Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park
Cubbon Park is often described as one of Bangalore’s green lungs but it might be just as appropriate to call it the heart of Bangalore. If one gate looks to Bangalore’s colonial past, another opens to the seat of power at Vidhana Soudha, and yet another leads to the city’s old pete areas. Amidst all this greenery is Jawahar Bal Bhavan, the children’s park, located near the MG Road end of the park.
Bal Bhavan was opened in the year 1967, nearly a hundred years after Cubbon Park itself was opened. It now spreads over more than 11 acres. No map is needed to locate Bal Bhavan. On most days, all you have to do is follow the scent of popcorn or look for the balloon-sellers. The iconic toy train, Puttani Express, ferries both the young and the young at heart around the periphery of Bal Bhavan, past the playgrounds and the water bodies, the theatre, and the many garden areas available for birthday parties and events.
Many events of Neralu 2014 were held in one such area of Bal Bhavan, just past the playground and the canteen. With wide open spaces, thatched pavilions and an amphitheatre bordered by trees, it proved to be the perfect setting for the festival.
Under the spreading leaves of the Indian almond tree, volunteers from the Srishti School of Art helped visitors create beautiful installations with autumnal leaves, twigs and seeds.
One of the pavilions had a seed display area that attracted many curious eyes. The other pavilions had storytelling sessions, video shows, and talks on trees and the environment. The wide open spaces encouraged people to drift from one event to the other, gaze at the beautiful photographs on display, or simply sit and soak in the happy atmosphere.
Art tables were set up for children to create little postcards. There were smiles all around as the children enthusiastically hung up their cards, many with environmental messages that could teach adults a thing or two.
The amphitheatre was host to performances by troupes like Dreamscope Theatre, Soliga Pusumaale Kalasangha (from BR Hills) and Bhoomi Thayi Balaga. Veena Basavarajaiah’s Moved by Trees workshop taught participants to explore all their senses and see their bodies in relationship to the trees around them.
Neralu at Bal Bhavan made the festival easy to access. There were serious visitors who had planned what they wanted to see and do, and there were also casual visitors to the park who were drawn in by the event. As the toy train hooted and circled the venue periodically, it seemed like there was a strong connection between the festival, the city, and its people. Bal Bhavan will again be one of the venues for Neralu 2015. We hope it will capture the imagination of the people, and remind them to gaze up more often at the trees that line our avenues and grace our gardens.
Some activities that have been planned for Bal Bhavan are —
- Art Movement Workshop
- Photography Exhibition
- Street Play by the Kaleido Group
- Performances by MD Pallavi and The Kabir Project
- Art Installations
- Children’s Activity Center