Bobbili Veena, also known as Saraswati Veena, is a musical instrument that once enjoyed the status of a royal music instrument. Kings of Bobbili were responsible for the invention of the Veena.
Bobbili Veena is made using jackfruit wood and a full size Bobbili Veena is known as Saraswati Veena. With the lion’s head carved at one end, the frets of Bobbili Veenas are made of bell metal.
Bobbili Veenas were known as ‘ekanda veena’ for being made from one single piece of wood, today the veenas have two or more joints due to lack of availability the wood.
About 40 families belonging to the Sarvasidhi family in Gollapalli village near Bobbili, are the sole manufacturers of this instrument apart from about a dozen families of the same clan setting shops across the country. They obtained GI status for the instrument in March last year and thus, protected it from extinction.
Sarvasidhi Achutanarayana, the descendent of Achanna who invented the Bobbili Veena, says that notwithstanding its fame for its unique treble, the instrument no more enjoys its former status. “The professional veena is vanishing, with not many people willing to learn it. Hence, we are now manufacturing the miniature versions which are gifted as mementos and memorabilia, to save the dying art,” he adds.