When you enter any of the hotels in Puri, the first thing your eyes will land on is traditional Pattachitra paintings of Lord Jagannath with his siblings Balaram and Subhadra. Most of these paintings come from a tiny artisan village called Raghurajpur.
Raghurajpur is a heritage crafts village on the banks of the Bhargavi river in Puri district of India, well known for producing some of the finest Pattachitra artworks in the country. Pattachitra is a traditional form of cloth-based scroll painting based in the Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal.
This art form is known for its intricate minutiae and has mostly mythological narratives and folktales inscribed in the paintings. However, with changing times along with the growing demand for this art, artists have also started making tribal paintings that feature their everyday lives.
Apart from that, the village is also home to crafts like tussar silk paintings, palm leaf engraving, stone carving, wooden and paper mâché toys & masks.
Raghurajpur also became the only place where the traditional decoration called Patas used under the throne of Lord Jagannath and on his three chariots during the annual festival of Rath Yatra in Puri.
The Artisan village
Surrounded by groves of coconut, palm, mango and jack fruit, the main village has two streets with over 120 houses decorated with murals of everyday life or Gods, where many generations of Patta painters reside and work on their artworks. It is an all-hands-on-deck situation for these artists. The women in a chitrakar family prepare the glue, the canvas and help out in filling the borders, while the master painter, usually a male, draws the initial sketch and gives the final touches to the painting.
The clothing is coated with a mixture of chalk and glue made from tamarind seeds to prepare the canvas of the painting. Then it is rubbed using two different stones after which the cloth is dried. The mixture of glue and chalk gives the cloth’s surface a leathery texture on which the artists paint with vegetable, earth or stone colors.
The original Pattachitra paintings are made using 100% natural colors but with changing times, more artists are opting to use acrylic colors readily available at the stores.
A single Pattachitra painting can take at least five to fifteen days, while some even take months to complete. It all depends on the level of intricacy and size of the painting. However, it takes years of practice, dedication and skill for an artisan to create a flawless and magnificent piece.
Upon reaching the village, artists will invite you into their houses and diligently show their artworks for sale. Many of the artists also go to different exhibitions to showcase their artworks. The price of the Pattachitra paintings varies according to the size, level of the intricacy of the work and time taken to complete it.
In the year of 2000, after a two-year research and documentation project by INTACH, the village was chosen to be developed as the state’s first heritage crafts village. Soon after that, the village started to attract both domestics and foreign tourists through its artworks. Heritage walks explaining the different types of paintings and crafts done by its residents have also started to provide more exposure to the tourists.
How to reach Raghurajpur?
The nearest airport is in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Odisha. And the nearest railway station is in Puri, which is connected by a frequent number of trains from Kolkata.
Raghurajpur is located off Puri Bhubaneshwar highway, on NH-316, near Chandanpur, which 14 km from Puri and roughly 60 km from Bhubaneshwar. You could easily hop on an auto-rickshaw or rent a cab to reach Raghurajpur from Puri or Bhubaneshwar. Take a right turn from Chandanpur market and drive straight for 1.5 km.
Currently, the village welcomes travelers but doesn’t have any stay options. So it is better explored as a day trip from Puri.
Raghurajpur is a great place for art enthusiasts and culture lovers. Today, Raghurajpur has also become the venue of the annual Basant Utsav – Parampara Raghurajpur (Spring Festival), which was first organized in 1993 under the guidance of the State Tourism Department and Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata. It’s held in the month of February or March and is a crowd puller.
Not very long ago, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Raghurajpur and selected an exquisite Pattachitra painting of a ‘Tree of Life’ that he decided to gift to the then French President Francois Hollande during his diplomatic tour of France and Germany in 2015.
The design of the bountiful tree is different than the regular paintings and took inspirations from the Nabakalebara 2015 celebrations in Puri. The ‘Tree of Life’ painting which is currently in a library in Germany represents the series of events that lead to the Nabakalebara, an event that marks the birth and death of Lord Jagannath.
Raghurajpur is not only known for its arts and crafts but is also famous for its traditional dance form, Gotipua, a precursor of the classical dance form called Odissi. In fact, it is where the renowned Gotipua dancer Kelucharan Mohapatra was born and trained.
Have you visited Raghurajpur before? Share your experiences in the comments below. If you liked reading this post, please share it with your friends and family! While you are at it, connect with me on Facebook and Instagram for more of my travel stories.
16 thoughts on “A Glimpse into the Artworks of Raghurajpur Village in Odisha”
Paula January 9, 2020
I have never been to India but it is one of those countries that are really fascinating! Especially those bright colors makes me want to visit it even more!
Elsa January 9, 2020
Oh, wow! What an intricate, colorful work of art! I want to witness one someday!
adventuresfromwhereyouwanttobe January 9, 2020
The artwork is amazing, the details are wonderful. The palm leaf engraving is exquisite
Naomi January 10, 2020
I love the photos! Going to save this post for when I plan my trip to India!
Kate January 10, 2020
While I myself am terrible at crafts of any kind, I love collecting items from skilled locals on my travels. So Raghurajpur looks like the perfect village to find handcrafted artifacts. And I love the incorporation of myths and folktales into the art so there’s always a story to go with the piece!
Epepa Travel Blog January 10, 2020
I really like such places full of art and I would like to visit Raghurajpur Village. All these colors and designs are delightful! There is probably no better souvenir from the trip than something that is handmade and therefore unique.
ANITA January 10, 2020
This is trully valable post as it’s not another of what to see in Rajastan. I really appreciate culture and heritage and I was happy to read about pieces of arts there. I saw just a small part of this state but looking forward to see more next time.
Jas January 11, 2020
I love looking at local art when I travel and you’ve definitely piqued my interest with Raghurajpur. Murals are one of my favorite forms of art and I would for sure love to see the ones on those houses. Thanks for putting this heritage village on my radar!
madhu sharma January 11, 2020
Wow the art work looks really amazing . Would love to visit sometime
Rowena January 11, 2020
This is so cool! I love discovering new cultural arts like this. Thanks for sharing!
Amrita January 13, 2020
Patachitras of Raghurajpur is simply amazing. The village is also such a beautiful place. I had been there last year and was totally overwhelmed at the hospitality of the villagers there. I am glad this place is now getting its due recognition and people visiting Puri are now enquiring and visiting about the place.
Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions January 14, 2020
It is always a joy to read about Indian fine arts because the detail are often so awe-inspiring. I could totally see why a single Pattachitra could take days, weeks, or months to complete. But the overall effect is unlike any other type of art I’ve come across. I’d love to visit Raghurajpur someday to see these artists in action. Thanks for sharing!
Shane January 16, 2020
Such neat works of art! I am a sucker for bright and bold colors and would definitely love this style of art in my home. I think it is neat that the pieces all hold a story – whether past, mythical or present. Makes them all the more symbolic and special!
Vaisakhi Mishra August 15, 2020
I absolutely loved Raghurajpur and would recommend anyone visiting Odisha to visit this village for sure! Being from Odisha, I always knew of pattachitra and also had mani talapatra chitra at my place, but never knew about the hard work that goes into making the colours and the art. Visiting this place was an eye opener and you have shared the details of the same aptly! Loved this post. Brought back memories of my visit 😀
Samantha August 16, 2020
I absolutely love this post! Odisha is at the top of places I want to visit in India so I’ll definitely be adding this unique village to my plans there 😀
Anwesha Guha August 16, 2020
I am glad, Samantha, you loved this post. Hope you make it to Odisha soon.