DhakshinaChitra – A Cultural place to Visit in Chennai
India is a country with diverse culture and tradition. The modernisation and development of the country is slowly burying the essence of tradition. Chennai, a metropolitan has so many places of recreation, culture, business, education to visit. A cultural museum situated in East Coast Road, Mutukaadu was opened for visiting the public in the year 1996. It was founded as an effort of Madras Craft Foundation. The cultural heritage of a country is required to be cherished and preserved. DhakshinaChitra is an open space museum and a real time cultural depiction of south India. Dakshin Chitra's primary motive is to depict, the art, culture and tradition of South India.
History of Dakshina Chitra in Chennai
Cultural places are the rarest and DhakshinaChitra is one of those places, preserving the culture of South India and it also consists of a lot of art based activities. The open museum got its birth from Madras Craft Foundation. In 1984, the Madras Craft Foundation was formed by Dr. Deborah Thiagrajan along with other artisans. The Madras Craft Foundation later concentrated on the building of DhakshinaChitra. The foundation received a lot of donations and support from private concerns such as Ford and also Government. Laurie Baker, a renowned Architect brought the vast area of sand into a cultural place by giving his service in building the four sections. In December, 1996 the famous DhakshinaChitra was up and running. In the beginning there were only six young men. Developed from a Non-Government Organisation which expects no profit, the centre stays as an important place of cultural importance. It remains a place depicting culture, traditional art, craft and demo of certain occupations such as pot making, glass blowing etc.
Timings and entry fee of DhakshinaChitra in Chennai
DhakshinaChitra exhibits, in a natural way the culture and the traditions of four major states namely, Andra Pradesh, TamilNadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The place consists of nearly 17 houses, depicting typically the structure of houses in these states, mostly houses of the familiar communities. Village artisans who make glass blow articles, pots can be interacted with. One can also buy the articles if they wish to. Periodically exhibitions are also conducted and some groups perform their traditional arts such as Puppet show, Mayilaatam, Oyilaatam etc. It is a place perfectly suitable for an educational trip, where children can learn a lot about the culture of the four states. It is also a best place for people interested in art, craft and culture.
DhakshinaChitra is open for the public throughout the week, except on Tuesdays and on Diwali from 10AM to 6PM. They charge Rs.75 for adults and Rs.20 for Children. Students fare is Rs.30. Overseas visitors fare for adults is Rs.200 and for students is Rs.75. The ten acre huge land is divided into four sections for four different states.
The Heritage Home of the Southern India:
As spoke about earlier, one can find four states and their cultures. There are several houses in each region. The houses depict the cultural regions perfectly and also when we stroll through the roads which are constructed similar to that state, we feel like walking in that region itself. Also the activities of those regions are made in a perfect ambience in such a way that we feel the essence of that art to its fullest.
Let us see the various houses spread across district wise in each region, firstly the Kerala Section has two Hindu houses belonging to the Trivandrum district and the Calicut district. A Syrian Christian house is also located. Apart from these houses there is a cattle shed, traditional textile exhibition, activity hall, pattipura,etc. The next region is Karnataka section having in its premises a weaver’s house of Bangalore district. The Andhra Pradesh section also has a Ikat Weaver’s house and a coastal Andhra thatch house. Finally the TamilNadu section consists of Chettinadu Merchant’s house of the Pudhukottai District, Agriculturists house belonging to the Mayavaram district, the basket Weaver’s house and Potter’s house of the Chengalpattu district. A Agraharam house of Thirunelveli district and kanchipuram Weaver’s house is also one among them.
Old Traditional Art performances in Dakshina Chitra Chennai
The present day situations have got a great craze on television, cinemas and other recreational activities. This has ruined the presence of other art performances such as Oyilaatam, Dhevaratam, Mayilaatam, Thapatam, therukoothu, etc. these were taken as a challenge by DhakshinaChitra wher there are several groups performing such art mostly in the Amphitheater. Seasonally these events occur nine days in a month and for half hour and four times a day. There are people getting trained in arts such as Dhevaratam and shadow show or puppet show. The Madras Craft Foundation funds these trainings in order to maintain the culture which without care would extinct.
Learning at DhakshinaChitra in Chennai
There are a lot of events and workshops conducted throughout the area of DhakshinaChitra. Artisans who are experts in their job are present to show a demo and also one can try activities such as pot making. Apart from these there are a lot of classes conducted for students in a natural manner by experts. Classes conducted are for music, folk dance, shadow show, puppetry, storytelling and dramatization. One can chose this place as a perfect school to train students in the holidays.
Other Facilities in Dakshina Chitra Chennai
The ten acre land spread also consists of various other places for exhibition, shops to purchase craft and handicraft items. There is a canteen, a textile exhibition, a craft shop. An authentic vegetarian restaurant named Kanali serves authentic south Indian food. One can plan a personal event in the mandapam present. The seminar hall remains a super place for product launches, meetings etc. One will find so much to do at DhakshinaChitra. It is an entertaining museum and perfect place to realise the essence of our culture.
Future Events in Dakshina Chitra Chennai
The first week of January conducts a Village Heritage Festival. During Pongal a festival is celebrated with a lot of Gramiya Kalaigal, especially Poi KaalKuthurai Aatam by Raju. There are a lot of workshops for Children and adults throughout the month of January. A painting exhibition in the first week of January and another painting exhibition name “innerflow” for the rest of the month.
Thus DhakshinaChitra is a Must visit place in Chennai. We should not avoid it as a place that would be boring with the category called culture or museum. It is a best real time museum to relish the culture. It might not be possible for all to go through the four states, but surely DhakshinaChitra as the name means, a picture of Dhakshin - south will let us know how these regions have been in the past. We might also not know a lot of extinct arts in South India. Dhakshina chitra will truly remain a good experience if visited during their culture festive.
How to Reach Dakshina Chitra in Chennai
Dakshinachitra is not just a place to visit or a place for excursion alone but it also provides space for Business Activities too. Being a regular host venue for Art of Living programs and for Semester at Sea Programs, Dakshin Chitra is quite famous with visitors from abroad too as well as from the Indian tourists. The guests can avail of their special spread from their Kanali - South Indian Restaurant which is catered by well-known caterers of Chennai. Dakshinachitra's craft bazaar offers a vareity of Indian crafts, textiles, art pieces, Jewelery in their in house shops and can also be bought from the artisans and craft persons directly.
Dakshinachitra is next to MGM Dizee World on the ECR Road, close to Muttukadu Chennai. Though Dakshin Chitra, Chennai is literally in the outskirts of Chennai when comes to district, it is in the outskirts of Chennai. Dakshina Chitra is 45kms from Chennai city. It takes almost an hour (minimum) to tour around the entire Dakshinachitra. To reach Dakshinachitra from the city, one can hire a call taxi or hire private taxis.