Udupi struggling to script Srithale revival story on palm leaves

Udupi has undertaken efforts to save the last bastion of the ancient art of Srithale leaf engraving from extinction by saving the Srithale tree. Illustration: Manikandan R

The temple town of Udupi -- known to be the global headquarters of Dvaita philosophy, a dualistic interpretation of the Vedas that theorises the existence of two separate realities --abounds in stone edicts dotting temples and old structures of archaeological value. The stones have fallen into ruin and the inscribed edicts are in a shambles facing the threat of being lost forever. The option of digitisation exists and also doesn’t. For, it lacks the charm of the classical form.

To preserve both the edicts and the old-world charm, some decided to go back to the centuries-old way of preserving and passing on the knowledge by putting it all on Srithale leaves. The only problem – Srithale trees too face extinction.

To tide over the problem, Udupi has undertaken efforts to save the last bastion of the ancient art of Thaale Gari (Srithale leaf) engraving from extinction.

Experts in the area turned their focus on the conservation of the Srithale tree about 15 years back in 2006-2007. Headed by the director of the Udupi-based Prachya Sanchaya (Oriental Archives) Research Centre, prof SA Krishnaiah, a team of researchers, including botanists, engravers, conservationists and activists, undertook an exercise to save ‘Srithale’ (Corypha umbraculifera), commonly known as the talipot palm.

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