Certain destinations in India are a heaven for all those seeking to explore the hidden art and artifacts that India has! Whether you are seeking to experience the rustic village life of a typical East Indian Village or learn how the locals create different types of handicraft paintings, you can find it all in this quaint little town which looks right out of R K Narayan’s “Malgudi Days”, if only you are ready to get off the map and travel the distance!
The small coconut palm shaded village of Raghurajpur, which houses not more than 130 homes may not be the go to destination for a lot of touristy crowd !But inspite of its humble life and off the grid location, it has an identity of its own. Which is why year after year, there has been a growth in the number of travelers wanting to come here and learn more about the Orissans arts and crafts. Read on to know more about all the things you will love about Raghurajpur.
- Articrafts & paintings– Though Pattachitra( traditional, cloth-based scroll painting) is the biggest element of Raghurajpur’s artistic brilliance, there are other art forms such as palm leaf engravings, stone and wood carvings, paper mache toys, masks, wood carvings, wooden and cow dung toys etc which are as integral a part of the heritage of Raghurajpur.
- Village life– This village is made of beautiful thatch and brick homes with sitouts designed in the front yard. It is interesting to know that the houses of Raghurajpur were very different from other traditional villages in India. You will notice that the houses are laid out in a compact form around a central avenue of sorts. Raghurajpur is visibly not a farming settlement where houses are intermingled between wide swathes of green fields. It is a settlement of craftsmen and has been laid out in a manner that encourages exchange of thoughts and ideas.The inhabitants of Raghurajpur haven’t limited their creativity to only paper and cloth; even the walls of their homes are their canvas.
- Local cuisine– Rice is the staple food of the people of this village. A typical meal here consists of a main course and dessert. Typically rice, vegetable curry, lentils are served as the main course for lunch and dinner. For dessert you may get to eat a variety of ingredients, with milk, chenna (a form of cottage cheese), coconut, rice, and wheat flour being the most common.
- Folk dances– Besides handicrafts, Gotipua Dance is another highlight of this art village. This traditional folk dance form is integral to Orissa’s tribal culture and is performed by boys in the guise of girls, as a worshiping ritual to please the Deity of the Puri Jagannath temple.
- Lush Landscapes – Raghurajpur is an idyllic village surrounded by thick groves of coconut, palm, mango, jack fruit, paddy fields dotted with betel vines, and the river Bhargavi flowing by. All these make it the perfect artistic background for the creative souls who live here.
Photo Courtesy: Nihal Parashar
How to reach:
By Road: Raghurajpur is located only 14 kms from the town of Puri in Orrisa. Once you reach Puri, you can take the Bhubaneswar road on the way to Chandanpur. From Chandanpur bazaar, Raghurajpur is located just 1.5 km away. There a lots of readily available buses and taxis plying on the route serving Raghurajpur. Since the village is less than a two hours’ drive from Bhubaneswar, and just 20 minutes off from Puri, one can easily hire a cab from either of the two destinations to reach here.
Nearest station: Puri( 14 kms away)is connected to major Indian cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Bhubaneswar etc
Nearest Airport: Biju Patnaik airport located in Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport to Raghurajpur, which is around 70 km away. The airport is very well connected to Delhi and Mumbai. Those coming internationally can also easily get connections through Delhi or Kolkata.
By the late fifties only a few old men among the 90- odd Chitrakara families of Raghurajpur were still painting, whereas all the youths had deserted the profession; it was only around the year 1953 that, with the intervention of an American lady, Mrs Halina Zealey, a new future opened up and the artists once again took out their brushes and colors.
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