Dakshina Chitra: A Place Where Diverse Cultures Meet.

Great culture is often betokened by great simplicity” – Dorothee Deluzy.

It’s raining heavily in Chennai. Used only with cruel sun and crippling heat, it’s the time of the year when Chennai always comes to a standstill. Rains always have a special place in Chennai as well as in my heart. They are emotive reminders. The reminders of my joyful childhood days. The days during which I carelessly played ‘mud-football’, sailed paper boats, caught cold and happily slept under the blanket.

Those days were gone. I’m not a child anymore but at heart I’m still a kid eagerly wanting to do all the naughty things and create nuisance all around me.  I might not be able to do all things tangibly. Anyway, in mind, I can do everything and anything I want and that’s what I’m doing right now: reliving in those fabulous memories in the rain. Our mind is such a beautiful machine, isn’t it?

Today, as the exams were postponed due to incessant rain, we didn’t have any other place to spend some free time other than a movie theatre. Unfortunately, none of the theatre was showing the movie we wanted see: Unnai Pol Orruvan. We were running short of ideas. At last, my Friend Kamal suggested visiting a place which I haven’t visited during the four years of my stay in Chennai: Dakshina Chitra.

Located at East Coast Road under the patronage of Madras Craft Foundation, Dakshina Chitra is a beautiful, mind blowing meeting place of the cultures of the diverse Indian people with emphasis on Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The only noise prevalent there in Dakshina Chitra was the noise of the heavenly water drops which were ceaselessly hitting on the roof. Neat, clean and decorated corridors took us to the seminar hall where a documentary was screening. We watched it for some time and went to the craft bazaar. From Mysore paintings to Rajasthani handicrafts, craft bazaar was vibrant in all aspects.

Painting- I really adore people who bring life to their sketches. It is the greatest form of creativity. I found lot of adorable people there who do miniature painting and sculpting in craft bazaar. At minimal price we can buy those great masterpieces too. If you are a person who seriously wants to learn painting, they also offer you courses in painting and other crafts.

Tamil Nadu section is the first place we visited. Six relocated houses including mud houses were there to exhibit various architectural styles. All of them boast of south Indian artistic, cultural and architectural splendor. They were also offering  excellent hands-on workshops on pottery, grinding rice and puppet making. While Kiran took the Kolam drawing (it’s a religious ritual of drawing auspicious designs with hands using flour at the entrance of the house. It requires excellent drawing skills and practice), I tried my hands at pottery!  It was fun playing with clay and making pots.

Soaking ourselves in the rain, we walked towards the Karnataka section where lot of costumes, pottery and other cultural monuments were at display. Andhra Pradesh Section too was soothing to eyes and refreshing to heart.

Finally, we reached the place which I was waiting to see since the beginning of the visit- Kerala Section. Two relocated Hindu houses, a Granary and a Syrian Christian House were at display. My wet body was chilling, while I entered the Hindu houses. They reminded me one of my Dad’s friend’s ancestral houses in Kerala. To my awe, the Christian house really looked like my ancestral house. While walking through the corridor of that house, I was, in real sense, walking down through my memory lines. Just for some moments I turned into a 6 year old kid who wanted to run crazily in rain, screaming, shouting and throwing mud water at mom and dad. Rainy days are really nostalgic.

While coming back, we saw a person playing with fire! He was a glass sculptor. We spent some time with him amazed at his exceptional skills and an array of his masterpieces which involves glass chariots and deities.  Dakshina Chitra is also blessed with a good library and an amphitheatre.

We are also fortunate enough to meet Prabhu Deva, a legendary Indian dancer and actor and Mr. Pandu, a Tamil comedian. As Mr. Pandu was Kamal’s Dad’s friend, we were also lucky to have a small talk with him. We wound up by having a delicious lunch from Dakshina Chitra’s Kanali Restaurant and visiting craft shop. It was the end of a wonderful day which took me back to my childhood days and also made me proud of the rich, vibrant Indian culture in which I was lucky to born and lives.


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