Musical instruments have been a part of our heritage for a long time and India is known for its finest and rare traditions of music and the exclusive craft of making musical instruments. Veena is a highly popular musical instrument used in various themes and classical tunes. Bobbili Veena enjoys the status of a royal instrument. It was patronized by the kings of Bobbili, considered connoisseurs of music who had also fostered the creation of the famous Bobbili Veena. Made from pure jackfruit wood, a full-sized Bobbili Veena, also known as ‘Saraswati Veena’ is distinguished from the ones made in Thanjavur, Mysore and other places in India.
Musical instruments are created at Gollapalli and Bobbili of Vizianagaram district and Nuzivid in Krishna district. Exquisitely designed Veenas and Tamburas are carved from a single piece of jack wood. The artisans over the years have diversified the craft to make miniature Veena’s as decorative art pieces.
The frets of Bobbili Veena’s are made of bell metal with the lion’s head carved at one end. Bobbili Veenas are known as ‘ekanda veena’ as they are made from one single piece of wood. According to Sarvasidhi Achutanarayana, the descendent of Achanna who first created the Bobbili Veena, they are gifted as mementos and memorabilia these days to save the dying art. Nearly 40 families of the Sarvasidhi family in Gollapalli village near Bobbili are believed to be the sole manufacturers of this instrument in addition to a dozen families of the same clan who have set up shops across the country. They have also obtained GI status for the instrument in March 2012 and have thus protected it from extinction.
The Veena makers have formed a cooperative society called Sharada Veena Society in 1959 and following the intervention of the state government, they had started working at the Craft Development Centre (CDC) based in Gollapalli village. The CDC manufactures 200 to 300 miniatures a month while it takes 20 days for a craftsman to make a professional Veena. Bobbili Veena has given rise to Bobbili Veena sampradayam, whose exponents have earned acclaim from Indian and International audiences. Bobbili Veena is a heritage pride of Andhra Pradesh and occupies an esteemed place among several age-old Indian musical instrument forms