Situated on the southern bank of river Bhargavi and surrounded by coconut, palm, mango, jackfruit groves and other tropical trees, Raghurajpur, a small village in Puri district of Orissa, occupies a unique place in the cultural map of India. The village is inhabited by artisans producing sheer poetry on pieces of treated cloth, dried palm leaf or paper.
Besides producing these unique works of art, this village has a living tradition of performing art known as Gotipua, the earlier form of Odissi. Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra, an exponent of Odissi dance, was born in this village and had his early trainings in Gotipua tradition here. Now a Gotipua Gurukul Dance School has been established here under the guidance of Guru Maguni Charan Das. The trainees of this school present their performances in different cultural events, in India and abroad.
The government of India has selected Raghurajpur village for the promotion or rural tourism in the country as a part of a program to highlight tourism potential of villages. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) takes an active part in this initiative as part of it’s Endogenous Tourism Project (ETP).
all images © Sephi Bergerson / UNDP India
A man walks past a temple in the middle of the artists village of Raghurajpur in Puri district Orissa. The village runs from east to west with houses arranged in two neat rows, facing each other. At the centre, runs a line of small temples and the lone Bhagabat Tungi, the community meeting place of the villagers. The temples are dedicated to the lords, Radha Mohan, Gopinath, Raghunath, Laxminarayan, Gouranga, and to the village goddess, Bhuasuni.
Drawings on a house wall in the artists village of Raghurajpur in Puri district Orissa. Raghurajpur was selected to revive the ancient wall paintings of Orissa. The work has already been completed and now the village looks like a living museum of paintings.
A practice performance of the junior level Gotipua dancers at Gotipua Gurukul, a part of UNDP’s ETP in village Raghurajpur, Orissa.
Guruji Maguni Das (99) winner of the Padmashree award 2004 is the Gotipua Gurukul’s Orissi dance Guru.
Dyes on the floor of an artist studio, Raghurajpur, Orissa.
An artist at work. Raghurajpur village, Orissa. each family is engaged in one craft or another. There are 103 households having 311 artisans in the village. Some of them are winners of National Awards. One comes across the best tradition of Orissan paintings and some of the finest pieces of work in this village.
Daily life in the artists village of Raghurajpur in Puri district Orissa.
An artist showcasing his creation. Raghurajpur village, Orissa.