The town of Raghurajpur is not very well-known among tourists who flock to Puri for its bustling beach life, and the famous Lord Jagannath Temple. But artists and those who value art will definitely have heard of it. Raghurajpur is an art village in the Puri district and especially worth-exploring for its expert Pattachitra painters. It has been officially given the title of a heritage crafts village, and that is the beauty of this entire place. For those who love exploring the many handicrafts of India, book one of the cozy Puri hotels today and take a trip to Raghurajpur.
The village was just a part of a forest when an artist from Bengal decided to settle down somewhere different, and ended up in this forest. It is said that he created a picture of Lord Jagannath, and used charcoal to color the image. Over time, this sage furthered his interest in art and worked with limestone and colors to create wonderful artworks. This is how this artist’s village was born. The origins of the village go as far back as 5 BC. In 2000, after intensive research and documentation, the government declared Raghurajpur as the country’s first-ever heritage village and crafts village. Each home in this village has art displayed on its walls. The village is known for creating and painting parts of the chariots used in the annual Rath Yatra festival for Lord Jagannath.
Raghurajpur has located 14 km from Puri. It is set amidst the Chandaka forests. You wouldn’t even know the village was there if no one told you about it. It is surrounded by beautiful coconut, mango, jackfruit, and palm groves. The village has just two streets and only 120 houses. Each house is home to artists who practice traditional painting techniques.
The village is known for exclusively producing pattachitra paintings. These techniques have been passed down across generations. Many artists from the village have found recognition on the national and international stage. The pattachitra paintings are made over a piece of cloth or a dried palm leaf. It is first coated with chalk and then colorful mythological scenes are depicted in the paintings. The famous hand-painted tussar sarees feature pattachitra paintings too. Visiting artists in Raghurajpur is a wonderful experience as the artists are inviting and warm, and are always happy to share their stories and explain the entire process of creating a Pattachitra.
Since pattachitra is the chief identity of the village, not many people are aware that Raghurajpur is also home to performing artists. The Late Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was a resident of Raghurajpur. He is known as one of the most prolific proponents of Odissi, a traditional Indian dance that originated in Odisha. There is also a dance studio in the village where students come to train in Gotipua, a unique, acrobatic dance form. Most students who learn Odissi first learn Gotipua. Many students who have trained at this dance school have gone on to participate in national dance festivals and public events on the national platform.
Raghurajpur is an incredible treasure trove of various art forms. If you do plan a visit, the ideal option would be to book one of the hotels in Puri and then travel via car to the village. Be prepared to spend at least a few hours here, because you just won’t be able to tear yourself away from the brightly painted walls and the welcoming people.