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Mumbai Memoir 163- When sculptures come to life!

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Karmarkar Sculpture Museum, Sasavne, Alibag

Mumbai is going through a heat wave. Its getting difficult to move around in the day time as the ruthless Sun is not in a mood to spare anyone. In an already hectic life, topped up with the high temperatures, it is getting hard for the spirit to be productive. In such times, the mind then starts fantasizing of a quick getaway to detox from a holistic ‘burnout’ that I was experiencing. Last week I reached a threshold where I needed a break to unwind from the tightness of life. I wanted to go to a place which was near to Mumbai but also having a countryside feel with minimum crowding. So, on a weekday at 10am I instantly decided to put my car onto the RoRo ferry service & reached Mandwa in an hour.

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Viewing the sea through my binoculars

Once on the ferry I took out my binoculars and started viewing the 360-degree skyline of the sea around me. One side was the fading Mumbai, the other sides were mountains, merchant navy ships, mini-islands, motor boats commuting around and far away were the seagulls. Strangely that day the morning Sun too was not harsh. The sky was cloudy, and it was slightly drizzling, which was such a pleasant surprise. It seemed that even the Sun was taking a break like me that day!

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Witnessing Mr. V.P Karmarkar bust size sculpture & his work

Mandwa is a coastal village which is just 9 nautical miles away from Mumbai, which is mere 16 odd kilometers! But since there is no direct roadway to get to Mandwa, earlier one had to travel the long-distance route of 113 kms that use to consume 3 hours! But now because of the Roll on Roll off ferry service to Mandwa from Mumbai the time to reach Mandwa is just one hour! As I reflected on this fact, I realized that if there was a direct roadway, like a bridge from Gateway of India or Ferry Wharf then Mandwa would have been just 15 mins away from Mumbai!K3

When I got off at Mandwa jetty I was clear on my agenda for the day. I was looking forward for a silent walk on a non-crowded beach, visiting a Sculpture Museum in a heritage property at Sasavne village near Mandwa & having good food at a nice restaurant. Since I had my own car, commuting locally around Mandwa was not a hassle. Around 11am I reached Karmarkar Sculpture Museum at Sasavne village which is just 7-10 mins distance from Mandwa jetty. The museum is a heritage property which is the ancestral home of the Padmashri award recipient Sculptor Shri. V.P Karmarkar himself. Since it was a Thursday that day there were no visitors until I rang the bell of the main door. A lady who is the caretaker of the property invited me in. The entry fee is mere Rs.10 and an added Rs. 10 has to be given if you have a camera with you.

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Role-modeling the Leader- Seeking blessings from Goddess Bhavani like the Marathi king Shivaji Maharaj did.

As I climbed the stairs, I could sense that I was entering into a time machine that was about to take me in an era of Mr. Karmarkar’s lifetime (1891-1967). The sculptures that were displayed were literally speaking to me of not only the theme but also about the expertise of the artist himself!! The realistic style of Mr. Karmarkar made the sculptures look so real that at a point of time I felt all of the idols will get up and start talking to me!  Here’s a video link for glimpse of the Museum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUzjQTS_dM0

K5Mr. V. P. Karmarkar was born in 1891 at Sasavne village near Alibag (Raigad, India). His sculpting talent was noticed by Mr. Otto Rothfeild, the then British District Collector of the region. The Collector enrolled him to Sir J.J School of Art (Mumbai) for gaining technical expertise in the art of Sculpting. Thereafter Mr. Karmarkar also learnt at an art school in Kolkata after which he came to Mumbai and set up his sculpting studio at Tardeo. His realistic style idols, statues, and sculptures, particularly the full-size Shivaji Maharaj statue riding a horse at NDA, Pune premise, have been acknowledged world-wide.K6 As I read about Mr. Karmarkar’s art credits, it was a proud moment to know that an India artist was so well know in Europe for his magical abilities to put life in inanimate objects. After visiting the museum, I strolled the vicinity of the heritage building. The nature around calmed my nerves down like a mother rocking an infant in her arms! All the fatigue and abrasions that the heavy-duty urban life had inflicted on me vanished away by soaking all the art & nature around Karmarkar Museum. As if Mr. Karmarkar’s spirit continues putting life, irrespective of objects or people, whoever visits his ancestral home!

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Artistic roof & staircase of Karmarkar Sculpture Museum.

Photo Courtesy: Shraddha. C. Sankulkar