Pottery town, a settlement in the middle of Bengaluru city since 1900s, is on it’s last legs to survive as more than 40 families out of 100 that resided there have moved away.
Pottery town an establishment of potters and a paradise for lovers of pottery was established in 1926. With forty families of potters who had travelled from Tamil Nadu and Andhra and a few from Orissa after the first railway line connecting Bengaluru had been constructed. Through the years, the potters increased upto around 100 families of potters. But in the past five years the number have come down to almost 60 families.
Pottery town famous for its clay pots and special handcrafted pieces of pottery is somehow on it’s last legs to survive. The potters of the town take pride in carrying on ages old legacy of their forefathers who had also been potters. The construction of metro line has made many potters to give up their land and move out. But there remain some potters who were not ready to give up their place. Chandrashekhar being one of them said, “This is a land since British Raj that was given to my forefathers, I have no where else to go, so I was not ready to give up, but half part of my shop was taken away, it was the godown area, I was not provided with any compensation for it.” Chandrashekhar believes pottery is not a one man’s work and it requires many skilled workers for a fine production of pottery. His wife helps him all day and specialises in making handcrafted show pieces of pottery while he makes clay and biryani pots.
Kumar, a potter who has been practising pottery works with his other two brothers. Whole family is in the pottery business and claim they have been working since they were around 5 years old. Kumar’s brother Rajakumar, who has done his masters in pottery works all day making clay pots and other pottery items. His wife Rajalakshmi helps him. Her most of the time goes in household chores but she tries to give at least 4-5 hrs helping her husband. Rajakumar said, “It was not possible for us to leave this place because all our lives we have been taught this and I love pottery I can’t do any other job”. Not just the construction of metro line caused a problem but the times of covid was one of the biggest challenges faced by them. “Everything was shut. I have been an addict to working, it was really difficult to sit home and not able to make pots. I have two daughters and I live in a joint family, we almost had no source of income them. Even then no aid was provided by the government to us, we were left on our own” added Rajakumar.
The potters said, their biggest customers are restaurants and hotels that order for clay and biryani pots. For years they have trusted them and been their clients and now sadly that happens to be their only source of income. Potters get nostalgic thinking about the time pre covid when pottery town was filled with customers and pottery lovers who used to enjoy their evenings by trying to learn pottery. Post covid such scenes are hard to witness. Customers say, one of the reason they don’t want to visit pottery town is the easy availability of pots these days online. They don’t need to visit while ordering pots is just a click away. But if compared, what is bought online for 300 Rs. is just available for 50 Rs in pottery town, that is the charm of this town.
The potters suffering with hardships, are not ready to give up pottery. Rajakumar said, ” I believe pottery has a lot of scope in India if it is funded and supported by government. I want to study further in pottery and learn the foreign methods of pottery and bring it in India.” He seems hopeful and believes in his skills. Even though Pottery town may have lost its charm, it has not yet lost it’s determined and hardworking potters.