Welcome to the village of Mattur in Karnataka. For the past 40 years, this place has been a sanctuary for preserving Sanskrit language. The unique nature of the place has resulted in it being known to the world as one of the rarest places in the country. If one does not know Sanskrit language or without a translator, it is near impossible to tread in the place.
Mattur received the moniker of the first Sanskrit Village in the country in the year 1981. The origin of such a village is quite an interesting one. History pronounces that Vishwesha Theertha Seer of the Pejawar Matha formed this extraordinary village after seeing the enthusiasm of the people here to promote the language. He had visited the village to attend a 10-day workshop of Sanskrita Bharati and in the end converted the village to safeguard the language. His dream has been carried out diligently by the people here.
Other than Sanskrit, they also speak a rare dialect called Sankethi, which is a mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, and bits of Telugu. The Sankethi dialect has no written script and is read in the Devanagari script.
The villagers of Mattur lead a Vedic lifestyle and the ancient language finds full expression in this place. The people here comprise a community of ancient brahmins who migrated from Kerala about 600 years ago. The village is centred around a temple and a built in the shape of a square. There exist a traditional school in the centre from where the students learn Vedic scripts and to speak in the Sanskrit language from the tender age of 10. The students learn them meticulously in their five-year course, under the careful supervision of village elders. Being an agrarian village, the people here cultivate paddy crops and areca nuts. Even the walls of the buildings here are painted in the Vedic ancient scripts. The slogans painted on the walls are ancient quotes such as Maarge swachchataya virajate, grame sujanaha virajante (Cleanliness is as important for a road as good people are for the village). Some families also have the sign “You can speak Sanskrit in this house” proudly written on their doors.
Mattur is said to have produced over 30 Sanskrit professors who are teaching in Kuvempu, Bengaluru, Mysure, and Mangaluru universities. Mattur is also the home village of several illustrious personalities that include Mathoor Krishnamurthy of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bengaluru, violinist Venkataram, and gamaka exponent H. R. Keshavamurthy.
Image courtesy detechter.com and thebetterindia.com