Weather :

Timings : 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : Indians: INR 1000,
Foreign Tourists: INR 1292

Kerala Kalamandalam, Thrissur Overview

Kerala Kalamandalam, situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy in Chelakkara of Thrissur District on the banks of the Bharathapuzha River is a Deemed University of Arts and Culture in Kerala. Established as a major centre for revival and uplifting of traditional performing art forms, especially those with their roots in South India. Visitors can not only look around the place and take in its ethereal natural and man-made beauty but also converse with the masters and students and take snapshots of all the lovely memories. It is not allowed to strike up a conversation with a practising or performing student as it is considered as an insult to the art form. However, the staff will guide you along every detail of the culture you want to know.

The institute is devoted towards the preservation of classical Indian dance forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kudiyattam, Thullal, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Nangiar Koothu, besides the traditional orchestra called Panchavadyam and instruments like Chenda, Maddalam, Mridangam and Mizhavu. It was established with a vision in mind of the founders that the institution will bring forth and uphold over the time the values these forms of art.

Kerala Kalamandalam is a place of education in these art forms and training is imparted to those interested with utmost sincerity and authenticity. Though a very limited number of people is allowed inside this hallowed establishment, those who do visit stay witness to an enriching experience of true, unadulterated Indian classical art forms of music and dance.

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History and Foundation of Kerala Kalamandalam

During a time when the traditional South-Indian art forms were facing a danger of obsolescence and extinction because of the advent of English colonial culture, an art enthusiast and Malayalam poet, Vallathol Narayana Menon decided to make an effort to save the art forms. With the help of other enthusiasts like Mukundaraja, he formed a society to work towards revival and unhindered practice of the traditional art forms and named it Kerala Kalamandalam. The founders solicited fund from the public by arranging shows with eminent artists and also by organising a lottery.

Finally, in November 1930, the society found a home at Kunnamkulam, Kakkad but later, thanks to the benevolence of the Maharaja of Cochin, they were donated a land and building and was shifted permanently to the current location in Cheruthuruthy. Vallathol decided to make his small effort into a large university after a brief meeting with Nobel Laureate Bengali wordsmith Rabindranath Tagore and visiting his Viswa Bharti in Shantiniketan. Fulfilling his dream, the institute is now a 'Deemed University for Art and Culture' as declared by the government.

Architecture of Kerala Kalamandalam

The structure of Kalamandalam reflects the inherent culture of Kerala and the very rustic environment in which the art forms have their roots. The dance room, or as colloquially called - Natyagriha is mainly made of teak and rosewood. Some of the pillars are built in dark granite and those are inscribed with the one hundred and eight dancing poses of Nataraj. The old campus has the tomb mausoleum of the founder Vallathol Narayana Menon, called Vallathol Samadhi.

The main building in the old campus is now a portrait gallery of dancers and artists on and off performance. Koothambalam is the traditional dance theatre at Kalamandalam with four wooden pillars bearing its weight. The three main parts of the structure are the aniyara - the green room, the rangam - the stage and the audience hall and the mridanga-patha - where the mridanga drum is kept.

Things To Do at Kerala Kalamandalam

Tourists are taken on a half-a-day trip across the entire premises of the university to experience first-hand the rich performing arts culture that God's own country holds. You can witness the masters and the students in the ongoing classes and see the dancers and artists devoted to their art. The staffs of the Kalamandalam, who acts as the guide, will explain to you the history, significance and sometimes the meaning behind the poses or mudras a dancer is performing. All of them have interesting and significant meaning, as these age-old dance forms are known to yield spiritual connection with the body, mind and soul - much like yoga.

Tourists can also visit the Vallathol Samadhi and the art gallery to see the different gears and costumes that have been used in the dance forms over the years. Photographers can take pictures of all the cultural and traditional things happening around, but it is recommended to always ask a performer before clicking him or her personally.

Kerala Kalamandalam Tour

Every day, 30 people are allowed inside for the trip, divided into 3 batches of 10 people each. The tour takes the entire time period of 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Best Time To Visit Kerala Kalamandalam

The institution remains closed during the summer holidays in April-May, Onam holidays in September and the winter holidays in December. Otherwise, any time of the day is suitable for visiting. There is no fear of crowd since the number of people taken every day is limited, but getting a ticket for weekends is tough. If you are a tourist, keep a weekday free for this. Also, the place remains closed for tourists during exams, so it is better to make a call before setting off for the Kalamandalam.

Tips For Visiting Kerala Kalamandalam

1. Maintain respectful quietness in the premises as it is a Gurukul and a place of worship for those who devote their life to their art.
2. Wear easy to wear, slip-on shoes because you might have to take them off a lot.
3. You can watch an ongoing class, but never disturb the students or teachers while they are at it.
Remember to book your tour as early as possible since the number of slots per day is only 30 and this stays in demand.

How To Reach Kerala Kalamandalam

Kerala Kalamandalam is situated along the Thrissur-Shoranur Highway. From the Thrissur town, Kalamandalam is 32 km to the north. Shoranur is the town closest to the village. Shoranur Junction, the central railway station is only 3 km away from Kalamandalam, from where you can take an auto rickshaw. From any other nearby destinations, a hired car or a cab will take you to the institution.

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