With the start of the new year, I was gearing up for a short travel. Republic day, being Friday paved the way for the perfect weekend getaway. I packed up my rucksack with more excitement this time to use my new travel mate Canon G7x mark II.
I planned to make this short stay a memorable one and hence was referring to the glory of Odisha. While thinking on a possible travel option, a the pending visit to a heritage village in Odisha, Raghurajpur clicked my mind. To mention here, in my previous visit to Odisha in December 2016, me and my partner attended the Toshali crafts fair, a beautifully crafted one, standing true to its name. We were taking a stroll and came across this traditional signature work of a resident from Raghurajpur village near Puri. It was called Pattachitra. We could not help ourselves than to take a pause at an outlet as the purveyor had an impressive command over his verbal skills.
He introduced us to the traditional work and explained the finest details of Pattachitra. The canvas of Pattachitra as explained by him, was made of cotton cloth by mixing chalk, gum resins and naturally made glue with tamarind paste. The artists use naturally made colors to paint these Pattachitras, mostly of mythological belief. We were spellbound by the beautiful and intricate work and ended up buying one which depicts the story of Lord Krishna with his gopikas forming a horse. Visit to this heritage village was pending on my list and the thought of possible accomplishment this time, gave me a sigh of relief.
The time finally came to travel 540 kilometres from Raipur, Chattisgarh to Bhubaneswar, Odisha. As there are limited options to travel, I had to choose a bus. To my surprise, a brand new Volvo was my conveyance. It made my journey to Bhubaneswar, a very pleasant and comfortable one, as I was cushioned enough not to experience the bumpy roads and curves. I reached my destination in 12 hours. After taking a short breakfast, we started our journey towards the heritage village.
To quench my thirst for travel, I planned to drive through the longest and less traversed route to reach Raghurajpur. We headed straight towards the national highway, connecting to Khurda and after driving for 15 km, reached Jatani crossing. With the aid of google maps and re-confirmation from the local dwellers, we headed towards the Puri highway from Jatani. Meanwhile, we took a pause to refresh ourselves with tea and local foods, vada. Vada is an Indian snack made of soaked rice and urad dal.
Provision of ghugni (dish prepared from white or green soaked peas) with vada is something unique to the Odia cuisines. Soon, we resumed our journey only to stop after a drive of 10-12 km to capture the archaeological beauty of Maa Mangala temple. The temple premises seemed to be decorated which made us inquire the locals about the possible reasons. We were told that a wedding ceremony was to be held that day in the temple and we soon understood many interesting dishes were being prepared there.
We finally headed towards our destination crossing Pipli and then rode towards the left of national highway. We reached Chandanpur village after travelling 44 kilometres from Jatani and from there moved towards Raghurajpur. As soon as we entered the premises of Raghurajpur, we were stopped by few people who were trying to sell traditional artisan works of Raghurajpur. I soon remembered the advice given to me by the seller at the Toshali crafts fair, not to halt at the entry of Raghurajpur and proceeded into the village. In less than 500 meters, a sign board welcomed us to the heritage village of Raghurajpur.
We decided to walk through the village and parked the bike under a banyan tree. Soon, we entered the first house of the village named “Abhiram crafts”. Gentle welcome by an elderly lady painting a small pot, encouraged us to walk into the house. She was extremely joyous to explain us the various works the family has been making over the years. The house in itself seemed quite artistic with artisan works displayed in a majestic way. To our surprise, the flooring of the house was also covered in plastic sheets depicting Pattachitras. After a while, son of the elderly lady and leading artisan of the house Mr. Abhiram walked in and explained the layout of the village, nine different forms of traditional works done by Raghurajpur residents and provided us a village guide map.
The nine traditional forms of work were Pattachitras, Palm leaf engravings, Tussar silk paintings, coconut shell designing’s, work on betel nuts, toys made of cow dung, stone carvings, wood carvings and paper masks. The traditional art of making Pattachitras runs in families with inheritance from fathers. We could not resist taking snaps of various Pattachitras with the master holding them. He explained the intricate details of the work and told that the time taken varied from few days to months. Most of them as I already wrote were based on Hindu mythology. Overwhelmed by their narration and hospitality, we ended up buying some wall hangings and book marks.
We then moved into the village and were surrounded by people inviting us to visit their houses. It was quite difficult for us to assure all of them and somehow managed to keep our word. Every house was unique with decorations over the walls. The main entrance of the village had an arch, a temple and a display board describing the details of award winners from the village. The temple was being renovated and we were told that prayers and worship there would soon resume. We walked into many houses, starting from the left of the temple and took a long pause at a house in the corner of the lane.
Apart from the traditional legacy, the leading artisan of the house had made spectacular paintings of tribal women with vibrant colors, belonging to Gonda and Santal tribes. It was difficult to believe they were paintings and not real photographs as they depicted women with clear emotions. We bought few wall hangings with tribal culture being worked on them and got betel nut carvings as a complimentary gift. We happily moved on to traverse the right lane of the village and came across many artisans, one of whom was a national award winner and took a look at his works. In one house, we came across the making of canvas for Pattachitras and it looked quite laborious a job.
It was 2 pm in the afternoon and we started having hunger prangs. We were repeatedly called in by a person in a way difficult for refusal. We did not regret our decision as we had seen some magnificent coconut carvings and paper masks prepared by the family members. The female sibling was winner of Odisha state award and we were shown the works done by her in a magazine printed by the Odisha government. Then we interacted with an artisan, sitting on the outer premises of his house who showed us the rough sketch he has made to prepare Pattachitras.
We decided to move from the village as our hunger prangs were getting intensified. As previously planned we moved towards our next destination, Satapada on Chillika banks and take a break at any food outlet on the way. A delicious lunch with fish curry and rice on the highway towards Satapada completed the good day. Our journey continued to Satapada with memories of Raghurajpur still afresh.
THINGS TO KNOW:
RAGHURAJPUR HERITAGE VILLAGE-
Distance from Bhubaneswar (nearest airport)- 75 km (2.5 hrs)
Distance from Puri- 12 km
There were several shops stopping the tourists on the way to the main village. The main village is 500 meter on the same road. There is a temple on the entrance of the main village. Its better to visit the artists houses directly.
The price of Patachhitras range from 500 INR to 50,000 INR based on the detailing of the pictures. Support the locals and try to buy some of their work.
There are no eateries near the village, the nearest dhaba is at Chandanpur.
Carry plenty of water. Since it is in the coastal area weather is mostly hot and humid.
Check out previous blog: Sirpur group of monuments Chhattisgarh- Click here