Dakshina Chitra in East Coast Road (ECR), Chennai offers a glimpse of the culture and heritage of the bygone era in South India. It’s by far the most different tourist destination I have seen in Chennai. The change is refreshing. I didn’t expect to see the scale at which cultural heritage of South India has been recreated here. Their efforts to support craftsmen and artists of the region is laudable.
That is an open amphitheater. Not sure if any event/festival is conducted here, nothing was going on when I went. Dakshina Chitra conducts a lot of events where artists skilled in traditional art forms (music, dance, etc.) are invited to perform. They also conduct workshops for both children and adults where one can learn things like chitrakathi paintings, pottery, card modeling, etc. If you are lucky, you get to see some exhibitions (of paintings, etc.), as well. You can check the current events/workshops from here.
As per the poster stuck on the wall near the entrance, we can try the following activities at Dakshina Chitra – Pot painting, block printing, mehendi, kolam, palm leaf puppet making, shell craft, kite making, basket making, pottery, pounding paddy, kalamkari, paper mache painting, bead work, paper house making, tic tak, top spinning, candle making, paper bag making. Hmmm… I should have come to this place when I was younger!
Once we enter the campus, there are four sections – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka. In each section, we can find houses belonging to the bygone era of the respective state. Photos of four houses (one from each state) can be seen below -
Each house was filled with items that was used by people back then. There were many statues, furniture, crockery items, puja items, decorative items, utility items, models of people, etc. Have a look at what was inside some of these houses -
Of course there were many many more interesting items and I have so many photos. But due to my self-imposed limit of 14 photos for this post, I have selected only a handful of them. The Tamil Nadu and Kerala sections were quite large with many houses/articles, but the AP and Karnataka sections were relatively smaller. If at all you want to get a glimpse of our heritage, ancestral-life and culture, this is the place to visit in Chennai.
There were many shops (like the above) selling handicraft items, clothing items, pottery items, decorative items and much more. The most interesting thing about these shops were, they were selling pottery items from inside a model potter’s house (for example)! The way they blend shopping with culture and heritage is unique to this place. Of course, if we buy something, we will be supporting the craftsmen who are still practicing ancient crafts. There was also a large restaurant shaped like one of those Kerala palaces!
The place is maintained very neatly and it is worth the Rs. 100 (incl. 10 rupees for camera) entrance fees charged by them. It will take half a day to see the various houses and exhibits (minimum), so be prepared for it. I was short of time, hence was not able to see fully! Excellent tourist destination for families from inside Chennai and (especially for) tourists from outside Chennai. I wonder why I did not visit this place earlier!
Further info/Website: Dakshina Chitra