Dakshin Chitra is a heritage village near Chennai set up for encouraging art, craft and architecture of all four southern states of India. It is an open air museum where one gets to experience the rich cultural heritage of South India. You can watch an episode of the Great Epic of Ramayana in the form of a shadow puppet show. Another interesting activity would be to take some lessons on pottery from the man at the potter’s wheel. Or spend some time with the traditional basket weaver and learn to weave some yourself! You can even get your portrait done by the village artist. I got my future read by a very learned parrot out here!
Dakshin Chitra is located on the scenic East Coast Road (ECR) near Muthukadu, Chennai. It is adjacent to MGM Dizzie World. The other landmark would be Sangeetha Hotel.
Dakshin Chitra is open 10am to 6pm barring Tuesdays. Contact number is 044 27472603. The entry fee s Rs 100 for adults and Rs 30 for kids aged 5-12.
Guides are also available at Dakshin Chitra. Prior booking is required at 9841020149.
The 10 acre site where Dakshin Chitra is built today was a vast expanse of sand dunes with six Palmyra trees. It used to frequently get flooded during the monsoons. In 1991, Architect Laurie Baker conceived the concept of having a heritage village for each of the southern states of India. The Madras Craft foundation inaugurated it in 1996.
Initially the folk music and dance troupes used to come from the neighboring villages! Dakshin Chitra has come a long way since then, playing host to some of the best names in the Indian Dance and Music scene like Amjad Ali Khan, Bombay Jayshree, Shivamani and Shiv Kumar Sharma.
Dakshin Chitra has been divided into sections for each of the four southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and TamilNadu. It was conceived to keep the traditions of South India alive. Each section provides a glimpse of art, craft, music, dance and other cultural aspects of South India.
There are altogether 17 heritage houses where you get to interact with the artisans and witness cultural programs. The houses of different communities have been replicated to provide a flavor of the architectural variety. Some of the finest specimens here are a century old Merchant house from Chettinad, a 150 year old house of a rich farmer from Tanjavur and a potter’s house from Tiruvallur.
Dakshin Chitra is also committed to keep alive some of the fading dance forms like Therukootu, Garagalu, Tappattam and Padayani. Every month, a particular folk dance is selected and there is a performance by trained dancers over 9 days. Workshops and summer camps are also organized to communicate with the children and youth of the country.
Architecture workshops are held at Dakshin Chitra to promote the traditional South Indian forms of architecture. The workshop focuses on the materials to be used, techniques and conservation.
Dakshin Chitra also provides a market place for artisans of different types to help them get livelihood. The Craft Bazaar and Craft Shop at the Centre help provide the artisans with sales opportunities. You can purchase traditional craft and textiles from the artisans directly.
Every couple of year, an international seminar is held to discuss an aspect of art and culture. Some of the recent editions covered Mural Painting traditions of 13-19th centuries, South Indian Jewelry and Folk Painting Traditions.
Dakshin Chitra has tied up with the Madras Craft Foundation to offer an Arts Management Diploma course for students. The program offers students a holistic perspective of art and craft management. The objective of the Course is to churn our professionally qualified Managers who are creative, skilled and carry a deep understanding of Culture.
There is a Kalyana Mandapam (Wedding Dias) along with a lawn available for hire at Dakshin Chitra! If you know anyone keen to get married in traditional south indian style, they need not look any further.
After spending a good 3 hours, hungry souls can head to Sangeetha restaurant just outside the entrance. There is a restaurant inside Dakshin Chitra as well for those who are too hungry to even step out!
The famed Crocodile Bank is located nearby and for my travelogue visit Croc Park.
For my travelogues on weekend getaways from Bangalore, visit Bangalore Weekend Ideas.