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Barkur Old Students Plan Reunion of Past and Present

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(Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura)

My friend, well-wisher and associate for 65 years, B Seethrama Shetty, classmate in IV Form to SSLC(1954 -57) in National High School, (NHS) Barkur, Udupi Taluk, (then in S,Kanara Dist, Madras State and now in Udupi Dist, Karnataka) informs me that there is an Friendly Meet of the Old Students Association (OSA) of our alma mater at 9.00 a.m.on  April  13, 2019, the day after the Car Festival of the Pancha Lingeswara temple, Barkur.

We also propose to honour ten old teachers with Guruvandana.


Barkur is located on the northern bank, right bank of a 5km long perennial river Seetha. A  tiny town, about 20 k.ms from the dist headquarters Udupi,  Barkur was once the bustling capital city of the Alupas, Jain Dynastic Rulers.

They had their sway over Tulunadu extending from Bhatkal (Uttar Kannada in Karnatka) in the North to Kasargode (in Kerala) in the South, about a land mass of 200 KM for more than 1,200, years, from 2nd Century to 15th Century AD. The area is bounded by the W.Ghats on the eastern side and Arabian Sea on the West.

Earlier they were independent rulers. Later they became feudatorirs and vassals under the Kadambas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakuta and the Hoysalas.


Later the region came under the spell of the Vijayanagara Rulers. Under whom, according to historian Prof Neelakantha Sasthry, Barkur was an important port.

Persian and Portuguese travelers, like respectively Abdus Razaak and Ilango Pius, make references to the natural beauty and strategic and business importance of this Port.

There is Malik Deenar Jumma Masjid, said to have been built in the early days of the Islam, by the Arabian traders, who used to frequent the port.

What is surprising is that though the Jains ruled from here for centuries, now, not a single Jain family is found in the town.

Though the Mosque is more than a thousand years old, there are hardly fifty Muslim families. Another landmark of the twon is  St Peter Church of the Catholic faith. Its  a marvel that has been existing since 1860.

There are historical ruins all around. Uddalugudde, the place where our High School exists is said be the Battle field. Opposite the High School, there is a Dyke Fort, full of water for more than ten months in a year, in our boyhood. Dyke is completely filled with mud and water flows around the Fort only when there is rain. There are five big water tanks on the outskirts of the town and the water used to  flow by gravity through the underground channels. They used to feed the town and hundreds of acres of paddy fields for two crops. On account of silt, all water channels are closed and hardly water flows from the tanks.


It is said that, next to Penugonda in Ananthapur dist in A.P., in the Vijayanagara Empire, Barkur had the highest, 365 Hindu and Jain Temples, some of them nearly 2,000 years’ old.  Car Festival was celebrated every day. Today, most of them are in devastated condition.

During the past fifteen years, Archaeological Survey of India has under taken restoration of many monuments, including the Fort and the Temples. Kalikamba Temple of Visvakarmas is very famous and it attracts devotees of the faith from all over Karnataka. Ganapathi Temple and stone temple are equally famous.

Though surrounded by water on all three sides, in the days of yore, in our boyhood, Barkur was an important trade centre of Copper vessels, big and small.

Mostly the Christians, (converted migrants from Konkan -speaking Konkani- and Bearys, an ethnic Muslim sect, speaking a mixture of Tulu, Malayalee and Kannada Languages,) were engaged in business and repairs.

Barkur Shandy, on every Friday used to attract both the producers and the consumers from far and wide. Apart from Vegetables, coconuts, ropes, earthen pots from the potters of Alaya, about ten k.m.s east of Barkur were special attractions. Fresh Fish Market, every afternoon has been the bye-word of the lovers of the dish.

By 1946, hardly there were about forty High Schools in the whole District. Barkur Vidyabhivardhaka Sangha was registered in April 1946 under the Presidentship of Vidyamanya Teertha Swamiji of Bhadarkeri Mutt, Barkur. He offered two acres of land to erect tents to run the classes and free food and accommodation in the Mutt to all the Brahman students.

Madras government sanctioned the High School in June 1946, and the classes were started with Sri P.N. Bhoja Rao as the Head Master. Since meal was available free, students not only from S.Kanara, but from the neighboring Uttara Kannada and Malanad Districts of Shimoga and Chikkamagaluru also were products of our High School.

It was a widespread joke: “It rains outside and all the water flows inside the tents.” (వానంతా బయట; నీళ్ళంత టెంట్ల లోపల). The region experiences more than one hundred inches of rain in a Year. A joke was prevalent not only in the school, but in and around Barkur as long as Bhoja Rao was the Head Master till 1972: “How much it rained today?” ” Headmaster Bhoja Rao’s Coat was drenched and he declared holiday for the High School.”

We used to enjoy at least seven such special holidays in every rainy season. As said above I was a student there from 1954 to 57. By that time, the government of Madras had assigned about 20 acres of barren land, battle field (Ranaranga), known as Uddalugudde and proper buildings were constructed.

In 1968, the government of Mysore permitted to have one year PUC course in the school, and in 1972 it became a regular Junior College, offering two year-PUC (Intermediate)course. Now a degree college, and a Post graduate centre are also established there.

As per the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms, to establish a University at least 15 acres of land is required. We can have a “Deemed to be University here.”

That apart, every sports discipline had a separate playground for Football, Cricket, Track and Field, Kho Kho, Kabadi, Volleyball etc.

Our social studies teacher K. Rajeeva Shetty was not only a source of inspiration for our social consciousness, but also a great promoter of sportsman spirit. So, though I do not know how to hold a cricket bat, I am a theoretical sportsman and cricket enthusiast.

Under the guidance of our Physical Training Teacher, Mahabala Shetty and Craft teacher Madhyastha we planted mango and jack fruit saplings along with Casurina. Hence the institution possesses a good horticultural garden. The trees now are in the evening of their lives.

In passing: Fun, satire and sarcasm of our science teacher, B Ananhta Naik; mellifluous English of Rotch; mathematical wizard Picardo; ACC training by Subbanna Hegde; dharmik disposition of Sarvothama Pai; melodious music of N Sreenivasa Kalkura; artistic bent of mind of drawing teacher  Venkatadasa Adiga; unfathomable literary talent of the Kannada pandits Sarma and Krishna Bhat and the Sanskrit Teacher, Ramesh Adiga; Enthusiasm of BL Adiga to spread the knowledge of Hindi, our cherished memory as Scouts and guides under Puttanna Aithal have not only made our institution proud, but also shaped the character of the thousands of alumni.

Out teachers took pride in the achievements of their products in diverse fields. One sample of unanimous voice: “H.B.Narayana Shetty, IAS.,(Retd.) Ex. Chief Secretary, of Tamil Nadu govt was our student. Your brother Mahabaleswara Kalkura, a progressive Agriculturist was my student. He offers sweet tender coconut. Rama, Pan Beeda shopwala in front of our High School, prepares the best pan I have tasted in our life. He was my student.” Not to forget our devoted office staff, Ananda Shetty and Nagesh Rao and helpers Seena and Koraga were invaluable assets of our Alma Mater.

Our headmaster Bhoja Rao received a National Award in 1966 for writing an article on TEACHING OF ENGLISH IN INDIAN SCHOOLS, from the then union minister for Education, M.C.Chagla. A byline fact: almost all our teachers were trained in Teachers’ Training College, Saidapet, Madras. Whenever I visit Madras (present Chennai), I make it a point to pass through Saidapet and have a glimpse at the Temples of Learning, started in 1853, where our GURUS were ‘Educated.’

n 1883, the second one in the Composite Madras State was established in Rajamahendravaram. Till 1957, the School was affiliated to the Board of Secondary Education, Govt of Madras and after re-organisation of the States in 1956, the supervision was transferred to the Mysore government. Ours, 1957 was the last batch under the Madras Scheme.

History of the Barkur Road Bridge across the River Seetha is intimately associated with the N.H.S. A firebrand Legislator Kolkebail Sanjeeva Shetty.  S.S.Kolkebail was requested by the school management to invite the Chief Minister of Mysore, S.Nijalingappa to inaugurate the newly built Community Hall. Kokebail persuaded  the CM despite all hurdles created by the district administration.

Having failed in its attempt, the Dist Administration planned a circuitous road route. Instead, Kolkebail insisted on ferrying the C.M. by a country boat. He wanted to seize the opportunity to put forth his long pending demand for the construction of a Bridge to connect Barkur and Brahmavar and further to Udupi and Mangalore.

“CM must know how much hundreds of people suffer every day” he coolly said, in colloquial Kannada and got the C.M’s nod. While crossing the river Nijalingappa got frightened and he was shaking, even while addressing the meeting. After consulting ‘State Administration, ‘through the hot line’, at the function he announced the sanctioning of the Bridge. That was the perseverance of the People’s Representatives of those days and the Leaders response to the needs of the people.

But for the munificence of the Swamiji, discipline of Bhoja Rao and the dynamic leadership of the local social activists like Dr.A.S.N.Hebbar, Dr.Krishna Bairi and Sri Yajnanarayana Rao, Panchayat President for a long time and the devoted and sincere efforts of teaching and non-teaching staff, our High School would not have been what it is today!

Keeping in tune with the Royal traditions, the Panchalingeswara Temple, at the Festival Durbar offers Prasadamm; a piece of dry coconut and a morsel of boiled Bengal Gram, to the designated dignitaries and Professions, numbering about 100.

Kalkura clan and Kuradi are among the privileged. Yes, I am proceeding to Barkur to attend the OSA, NHS, meeting. If possible, attend the Car Festival on 12th April, evening, and request my clan members and village-mates to permit me to receive the traditional Prasadam at the Durbar.

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