The colours of Channapatna


I look forward to the Dastakar fairs at Nature Bazar, New Delhi as they are a treasure-trove of brilliance in arts and crafts from all over India. I have been a regular at Dastakar for many years now, and for me, it’s my ‘happy-place’. So much to see, so much to admire and shop! One such spectacular find for me has been the wonderful collection of toys and other unique home decor products from Channapatna.

Channapatna, a small town in Karnataka, about 80 kms from Bengaluru (off the Bengaluru-Mysooru highway) is known as the ‘toy town’ or ‘Gombegala Ooruin the local language. The legacy of toys from Channapatna goes back to over 200 years when Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore invited artisans from Persia to teach and train the local artisans in the craft of toy-making. This traditional craft is now protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization and is now administered by the state government. This craft form has seen some bad days with a plunge in demand for toys, but has now seen a sharp surge in requirements for novel, eco-friendly toys as well as niche home decor products. Designers like Atul Johri and Nishi Chauhan have used the Channapatna lacquer-ware very creatively to create masterpieces. Nishi Chauhan was awarded the ‘Red dot design award 2014’ for her creative lamps with bottles, mason jars along with colourful Channapatna elements.

An animal farm – lamps made using bottles and mason jars along with Channapatna elements by Nishi Chauhan via
The pig and the rhino…animal farm lamps via

Like most other artisans, the Channapatna craftsmen are also plagued by the agents and middle-men keeping hefty margins for themselves, leaving a much smaller share for the artisans. However, the overall environment is changing with the government providing marketing support to the artisans and NGOs, other small scale industries setting up base in the town thereby increasing employment and reducing the dependency on middle-men.

Hands that make beautiful Channapatna toys via
Labour of love…shaping beautiful toys and home decor products via

Without further ado, presenting the colourful, vibrant, eco-friendly toys from Channapatna

Bovow– colourful dog from Maya Organic via
Cuddly Farm animal toys that are eco-friendly too via
The colourful cows go mooo…via
The Moo riot…pull along cow toys via
Vibrant orange and yellow pull along toy by Varnam via
Giving the red shiny vespa a run for it’s money…Channapatna creativity via

A few prominent names that have taken the Channapatna toys to even greater heights and made them popular the world over are Maya Organic and Varnam, in addition to a host of other toy destinations online, like Channa toys and Kasitoo at Do have a look at their marvellous collection!

There are a host of other products being made at Channapatna, with it’s credit going to new-age designers who have re-interpreted the craft form keeping today’s requirements and utility in mind. A prominent name is Atul Johri who has designed a wonderful collection of lamps, tableware, tea lights, vases and more using the lacquer-ware of Channapatna. The team at Varnam has given a new dimension and a facelift to the home-decor range being made at Channapatna. Presenting some of their work that are on my ‘lust-list’!

Serveware and the The Kitchen
Vibrant redsSalt and pepper shakers designed by Atul Johri via
Beautiful Kitchen Storage ‘Barni’ ..the colours used are non-toxic natural pigments by Varnam via
A little red birdie holds me…kitchen roll holder by Varnam via
Wooden platters with the Kuruvi design by Varnam…via 
Cute little bottle stoppers via
Home decor and lights
Beautiful lamps by Atul Johri via
Varnam Chennapatna lamp in green
So green…so spring. Another masterpiece by Varnam via
The Purple Turtle store in Bangalore has a delightful collection of Channapatna lamps via
Tea lights and Channapatna hues via
Glass and laquerwood vase by Atul Johri via
Perfect for Haldi-kumkum and vibhuti by Varnam via
Wall hooks – piggies on a bus by Varnam…via

Designers have experimented with this craft form to make so many niche products, including christmas tree ornaments, babushka dolls and jewellery! If the colours of Channapatna have stolen your heart, get a lovely piece for your home! Make your pick from the stores we love – Varnam, Caravan Craft in Bangalore, The Purple Turtles in Bangalore, Channa Toys, Maya Organics and so many more! Happy Shopping!


XO, Nupur

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