About Us:

The onset of every Ramanavami in Bangalore brings an eternal divine bliss of Musical feast that is served with an essence of raga, the spirit of tala and the emotion of Bhava. For the past 78 years, we have dedicated ourselves to the growth of the rich cultural heritage of our country by conducting Sree Ramanavami National Music Festivals with a rich and colourful fare of cultural programmes in which artistes from all parts of the world participate.

For the religiously devout and to the discerning Music lovers of Bangalore and nearby places, the advent of spring indicates the arrival of yet another exhaustive feast of music. They eagerly look forward to the Ramanavami season during the months of March-April which provide a rich fare of Classical Music. Similar to the year-end festival season of Chennai, the Ramanavami Celebrations organised by Sree Ramaseva Mandali, Chamarajpet, has captivated the attention of both Musicians and
Music lovers alike.

A survey of the cultural scene a few decades prior to independence - particularly old Mysore region, brings to fore several festivals which were celebrated on a large scale. However, those with greater community participation were mainly two : Ramanavami and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Sree Ramaseva Mandali of Chamarajpet, had its humble begininng in such a cultural background. The Mandali is now an important Cultural Institution in the country. From its origin on a roadside pavement, today it has gained wide recognition and admiration from Artistes, Scholars and Music lovers, across the country and is the organiser of the Largest Indian Classical Music Festival.

The Mandali has completed one full “SAMVATSARA CHAKRA” and is now in its 80th year. At this juncture it will be an interesting exercise to trace and document the progress made by this great Institution.

The Mandali has a rare privilege of having 3 Presidents of India & 4 Vice Presidents inaugurating our Sree Ramanavami National Music Festivals. All the Governors & Chief Ministers of Karnataka state have inaugurated our celebrations. Sri.C.Rajagopalachari referred the Mandali as “Temple of Music”. His Highness Sri Jaya Chamarajendra Wodeyar of Mysore referred Mandali as 'Gnana Gana Sudha'. It is with great pride we say that, Mandali has hosted who's who of Indian Classical Music.

Sree Ramaseva Mandali, the Temple of Music was born out of Shivarapatna Vasudev Rao Narayanaswamy Rao (SVN Rao), Shri Rao's profound passion for Indian classical music which itself stemmed from his devotion towards Rama, his favorite deity.

Shri Rao, who pioneered the Ramanavami Music Festival in Bangalore at the tender age of 14 years, was born on 21 December 1924. Being the son of a police officer, he often participated in the freedom movements even as a teenager. The events shaped his thinking and he began to perceive festival congregations as a platform to promote multifaceted aspects of living. In 1937, a young and ardent patriot who participated in a freedom movement protest at Bengaluru's City Market, was critically wounded when police opened fire. As he fell to the ground and lay bleeding profusely, he surrendered to Rama and loudly called out 'Hare Rama'. Rao who witnessed this scene, was visibly moved and felt helpless at what he saw.

If the incident had caused him intense distress, it also opened his eyes to life's harsh realities. Being spiritual minded even at that tender age, he made a firm resolution to harmonize people. Further, he took a vow before Rama that he would accomplish this task culturally, through music which in the Indian context is inextricably linked to Bhakti. It was his firm belief that music resonates within the human spirit and is therefore a powerful tool to bring people together, transcending communities, cultures, and creeds.


Shri Rao who hailed from a traditional Madhwa Deshasta family, was an ardent devotee of Rama who surrendered at his Lotus Feet. As a young teen, he was inspired by Bal Gangadhar Tilak's conduct of Ganesha Festival in Maharashtra. Rao, along with his friends, began to organize Holi and Ganesha festival in his locality. While the youngsters had fun doing this, the underlying religious fervor and devotion to music, were palpable. When the celebrations concluded, the young organizers were left with surplus funds. As if by providential design, Rao came up with the idea of conducting Ramanavami celebrations the following year.

Thus Shri Rao established Ramanavami festivities in 1939, which since, became an annual event. He sought to foster harmony among people through bhakti and culture, of which music formed an integral part. He ignored the wrath of the British imperialists to successfully conduct Ramanavami celebrations for ten years during their rule.

To begin with, worship, prayers and all activities associated with the Ramanavami festivities, took place before a painting of Rama, standing in all majesty with his consort Sita, brother Lakshmana and his most devout bhakta, Anjaneya. With time, the celebrations grew in magnitude and stature.

A special wooden mantap was crafted in which the painting of Rama and his family was installed. Soon, the painting and mantap gave way to a silver portrait and silver mantap. In due course, by divine urge, Shri Rao had Panchaloha murthis of the deities sculpted from his native Shivarapatna. Amid much fanfare, the idols were consecrated in a new 10 ft tall brass mantap during the 25th Ramanavami celebrations, in 1964. The brass mantap at the Mandali is a magnified replica of a silver mantap with the Maharaja's of Mysore. Sri Vidya Manya Theertharu of Palimar Mutt whom Shri Rao held in great veneration, and who would regularly give discourses on the Ramayana at the Mandali, blessed Shri Rao on the occasion by performing puja for the idols and fulfilling all the requirements of Prana Prathistapana.

So deep-rooted was Shri Rao love for, and adoration of Rama, that in sleep and wakefulness, he only envisioned the Lord and how best he could serve him. As if in response to his steadfast devotion, Rama showered his benevolence upon Shri Rao in innumerable ways. As he blissfully slept one night, Shri Rao had a beautiful vision of Anjaneya. An overwhelmed Rao immediately designed an image of Anjaneya as he appeared in his dream, and this became the Mandali's logo! Another hair-raising leela was in store for Shri Rao before the Mandali's Golden Jubilee inauguration by His Excellency, R.Venkataraman, the then President of India. To the bewilderment of all those present, a monkey released the Souvenir!

S.V.N Rao dedicated his entire life for the Mandali and he left the material world in the year 2000. S.N.Varadaraj, his youngest son took over the reins of the Mandali as its General Secretary and is leading the organisation in the path of growth.

The Early years

From the year 1939 for about 3 to 4 years Ramanavami Celebrations were conducted on 3rd Road, Chamarajpet, but were subsequently shifted to the spacious grounds of Sri Rameshwara Temple nearby.

In a short span Mandali's Ramanavami Festival grew big. Size and duration of the festivals were increased. Full-fledged concerts for about 15 days were being arranged. Some of the important Personalities who performed during this period were: Salem Desikan, Ayyamani Aiyar, Thangammal, Palghat Seetharama Bhagavathar, G.N. Balasubramanyam, Chambai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Flute Natarajan, Rajarathnam Pillai, V.V. Sadagopan, R.K.Srikantan, Arunachalappa, Palani Subramanya Pillai, Papa Venkataramaiah, Vasanta Kokilam, Bangalore Krishna Bhagavathar, C.R. Mani, M.A.Narasimhachar, and a host of others. Incidentally the first major Music Concert on the Mandali's Platform was that of Salem Desikan in the year 1944. Interestingly, Mandali's Ramanavami season used to commence with a Vocal Recital by Chambai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. This eventually came to be followed as a custom for many years.

From the year 1949, the Celebrations were conducted at the spacious Hall of BDCC Bank, situated in Chamarajpet. Maharajpuram Vishwanatha Iyer, Madurai Mani Iyer, Alathur Brothers, these three were among the top ranking Musicians of those times. They performed at the Mandali during this period. Smt. M.L.Vasanthakumari's long and cherished association with the Mandali commenced here in the year 1950. Some of the leading Musicians who started performing at Mandali during this period were: Dandapani Desikar, R.R. Keshavamurthy, Salem Chellam Iyengar, Veena Doreswamy Iyengar, Salem Raghavan, P. Bhuvaneshwariah, Vilvadri Iyer, Shivaprakasham, Honnappa Bhagavathar, Manakkal Rangarajan, Belakavady Vardaraja Iyengar, Ramnad Eshwran,Veena Chandrashekariah, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, M.S. Gopalakrishnan, K.S. Gopalakrishnan, Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan, Sudha Raghunathan, Bombay Jayashree, Sowmya, Nithyasree Mahadevan, and many others.

Music concerts of T. Chowdiah and T.R. Mahalingam were a must in all Mandali's Festivals. Palani Subramanya Pillai, Palghat Mani Iyer, M.L.Veerabhadraiah, K.S. Manjunath were among the most sought after percussionists in those days, Sri. Palghat Mani Iyer had a vast number of admirers too. Sri. Palghat Mani Iyer helped and lent his wholehearted support to Narayanaswamy Rao even in organizing the concerts when the latter used to visit Madras in this connection. He was instrumental in popularising Mandali's name in the Music circles of Madras.

The 50’s

As the size and duration of the festivals grew Mandali looked for a more spacious place. The vacant land adjacent to Bangalore City Institute was an Ideal one. Thus in the year 1952, Ramanavami Festivals were shifted here and were conducted in the same venue for the next 16 years. Mandali pioneered in providing a congenial atmosphere and creating the right ambience required to enjoy Music. A spacious Pandal which could easily accommodate up to 4000 people, Quality Audio System, Comfortable seating arrangements, were some of the facilities initiated by the Mandali.

Mandali, during this period attained a pre-eminent status as a Premier Cultural Institution of Bangalore. It earned a prestigious place as one of the most sought after Platforms to perform. The decades of the fifties and sixties could easily be termed as the Golden Era of the Mandali. Mandali shifted to this venue in 1952, by strange coincidence Bharataratna M.S. Subbulakshmi's first concert under the aegis of the Mandali was also in the same year. Mandali enjoys a very strong relationship with M.S. Subbulakshmi. She and her husband late Sri.T. Sadashivan, both showed immense love and affection towards the Mandali. Starting from the year 1952 till 1992 in a span of Forty-one years M.S. has performed on Thirty-one occassions in the Mandali's Ramanavami Festivals. Mandali has been singularly fortunate in establishing such a glorious feat.

Each concert of M.S. at the Mandali had its own richness of the occasion, to be remembered and cherished for a long time. The most memorable day was, when in the year 1980 M.S's concert at the Mandali was broadcast Live by AIR all over the South. Another interesting aspect of M.S's concerts at the Mandali was 'Rain'. It did rain on a number of occasions, but such was the sagacity of M.S and her husband T. Sadashivan the concerts used to go on smoothly till the end, and no such occassion arose when the concerts had to be cancelled or rescheduled. Every concert of M.S at the Mandali turned out to be a Grand success.

Some of the finest Musicians of this period have added Credence and Grace to the Mandali's platform : Doyen of Karnatic Music and inventor of the modern Concert format Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Chittoor Subramanya Pillai, Sathur Subramanyam, K.B. Sundarambal, M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavatar, S. Balachander, Veena Dhanammal, R.S. Keshavamurthy, B.S. Raja Iyengar, A. Subba Rao, B. Devendrappa, M.D. Ramanathan, Madurai Somasundaram, Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, D.K. Jayaraman, S. Ramanathan, C.S. Murugabhoopathy, Madurai Krishna Iyengar, and many others, have adorned the Mandali's Platform and given it a hallowed stature.

The Dignitaries

Mandali has a tradition that all along, eminent dignitaries from public life have inaugurated the Mandali's festivals.

from the year 1955, Sri. Jayachamaraja Wodeyar the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore and the then Rajapramukh who was a great Patron of Music & Musician himself , participated in Many Ramanavami Celebrations. In the year 1957, the Maharaja participated in the Inaugural ceremony of Mandali's Ramanavami Celebrations along with Bharatarathna Sir. C. Rajagopalachari. This was the occasion when HH Maharaja & Rajaji called Mandali as ‘Gnana Gana Sudhe’ & ‘Temple of Music’ respectively.

3 Presidents of India namely H.E Dr S Radhakrishnan, H.E V.V.Giri & H.E R.Venkatraman & 4 Vice Presidents of India namely H.E Dr S Radhakrishnan, H.E G.S.Pathak, H.E B.D.Jatti & H.E V.V.Giri have Inaugurated Mandali’s Ramanavami Celebrations.

The Platinum Jubilee of the Mandali was Inaugurated by 2 Governors, H.E. the Governor of Karnataka & H.E the Governor of the then United Andhra Pradesh, a very first of its kind. Almost all the Chief Minister’s & Governors of Karnataka have participated in our Ramanavami Celebrations.

The Challenges

Special mention must be made here of the Concert of Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan. The year was 1956. A day prior to the concert it started raining very heavily in Bangalore. On the day of the concert its fury increased still further. There was no respite from rain for 3 to 4 days. But Narayanaswamy Rao was so steadfast, he vowed to have Khan Saheb's Concert at any cost, he convinced Khan Saheb and retained him for almost a week in Bangalore and saw to it that the Concert was through once the rain abated.

A similar occasion cropped up years later, this time it was an eminent South Indian Musician, the interruption this time was not from rain, but the peculiar nature of the Musician himself. On the day of the concert there was no trace of the artiste anywhere in Bangalore. Narayanaswamy Rao got news that he was in Salem, without losing heart, he determined that the concert would be held, he hired a car, and sent emissaries to bring the Musician back to Bangalore. It was an arduous to & fro trip of 10-12 hours, on top of it, it was raining. Nevertheless, the mission was accomplished. It was well past 10' 'O' clock in the night when the artiste finally came up onto the stage. However, thousands who eagerly awaited were not let down, they had taken part in a historic and memorable concert which went on till late in the midnight.

The Mandali instituted a National Award in the Memory of our founder in the year 2000. In the year 2004 when the Mandali was about to confer the award on the Legendary Violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, there was a heavy Rain which shattered the entire Pandal. With the blessings of the lord no one was harmed and all the 5000 audience inside the auditorium were shifted to safe place. The award ceremony took place after a gap of 4 days.

The Mandali instituted a National Award in the Memory of our founder in the year 2000. In the year 2004 when the Mandali was about to confer the award on the Legendary Violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, there was a heavy Rain which shattered the entire Pandal. With the blessings of the lord no one was harmed and all the 5000 audience inside the auditorium were shifted to safe place. The award ceremony took place after a gap of 4 days.

In a mammoth function such as the Ramanavami every moment is challenging but with the blessings of the lord we are sure that the Mandali will face them successfully.

The Fort High School Ramanavami

In late sixties, in the year 1968, the Celebrations were shifted to the huge Fort High School Grounds, just opposite the City Institute. Thanks to the liberal help and co-operation from the Government of Karnataka, Dept. Of Education, Celebrations are being smoothly conducted here for the last 35 years.

The Pandal and the huge open space adjoining it can very easily accommodate up to eight thousand people. Here, the Mandali celebrated its Golden Jubilee and its Diamond Jubilee Festivals in a grand manner. The Golden Jubilee Festival was for 54 days while The Diamond Jubilee celebrations went on for a record 62 days. Sri. R.Venkataraman, then President of India, inaugurated the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Sixties and Seventies saw the emergence of several eminent Artistes. The Mandali took pride in hosting many such stalwarts: Jon B. Higgins, Emani Shankara Shastry, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Chitti Babu, Seerkazhi Govindarajan, and many others. Jon B. Higgins an American, who had acquired great proficiency in Karnatic Music performed at the Mandali for two years (1971,1982). The same period saw some new, young and highly talented Musicians come on the scene, some of whom are today household names across the country: K.J. Yesudas, Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan, Baby Gayathri and such others. K.J. Yesudas tops the list, who, today is one of the most sought after Musician.

Several talented and accomplished artistes of Karnataka have adorned the Mandali's stage as young artistes, some of whom have risen to great heights today.

Several Classical Dance and related Programmes, have been featured in the Mandali's Ramanavami Celebrations. The most notable among them are two Dance programmes one by the legendary Bharatanatyam exponent T. Balasaraswathi, and the other by the world renowned Kalakshetra of Madras. The 4 day Dance-Drama ballet based on Ramayana, enacted by Kalakshetra was a unique experience, the presentation emphasising purely on Bhava and rich Abhinaya without the use of any conversation was a wonderful experience.

After the disappearance of SVN Rao from the Material World in 2000, a Platinum era began at the Mandali. Many leading artistes such as Dr.K.J.Yesudas, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Mishra Brothers, Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna, U.Shrinivas, Sudha Raghunath, Pandit Jasraj, Dr.L.Subramaniam, Bombay Jayashree, Aruna Sairam, T.M.Krishna, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarthi, Mysore Brothers, Dr.Kadri Gopalnath, Ganesh & Kumaresh to name a few have been performing at the Fort Ramanavami Celebrations.

To commemorate the 70th year of the Mandali, a special National Conference of Ramayana has been organised wherein over 30 scholars from various walks of life participated. Special dance ballets of Smt Vijayanthimala Bali, Shobana, Nirupama Rajendra of the Prabath fame & Prabath Kalavidaru have taken place recently.

The Mandali post SVN era saw a huge raise in Jugalbandhi concert series. Every Ramanavami has a minimum of 4 Jugalbandhi concert. Some of the Jugalbandhi's that have taken place are: Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt with Dr.Mysore Manjunath ; Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt with Ganesh Rajagopalan ; Dr.Mysore Manjunath with Mandolin U Rajesh ; Dr.Mysore Manjunath with Pravin Godkindhi ; Shashank S with Rakesh Chaurasia ; Kumaresh Rajagopalan with Ronu Majumdhar ; Purbayan Chaterjee with Mysore Manjunath to name a few.

Every year the Mandali erects a Massive Pandal which can accommodate over 10,000 audience with the best ambience that connects Rasikas with the Lord via Music.


Our Activities

Sree Ramaseva Mandali is a synonym for 'Ramanavami Celebrations' in the south. The Mandali hosts a month long National Music Festival as part of Ramanavami Celebrations. The 2017 Sree Ramanavmi Celebrations & National Music festival is the 79th festival of the Mandali. Around 350 National & Internationally repute artistes are invited every year. Special discourses on Ramayana along with various spiritual ceremonies are conducted daily in the month long celebrations. Lunch & Diner for around 15,000 people will be served during the celebrations.


Mr.Rao was the first person to organise a Music festival as part of Ramanavami Celebrations, which now has become a cultural icon of the Country. The organisation which began at the foot paths of 3rd Main Road, Chamarajapet is today “The Temple of Music” for the Indian Classical Music.

The Mandali is responsible for upbringing of many artistes. The Mandali has assisted many Musicians financially, at times of crisis. The Mandali has established awards in the name of “Rama Gana Kalacharya”, “S.V.N.Rao Memorial National Award” & “Veda Vyasa Sanman”. “Rama Gana Kalacharya”, “S.V.N.Rao Memorial National Award” will be conferred on Music Teachers & Musicians respectively. The “Veda Vyasa Sanman” is conferred on philosophers.

The Mandali has been successful in attracting the youth towards the Indian Classical Music with the effective utilisation of media, thereby linking India's past to the future. The Mandali has also served as an example to many organisations to organise Ramanavami Music festival.

The Mandali has adopted the century old, Old Fort High School and provides free books, drinking water, uniforms to the High school students. The Mandali is donating upto Rupees Two Lakhs for the all-round development of the School.

The Mandali has a greater share in ensuring that the essence of Indian Classical Music exists in the era of westernisation.


A unique quality of the Mandali is the rapport and strong relationship it enjoys with Musicians. After performing once on Mandali's stage a strong affinity and bondage seem to develop between Mandali and the Artistes. It is the divine fortune of Mandali that many Eminent Musicians & Veteran Artistes have repeatedly Performed on Mandali's stage. Veterans like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, G.N. Balasubramanyam, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Alathur Brothers, Madurai Mani Iyer, Palghat Mani Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.S. Subbalakshmi, M.L. Vasantha Kumari, U Shrinivas have all performed in the Mandali's Ramanavami Festivals with amazing regularity.

Legends like Dr.K.J.Yesudas, Dr.L.Subramaniam, Dr.Kadri Gopalnath have thought performing at Mandali is a service to the lord Ramachandra. We can see the same trend among the current generation of artistes. Sudha Raghunath, Mysore Brothers, Bombay Jayashree, T.M.Krishna, Ranjani Gayatri, Vijay Siva, U Rajesh, Pravin Godkindhi, Shashank S, Ganesh Kumaresh to name a few.

The Mandali receives over 2000 applications every year for Junior concerts. This itself indicates the popularity and sanctity of the Ramanavami Celebrations.

Ramanavami Festivals and Music go together, they are inseparable. Now, it is a Tradition. Mandali has pioneered this as its prime cause. Narayanaswamy Rao's religious bent of mind and his deep affection and love for Music have certainly contributed to this.

This Tradition has to be preserved, when one just scans through the fate of most of our festivals, this point gains importance. Today, whatever be the occasion, whether a marriage, a birthday, a School day or Ganesha Festival it is cinema music which rules the roost. Only Ramanavami seems to be an exception. Mandali feels proud to be part of such an effort. Mandali has taken the initiative and given the lead. In the future also, Mandali ambitiously looks forward to further strengthen this tradition and thereby enrich our glorious Cultural Heritage.