Raghurajpur is a heritage crafts village located 14 km from Puri, along the banks of the river Bhargavi. The tourists can take the Bhubaneswar road along the NH 203 near Chandanpur. Upon reaching Chandanpur bazar, take a right turn to Raghurajpur. Raghurajpur is located at a distance of 1.5km from Chandanpur. One should also visit Daanda Sahi which is on the left side of the Chandanpur Bazar.
The village specialises in patta chitra an art form that dates back to 5th century B.C. Apart from patta chitra, the artists also make Tussar paintings, palm leaf engravings, stone and wood carvings, wooden and paper mache toys, and masks.
Apart from its famed artistic brilliance, the village is also home to the famous Gotipua dance form (a precursor to the Odishi dance form) which originated from this place. Its also the birthplace of the most famous Odishi dance exponent late Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra.
Brief History of Raghurajpur
It’s believed that King Narasingha Deva established this village comprising of 18-19 families of artist known as Chitrakar’s, who were engaged in service of Lord Jagannath. Pattachitra evolved from Rekha Chitra and Kantha Chitra. Twice in its chequered history did the craft faced extinction, once after the great famine of 1866, to save their families and earn their livelihoods the artist brought in innovations like Panna, Nakhandia, Choukhunta, Thia and Tikli to pattachitra, these were sold to devotees who visited the lord Jagannath temple as souveniors and in turn helped propagate the cult of the lord across the shores of Odisha. The second upheaval came in the 1940’s. Again the art survived, this time with the help of an American woman, Mrs Halina Zealey, who patronised the pattachitra artist and helped propagate their work internationally. Subsequently many people have come forward and helped this unique art form to survive.
Around 50 families in Danda Sahi and 120 odd families in Raghurajpur are engaged in this craft as of today. Pattachitra – derives its name from the piece of cloth (patta) which is straightened and seasoned with gum made of turmeric extract. The colours used are Shankha – white, Hengulo- red, Hartal- yellow, Geru- Brown and Kala- black. The process of pattachitra art remains the same as it was when it started. After the patta is prepared,
sketches are made ( Tipona), then body colours are added (Banoka), then ornaments are given a coat ( Gahona banoka), then ornaments are designed( Rangarekha), then the dresses are given a border( Motokula), then the creases of the dress are done ( Sarukula), then the scenery is beautified(Gacholekha), then the dresses are designed ( Chito), then the border of the painting is done ( Dhadi), then the flowers are added ( Haladia), then the final touch of beautification is given to the paintings ( Shankopota).
INTACH – Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) gave recognition to Raghurajpur as India’s first Heritage village, and built a two room guest house in the village to facilitate tourists to visit this place and propagate the art. The villagers are very welcoming and easily let people inside their homes and impart their knowledge on this beautiful art form. Apart from the paintings and the wealth of knowledge you gather on pattachitra art do experience the famous Gotipua dance performed by the village girls to cap your day on a special note. The dance performed in a small cramped space within a house is high on aesthetics and brilliant in its execution.
Where to Stay
Though one has the option to stay either in Puri or Bhubaneswar and visit Raghurajpur, but if you are an art lover, you might want to try out the Raghurajpur Heritage Village Guest House built by INTACH.
For bookings contact Mr. Sudam Charan Swain- President of Raghurajpur Village
Tariff for the guest house rooms – Rs.300/day
Mob - +91-9437444421/ 9938631782
Though there are just two rooms, but the village can accommodate a group of 30 people if you choose the home stay option.
The guest house has a dining room and kitchen you can cook your own food- the guest house has the requisite utensils and gas cylinders or one can hire a villager to do the needful at extra cost.
The rooms are basic, compact and ok for a short stay.
The Basant Utsav- held in the spring season (Feb/March)- is a major tourist draw for this rural tourism centre.