Raghurajpur is a heritage crafts village on Odisha state, 10 kms from Puri and 55 kms from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.
There are about a 100 houses in the village and almost everyone is an artisan. They are Pattachitra painters, an art form which dates back to 5 BC. They also make traditional masks, stone idols, paper mache, sculptures, wooden toys.
Some of these artists have also won National Awards for their exceptional work.
Amid scenic surroundings of coconut, palm and jackfruit groves, this village is an ideal getaway from Puri or Bhubaneshwar.
Raghurajpur is also reknowned for being the birthplace of Kelucharan Mohapatra, the renowned exponent of the Odissi dance form.
It is sad that at one point of time, these artisans were forced to get in to agriculture as they could not survive by selling their artworks.
In 1998, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) did a two year research and this village was chosen for being developed as the first heritage village to be developed as a crafts village. They trained the villagers on relearn traditional techniques and impliment them in their artworks. They learnt how to prepare plaster made of lime, sand, jute, molasses, lentils, curd, casein and local herbs such as trifala and bel.
There are other neighbouring villages like Dandasahi, Nayakapatna and Khasposak which are also involved in these work.
The pattachitra paintings are made over a piece of cloth known as Patta or a dried palm leaf, which is first painted with a mixture of chalk and gum. Over the prepared surface, colorful and intricate pictures of various Gods, Goddesses, and mythological scenes with ornamentation of flowers, trees and animals are then painted.
The paintings on Tussar saris, especially the Sambalpuri Saree depicting Mathura Vijay, Raslila and Ayodhya Vijay owe their origin to ‘Raghurajpur Pattachitra paintings’.
Some pictures from my visit –
This post will be incomplete without a Thanks to Ardhendu Sekhar Panda for choosing me to accompany him for his travels around Odisha to learn photography.
This post is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a travel photographer and a photography trainer.