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Geographical Indications of Mysuru

Karnataka produces 9,000 metric tons of mulberry silk of a total of 14,000 metric tons produced in the country, thus contributing to nearly 70% of the country’s total mulberry silk. In Karnataka, silk is mainly grown in the Mysore district.

The growth of the silk industry in the Kingdom of Mysore was first initiated during the reign of Tipu Sultan. Later it was hit by a global depression, and competition from imported silk and rayon. In the second half of the 20th century, it revived and the Mysore State became the top multivoltine silk producer in India.

The silk weaving factory in Mysore, presently owned by KSIC, was established in the year 1912 by the Maharaja of Mysore province. Initially the silk fabrics were manufactured & supplied to meet the requirements of the royal family and ornamental fabrics to their armed forces.

The unit was started with 10 looms and gradually increased to 44 looms over a period. The looms and preparatory machines were imported from Switzerland and was the first of its kind in India. After India gained Independence the Mysore state Sericulture Dept. took control of the silk weaving factory.

In 1980 the Silk weaving factory was handed over to Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation Ltd., a Govt. of Karnataka enterprise and is popularly known as KSIC.

In the early 20th century, the Mysore Kingdom in India was one of the largest producers of sandalwood in the world. It was also one of the major exporters of the wood, most of which was exported to Europe. During the First World War, large reserves of sandalwood were left over because they could not be exported due to the war. In order to make good use of these reserves, Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the king of Mysore established the Government Soap Factory in Bangalore. This factory, which was set up in 1916, started manufacturing soaps under the brand-name Mysore sandal soap using sandalwood oil as the main ingredient. A factory to distill sandalwood oil from the wood was set up at Mysore in the same year. In 1944, another sandalwood oil factory was set up at Shimoga. After the unification of Karnataka, these factories came under the jurisdiction of the Government of Karnataka. In 1980, the Government decided to merge these factories and incorporate them under a company named Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited. Sharabha, a mythological creature having a body of a lion and the head of an elephant, was chosen as the logo of the company. This was because the creature represents the combined virtues of wisdom, courage and strength and symbolizes the company’s philosophy. The company has since diversified and manufactures incense sticks, talcum powder and detergents, apart from soaps

Mysore is a land of million aromas. The aroma of incense sticks or agarbathi’s is one that has both religious as well as aesthetic appeal. Apart from the incense sticks many variants such as doopa’s etc.. are also made in Mysore.

The hand rolled, incense sticks, provide employment to numerous people as it is a labor intensive industry. The huge base of workers in Mysore and surrounding areas provides the right atmosphere for such an industry. The variety provided by these incense sticks is diverse.

Mysuru is rather famous for its unique variety of Banana called the “Nanajangud Rasabale”, “Rasabale” itself is a unique variety of Banana and is known for its sweetness and flavor. Unlike the Plantain types, which we get normally, Rasabale is sweeter and has a smoother texture. Nanjangud Rasabale is a variety of Rasabale that has a very unique taste and slightly grainy to smooth texture. This banana is grown only in the areas surrounding Nanjangud. These bananas are rarely available in the market but are picked up immediately once they arrive.

Sandalwood oil is perhaps best known in the west as a sweet, warm, rich and woody essential oil used as is for a body fragrance, and as an ingredient in fragrant products such as incense, perfumes, aftershaves and other cosmetics. But the story of sandalwood, the divine essence, goes much further. Sandalwood has been a part of the religious and spiritual traditions of India since prehistory and has been effectively used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.

About seven dedcades ago, cultivation of these small green leaves were spread over at least 100 acres from Poorniah Choultry in Old Agrahara to Vidyaranyapuram junction that connects Mysore-Nanjangud Road. It was also cultivated in neighbouring areas spread over some 500 acres. Mysore ‘Chigurele’ was preferred most as they have an unparalleled taste. Probably the unique climate and soil in this stretch gave the leaves a unique taste that earned it the name ‘Mysore Chigurele’. But, with ‘paan’ gradually dominating the market, chewing betel leaves is becoming a thing of the past, limiting it to religious ceremonies.

Wood inlay is the process of decorating the surface of wood by setting in pieces of material such as ivory, bone, plastic, or wood of different colours. This craft is concentrated in Mysuru where its roots can be traced back to a family by the name of Mirza Yousuf Ali who were pioneers in the field.

The artisan smoothens the base of the rose wood and the design is traced and etched into the surface. The several components of the inlay are painstakingly assembled to match and fit exactly into the grooves and are then glued in. The design is finished by obtaining the required shades with several coats of polish.

Examples of inlay work in Karnataka include the ivory inlay in rose wood and ebony in the Srirangapatnam mausoleum, the doors of the Amba Vilas palace in Mysuru are also fine examples of inlay. Products with inlay include plates, boxes, bowls, cigarette cases, and figures of animals, especially elephants, which continue to be popular. The designs include floral and geometric patterns, landscapes, pastoral scenes, processions, and scenes from the epics.

This unique Style of painting originated about AD 1525. During the regin of Maharaja King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799-1868) of Mysore. The style matured fully. It had its ups and downs and currently revived by artists of Mysore. The painting procedure comprises the basic ‘Gesso’ Work and the use of Traditional colours and thin real gold foil for embellishment. The most popular themes are the traditional deities of the Hindu pantheon and royal tradition. Mysore style painting is characterized by intricate use of colours and fine relief work to be preserved as prized possession for ever.

Ganjifa or Ganjeefa was a popular card game in ancient India. Played extensively in the Mughal period, Ganjifa is now known more for the art work on the cards than the game itself. Cards made for royalty were inlaid with precious stones and were also made of ivory, mother-of-pearl and wafers of lac. In Mysore, this game was known as “Chadd” (God’s play).One of the finest exponents of Ganjifa Art, Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhatta is a resident of Mysore and has set up an International Ganjifa Research Centre at Mysore. The cards are generally circular and sometimes rectangular in shape with lacquered backs with exquisite paintings on them.

Mysore Mallige (Botanical name: Jasminum grandiflorum L.) of the Oleaceae family is the most popular among the three varieties of Jasmine endemic to Karnataka; the other two varieties being the Hadagali Mallige (Jasminum auriculatum Vahl) and Udupi Mallige (Jasminum sambac (L.) Aiton). Famed worldwide for their fragrance, all the three flower varieties have been patented and registered under Intellectual Property Right.

Mysore Mallige derives its name since it is grown mostly around Mysore city and partly in Srirangapatna taluk in Mandya district in Karnataka state. The Jasmine’s association with the city of Mysore, the royal city of palaces, patronized by the Wodeyar of the Kingdom of Mysore, because its fragrance is as powerful as the famous Dasara festival held every year in the city during October. Mallige grows in profusion in the open areas either in exclusive farmland, in front or at the backyard of houses.

Mysore Mallige, mostly grown in and around Mysore city is a viable crop for small farmers. Farmers reap two crops of this seasonal flower. Apart from the local market, the flower is in demand in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.