sufis as well as Bhakti poetry by the poet Andal; trade relations from Arabia to India, both imports and exports predating the beginning of Islam; history of the Deccan and Muslim vernacular architecture and the contributions made to architectural techniques and design; as well as the interplay of both traditional south Indian designs and techniques with those of the architecture from North India and Turkey.