Raghurajpur: A Heritage Art and Cultural town of Odisha

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Raghurajpur- A heritage crafts village in Odisha, which was our next destination to cover. The driveway to this Hamlet was scenic due to its blissful setting among tropical trees and grooves of the coconut, palm, and paddy fields laced with betel vines. The village became the state’s first heritage village for its traditional art form, Pattachitra, in 2000. It was acquired by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), which dedicatedly conserves and protects India’s natural and cultural heritage. Apart from being a master in Pattachitra, this small town is also the birthplace of the finest Odissi exponent Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Way to Heritage Raghurajpur Village


My car drove on the narrow village road lined with two neat rows of houses on either side. The village is approximately 1.5 km from Chandanpur. Due to COVID, I was unsure if the towns were open, so I took a risk. Luckily, along the main road, we met a local who guided us to Anil Kumar Swain’s artisan house. 

Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Entrance to the village
Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Village temple

Raghurajpur is a small town located on the southern banks of river Bhargavi. Upon going into the Raghurajpur village, we parked our car near the village temple and met Anil. His studio was nearby the temple. He greeted us warmly, and I guess I was the first tourist of the day, even after the COVID unlock 5.0. I accompanied the artist to his tiny studio; upon entering, I saw painted balls hanging. These painted balls were betel nuts and coconuts with an image of Lord Jagannath of Puri. The colours and the detailed paintings spellbound me.

Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Studio of Anil Swain

Raghurajpur village has over 120 houses decorated with mural paintings, where families raise the artistic legacy of their ancestors. Anil Swain himself has been bringing this legacy past six generations, and his father was an award-winning artist in Pattachitra artwork. He was somewhat amused by my interest & question about the art; hence, he detailed the process. Anil explained this art form dates back to 5th BC and is called Pattachitra- Patta means cloth & Chitra means picture. And the subjects of traditional Pattachitra are devoted to Lord Krishna and folk tales from Ramayana and Mahabharata.


Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Artisan House

Anil further explained the procedure begins with the making of Patta; a specific gum is created with ground tamarind seeds (soaked in hot water before grinding) and applied on a washed and dried piece of cloth. This gummy paste is spread over the fabric, and then the same size and dimensions material are placed over it before the glue dries up. Once the gum dries, a mixture of the tamarind gum mixed with powdered white stone (conch shells used here) is applied on both sides of the cloth. It’s left to dry till it gets complicated. Then, it’s polished with a little pebble to give it a smooth leathery finish.


Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village

Once the Patta is ready, intricate pictures of various gods, goddesses, and mythological scenes with ornamentation of flowers, trees and animals are then painted. The colours prepared using natural ingredients are mainly white, red, yellow, blue, green and black. The soot of burning lamps and coconut shells for black and white is prepared from the powder of conch shells, while the shades and hues of red, yellow, blue and green are obtained from plant leaves, flower petals, fruits, ground stones, etc.

Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Natural Colours

Another famous form of art that Anil introduced to us was Palm Leaf Engraving art, which in the Oriya language is called Tala Pattachitra. The paintings are done on palm leaf strips where a rectangular or square canvas and rows of same-size panels of palm leaves are sewn together lengthwise with a thread passing through the middle of each of them. Then the images are sketched on them, on which Kohl paste, cooked with the soot from burning wick, is rubbed one strip at a time. Afterwards, the water is spread over it to wash off excess colours. Later the palm leaf is wiped dry. Also, these panels can be folded into a compact form. I was fascinated looking at the black-and-white painting, as the time and effort were worthy to notice.

Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Tal PattaChitra

The effort and enthusiasm in describing the art were incredible; there was a sense of pride. Anil stated the art price varies, starting as low as Rs 400 & goes up to 5lac. They exhibit at handicraft exhibitions and cultural fairs regularly held across the nation. They also export the articles nationally as well as Internationally. The demand is high as its only not a part of religious worship anymore. Instead, it has slowly gone on to grace the walls of homes, hotels, restaurants, etc. 

Mythological Painting on Pattachitra

Hence, I purchased a beautiful Pattachittra with Devi Durga pictured on it, costing me Rs2500. At the same time, my mom bought a Tala Pattachitra, which cost Rs 1800. There were other particulars, too, like a painted kettle, pen stand, and bottle on which we bargained a little bit. The artisan gifted me a  few bookmarks and a betel nut painting of Jagannath souvenir. I spent over an hour gaping at his work & listening about the art form. It’s pretty addictive.

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I thanked Anil and bid him farewell, and then I got a tour of this peaceful artistic Raghurajpur village. While searching the town, I walked up to the Gotipua Gurukul Academy, where the traditional dance form of Gotipua is taught. The trainees of this dance academy have given performances at numerous cultural events in India and abroad. Due to COVID, the training was closed. I was happy with my newly acquired knowledge about the heritage village & Odissi dance form, so I took a leave.

Gotipua Gurukul Academy
Odisha Travel II: Konark and Heritage Raghurajpur Village
Gotipua Dance form

The daytime was spent well, exploring the less explored. It was late evening by the time we got to our hotel. The clouds began to paint the sky black as the rain was about to hit the earth when a thought came to me – “Exploration is the essence of the human spirit”. And my today’s day was entirely about the essence of the exploration.”

How to Reach 

By Air: 

The nearest airport is the Bhubaneshwar airport- Biju Patnaik. Puri is nearly 64km from the airport. Most metros are well connected with Bhubaneshwar airport. So you can book a cab or take the buses for Konark as the roads are well combined.

By Rail:

Konark does not have any railway station; the closest railway station is Bhuwaneshwar and Puri. The Bhubaneswar railway station is 61.7 km from Konark, while the one in Puri is 35.3 km away, and both direct train services are available from many cities in India. So you can book a cab or take the buses for Konark as the roads are well connected. 

By Road.

Several buses run by  OTDC connect Konark to other towns and cities within Odisha. There are private buses & Volvo that ply from Puri & Bhubaneshwar at regular intervals.



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