About Us

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture (formerly known as Vanamala Art Foundation) is a unique organization whose aim is to propagate all forms of Indian Art and Culture. Tucked away in the southern end of Bangalore, Vanamala Center for Art and Culture offers various services such as classes in Karnatak music and yoga along with seminars on forms of art such as Theater, Dance, Visual arts, Temple architecture, philosophy amongst others. It also houses a library which can be utilized by students and enthusiasts of Indian art. Apart from the literary aspects, it has also produced documentaries, published books and audio cds under its banner. The Center aims to raise awareness across all forms of Indian art and has partnered with various personalities and organizations to achieve the same.

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, founded by Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh traces its origin back to 1995. It initially started as a school for young aspirants to learn Karnatak Music. The school also provided a platform for the aspirants to showcase their singing talent by organizing annual events such as Composers’ Day, Aradhanas and musical events for Indian festivals. The school achieved recognition on a national level when it trained 20 students between the ages of 6 and 12 to participate in the All India Radio Choral Music Competition (1997). The students stood first in the District and State Levels and entered the National level earning a distinguished position in the competition. The students of the school have also participated in All India Radio programs such as Ruthu Vinyasa (a musical explaining the different seasons as per the India Calendar), Kannada Naadu Cheluvina Bidu (the picturesque places of Karnataka) and others.

Over the years, the School evolved into an organization that started promoting other forms of Indian art and culture. The foundation organized several workshops on various art forms at its premises in Bangalore. Some of these workshops include the Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis of Sri. Muthuswamy Dikshithar and Suladi of Haridasas by Prof. T. Sharada; Rare Jathi Swaras and Swara Jathis by Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh and forms of theatre by Sri. Venkatesh. In addition to art-specific workshops, the organization has also conducted events for general public such as ‘Rasa Ranjane – evening of dance, drama, and music’; many events at Indian Institute of World Culture like ‘Swara Maadhuri’, ‘Sri Chakra darshana’, Book and CD releases, Centenary celebrations of the treatise Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini; ‘Hari Kesha’- 125th birthday remembrance of the great musician-composer Harikeshanallur Dr. L.Muthaih Bhagavatar at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and National Seminar on Katha Keertan

The 10th Anniversary of the organization was celebrated by a unique musical – Bhaktiyaana which comprised compositions on Lord Narayana beginning with Suprabhata continuing with various events and concluding with a lullaby to the Almighty. The musical was later produced into an audio CD which was released in 2010. It has also produced the documentary, ‘Sri Chakra Darshana’ which describes the specifics of Sri Chakra worship, Sri Vidya and the compositions of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar.

In 2013, the organization was rechristened to Vanamala Center for Art and Culture in order to encompass new goals such as undertaking research projects and supporting research students who are pursuing active research in musicology, dance, theatre, temple architecture and other art forms. The Center also houses a library with over 2000 books on Music, Musicology, Philosophy, allied Arts; Archives comprising Manuscripts of rare unpublished compositions, photographs connected to Musicians, Ancient Temples, Sculptures; recordings of yesteryear musicians, interviews of great scholars. The organization is led by Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh and a group of trustees who represents diverse fields and bring their expertise to drive the organization.

The latest offering of Vanamala Center For Art & Culture includes Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana which touches upon various facets of Indian art and culture.

The Team

About the Team

Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh

Dr. Meera started learning the Veena at the age of 7 from Vidwan L. Sheshagiri Rao and then pursued Karnatak Vocal music under the tutelage of Vidushi Sudha V. Murthy and Vidushi Rohini Manjunath. She received her Postgraduate degree in Karnatak Music from Bangalore University and was awarded the Gold Medal in 1995. Meera has completed her M.Phil and Ph.D. from the same university with her M.Phil topic being The Splendour of Dr. L. Muthiah Bhagavathar under the guidance of Vidwan Belakawadi Srinivasa Iyengar and Prof. Rajalakshmi Tirunarayanan and her Doctoral research was on Musical Composers during the Wodeyar Dynasty (1638-1947 AD) under the guidance of Sri. B V K Shastry and Dr. B M Jayashree. She was also the recipient of the Junior Research Fellowship for the HRD, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, and completed her project under the guidance of Dr. R Satyanarayana.

She is well versed with the Performing Arts facet of Music and performs in concerts and also has a keen interest in the academic/research side of Music and has delivered several lecture-demonstrations and has multiple publications under her name. Presently, she takes classes for Karnatak Vocal at Vanamala Center for Art and Culture and also teaches Musicology for postgraduate students in the Department of Performing Arts at Jain University as an Adjunct Professor. Meera is also a UGC approved Guide for MPhil and PhD students and guided 15 MPhil and 4 PhD scholars. Presently she has 1 MPhil and 7 PhD scholars pursuing their research in music under her.

She has been instrumental in writing the script and directing Bhaktiyaana and Sri Chakra Darshana. Dr. Meera has also published a book viz. The Musical Composers during Wodeyar Dynasty which is an extension of Doctoral Thesis.

In addition, Meera holds the following offices

  • Member – Experts Committee, Programs in Performing and Visual Arts, IGNOU, New Delhi
  • Member – Board of Examiners, Bangalore, Jain and Mysore Universities
  • Member – Malavalli Narayanaswamy Trust, Mysore University
  • Special invitee -Text book committee, Proficiency grade, DSERT, Govt. of Karnataka
  • Chartered Member – Rotary Club, Knowledge City
  • Former General Secretary– Karnataka Ganakala Parishath
  • Former Member -Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy, Govt. of Karnataka
  • Former Editor – Nada Nritya a Quarterly published by Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy
  • Former Editor -Ganakalasiri, Monthly journal, Karnataka Ganakala Parishat ®
  • Member, Selection committee for Chowdiah National Award, Dept. of Kannada and Culture, Govt. of Karnataka
  • Editor in Chief, Research journal with 51 articles on various art forms authored by research scholars all over India, brought out by Vanamala Center for Art and Culture
  • Honorary Chairperson – Department of Music, Sri Chidambara Institute for Research and Development, Chidambarashrama, Gubbi, Karnataka

  Some of her Publications include the following

  • Biographies for Kala Chetana a comprehensive book on yester year Musicians published by Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy, Government of Karnataka
  • As the editor of Karnataka Sangeeta Kalavidaru – 2 Volumes published by Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy
  • Many chapters in musicology for Proficiency grade text book in Karnatak Music; Govt. of Karnataka
  • contribution of Women Musicians for the encyclopedia under publication by Hampi University
  • Belligere– Achievements of Smt.Komala Varadan & Dr.Rajashekar Mansur during their tenure as Chairman, Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy
  • Articles that have been published in esteemed musical journals like Sruti, Ananya Abhivyakti, Ganakalasiri, Sangeeta Sudha, Brahma Gana Sabha, International Conference 2011- Rhythm and Melodies in World Music and 7th Music and Dance Festival and many more
  • Biography of Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar for Bharata Bharati Series, Rashtrotthana Parishath
  •  

Some of her popular lecture demonstrations with Audio Video presentations for the connoisseurs include the following

  • Sri Chakra Darshana
  • Programs on Harikeshanallur Dr L Muthiah Bhagavathar
  • Wodeyars and their Patronage to Art and Culture
  • Individual Composers during Wodeyar Dynasty
  • Evolution of Indian Music
  • Contributions of Vachanakaras and Haridasas towards social reformation
  • Philosophy and Music others 

She has given the lecture demonstrations at the following forums – Department of Kannada and Culture, International Music and Arts Society, Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy, Doordarshan, AIR FM Rainbow, JSS Sangita Sabha, Mysore Maharajas College, Mysore University, Bangalore International Festival by Mantram Art Foundation, Karnataka Ganakala Parishat and others

  • Honored by Rani Vijaya Devi sister of His Highness Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar in International Music and Arts Society
  • Honored by His Highness Shivaji Rajah T. Bhosle, Prince of Tanjavur in Mysore during Veena Shamanna’s Centenary celebrations
  • Honored with the award Shastra Koustubha by Ananya GML Cultural Academy, Bangalore

Vidhushi H. K.Kamala

Vidhushi H.K.Kamala holds a Bachelor’s degree in Karnatak Music from Maharani’s College, Bangalore where she studied under Professor G. Chennamma. Her marriage to prof. R. Balaji Rao and eventual settlement in Varanasi, gave her an opportunity to pursue her interest in music under the mentorship of Vidwan Professor Srirangam R Kannan, Professor, Banaras Hindu University. She is a performing artist and has given several stage acts at Banaras, Delhi (All India Radio), Vishakhapatnam, Chennai and Bangalore. In Banaras, she established ‘Gana Lahari’ – a school of Karnatak music where she trained several students. She has also released an audio CD titled – Sarvam Brahma mayam which includes Devaranamas and Bhajans of different composers. She relocated to Bangalore with her husband Dr. R. Balaji Rao where she presently teaches music to several students.

Mrs. Sandhya Ram

Mrs. Sandhya is an artist across multiple fields; she is a Karnatak Musician and has been learning music since childhood. She has performed alongside Dr. Meera and other singers and has been one of the main singers for Sri Chakra Darshana as well Bhaktiyaana. Mrs. Sandhya has sung some portions of Soundarya lahari tuned in  classical ragas which was telecasted in Suvarna TV Channel.   Apart from music, she is also an expert in floral decorations, crafts, and caning.

Dr. Ananth Pranesh

Dr. Pranesh is doctor by profession who served as a medical officer at National Aerospace Laboratories for over 20 years and now continuing own practice in Bangalore. His interests include nature photography and have contributed several articles and given many slide shows in this regard. He has also contributed towards the screenplay and script for Sri Chakra Darshana.

Sindhoora S

Sindhoora is a yoga instructor who specializes in Yoga Therapy and holds a Master’s Degree in Yogic Sciences from Bangalore University and is a Gold Medallist. She also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA) and has also completed a Yoga Instructor Course from the same institution.

She has participated in various therapy camps conducted by SVYASA for various psychosomatic ailments including Diabetes, Hypertension, Muscular and Bone related ailments. She has taken therapy classes in these respective classes and has also taken general yoga classes for students and software professionals. She completed an in depth study on Yoga and Intermediate Memory in High School Children during her study in Bangalore University.  In addition to Yoga Therapy classes she was also a Guest Lecturer at the Yoga Center in Bangalore University.

Apart from her PhD research, Sindhoora is currently a freelance Yoga Therapist and takes therapy classes   for Menopause, Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Yoga Therapy, back-pain, neck pain, Sciatica, knee pain, Migraine Asthma, Hypertension among others. She also takes private classes for psychological disorders such as GAD, Clinical Depression and OCD.

She was a Yoga Consultant at Fortis Hospitals and has provided consultation and therapy for patients with cardiac problems, stress disorders, Clinical Depression, Post-Natal Depression, Paralysis, back pain and others

She also takes therapy classes for various ailments at Vanamala Center for Art and Culture along with general Yoga classes.

Dr. Sandeep B R

Dr. Sandeep is a second generation dental surgeon who practices in Jayanagar, Bangalore. He received his degree in Dental Surgery from Oxford Dentist College in 2003. Apart from dental surgery, he also has interests in the real estate space and is engaged in construction of residential apartments. He is an ardent runner and also plays tennis.

Mr. Gnanesh Shivanna

Mr. Gnanesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Electronics and Communications) and is presently a Software Development Manager at Wildfire Networks. Apart from software development, Mr. Gnanesh has a keen interest in Theatre and was trained under National Award Winning director – Prema Karanth. He has been a part of the drama team that has won several competitions at the University level and has gone on to represent the University at Zonal level competitions. He was also a part of the ‘mad ads’ team which was adjourned the ‘Best in Bangalore’ for two consecutive years. He entered professional theatre by directing and acting in the English play Death of a Salesman which was also performed at Ranga Shankara, Bangalore. Gnanesh has lent his voice as a narrator for Sri Chakra Darshana.

Mr. Sanjay Pranesh

Mr. Sanjay holds a Master’s degree in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University, International Business School, Boston. He is presently a financial analyst working with an Equity Research firm. Apart from being a financial analyst, Mr. Sanjay is a traveller and wildlife photographer with a keen interest to Music and Theatre.

Dr. M V Archana Bhat

Dr. M V Archana Bhat is a Karnatak and Light music vocalist as well as a Gamaka Artist. Being a qualified musician in Proficiency grade from Karnataka Secondary Education Board, Dr. Bhat has learnt the art under the tutelage of scholars such as Vid. Sudha Sridhar, Vid. Shantha Bai, Vid. Madhur Balasubramanyam, Vid. Anoor Ramakrishna, Vid. D. Shashikala, Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh and Late Mysore Anantha Swamy in Light Music. She has received her Doctorate from Bangalore University for her research on Karnataka Sangeetada Rachanegalalli Sri Vidyeya Ullekha (References of Sri Vidya in Karnatak music Compositions) under the guidance of Dr. B M Jayashree. Dr. Bhat is also a Graded Artist of All India Radio, Bangalore and has sung for plays directed by Rajendra Karanth and Geeta Bali. She has given several performances and concerts in Karnatak and Light music as well as Gamaka at IGNOU, Prathama Gamaka Sammelana, Kannada Kavya Pata Sarani, IGNOU, Kumarvyasa Bharata and Doordarshan. In addition, she is a writer who has penned many articles on Music and Gamaka. She has previously served as Convenor, Youth wing Karnataka Gana Kala Parishath and continues to serve as Secretary at Raaga Sannidhi. She has been the former Editor of Gana Kalasiri and has contributed for the book Karnatak Music Artists published by Karnataka Sangeeta Nrithya Academy. She has also been honored with the Aryabhata Award for Light Music.

Mr. Satya Prasad

He served as a Section Officer at National Aerospace Laboratories. He chose Kannada theatre as a hobby and being an amateur dramatist, he has performed in more than 100 stage plays. Prasad has acted in more than 40 dramas of All India Radio, Bangalore. Directed many plays of which Home rule of T P Kailasam earned him Best actor and Best Director awards at State level Drama competitions.

Prasad has also written and directed many plays. Some of them being- Madonmatta gaanadatta on de- addiction; Yena bedali ninna balige bandu– a musical play; Nanji Putnanji– a comparison of T P Kailasam and G.P Rajaratnam; Abhinava Vaagdevi Kanti; Govina Kathe in association with Prabhat kalavidaru and many more.

Satya Prasad is the chief of Helping Hands an NGO, which is incessantly working for Orphanages and Physically Challenged Children.

Guru P Rajaram

Guru Rajaram holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Southern Illinois University and is a senior Information Technology professional based in Cary, North Carolina. Guru has interests in studying the rich social values of Vedic heritage. He is actively involved in the Triangle School of Vedic Vision, a not for profit organization in Cary, NC that mentors children and youth in the teachings of Vedic heritage. Besides, he also participates in the North Carolina chapter of AIM for Seva, a non-profit organization that builds and runs Chatralayas (free student homes) in rural and tribal locations in India.

The Research Team

Dr. M.A.Madhuvanthi

She is a Karnatak classical vocalist and a disciple of Ganakala Kasturi Vidushi Rupa Sridhar. She was the state second rank holder in the Senior examination conducted by KSEEB, completed Vidwat exam in 2005 and is a graded artist of All India Radio. She is a recipient of UGC’s Junior Research Fellowship and obtained Doctorate in Music from JAIN Deemed-to-be University under the guidance of Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh in 2019. She has established her own music school called “Chittaranjani Centre for Music” where students at all levels of learning are trained in Karnatak vocal music. Apart from performing concerts and teaching, she continues to be involved in research projects with her Guide.

Shivashankari Karthikeyan

Full time Carnatic Musician. Giving concerts along with her elder sister Charumathy Nagarajan titled as Bangalore Rajarajeshwari Sisters.
Training number of students through “Mathura Gana Vidya Mandir” – a music school run by them. Sri Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa Aradhana Mahotsav – Annual Music Festival is being organized and conducted every year for the past 13 years.
B Graded artist (Classical Devotional) in All India Radio, Bengaluru
Completed Mphil and currently pursuing PhD under the guidance of Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh at Jain University.
Working as Program Executive for RAAGAM channel in All India Radio, Bengaluru

Ananya Bhagath 

She is a researcher and a musician and has made her mark in classical, light, film as well as devotional genres of music. She has completed MA(music), Mphil in Jain University, Bangalore. Currently pursuing a doctorate in music under the guidance of Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh. She is a disciple of Ganakalashree M.S.Sheela and Padmashri R.N.Tyagarajan .She is also a Playback singer in the South Indian Film industry. 

Ragini Sanath

Karnatak classical vocalist. Research scholar, pursuing research studies under Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh. Completed Mphil in Music from Jain University (deemed to be), Bengaluru. A qualified Electronics and Communication engineer, previously associated as a software engineer with Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Mediassist LTD.

Apoorva

Apoorva has been learning music since the age of 4. She is a disciple of Ganakalabhushana Vidwan R K Padmanabha. She is a gold medalist in MA-Music at Jain University. She has also completed MPhil in Music from Jain university and holds a Masters in Psychology. She has performed at various venues in Karnataka. She does research in her free time. She has also established a music institute.

Karthik Ganesh

Karthik has been learning music since the age of 4. He is a gold medalist in MA-Music at Jain University. He is currently working at Jain University as a Junior Research Fellow (UGC) and pursuing his Ph.D. He has performed in various venues in Chennai and Bangalore

Nagashree Narayan

Nagashree started learning music when she was 6 from Vid Mala Venkatesh. She is the disciple of Karnataka Kalashree Vidwan Tirumale Srinivas. She is a proud Telecommunication Engineer, previously working for IBM India Pvt Ltd. Completed her Masters in Music from Jain University, currently pursuing M.Phil under the guidance of Dr.Meera Rajaram Pranesh. She has performed in various venues all over Karnataka.

Pavani Kashinath

Pavani has been learning music since the age of 5. She is a gold medalist in MA-Music at Jain University. She is an A grade artist of All India Radio in two categories namely Devotional and Light music. She is one of the youngest artists to perform at the prestigious Akashavani Sangeetha Sammelan. She is one of the youngest artists to present a Lecture Demonstration on Avadhana Pallavi at the prestigious Karnataka Ganakala Parishath. She holds a degree in Medical Electronics Engineering.