National Award Winner Artists of Raghurajpur Village of Odisha, India

Odisha is a treasure trove of traditional art forms, and several villages in the state are renowned for their artistic heritage. Here are some other famous villages in Odisha known for their traditional art forms:  Saura Tribal Village (Golamunda): Located in the Kalahandi district, Golamunda is known for the ancient and unique Saura tribal art form. The Saura artists paint vibrant geometric patterns and mythical figures on walls, floors, and cloth, reflecting their deep connection with nature and tribal folklore.

Raghurajpur consists of 140 households where over 350 artists are actively engaged in practicing the art of Patachitra. This quaint village has fostered the talents of 7 recipients of National Awards and more than 10 State Awardees. The community takes immense pride in their age-old traditions, which have been passed down since the 12th Century. In addition to the renowned Patachitra paintings, the village showcases an array of other art forms such as Palm Leaf etching, papier-mâché toys, masks, and cow dung toys.

Here is another artist from Raghurajpur village who is also national awardee. I had captured his name in my notes and misplaced somewhere. I I will try to find and add more about it.

The artists are not limited to a single medium; they demonstrate their expertise through delicate brushwork on Tussar silk, intricate stone and wood carvings, as well as captivating coconut paintings and adorned boxes. The artists' abodes themselves are a testament to their craft, with meticulously clean stone front porches that double as exhibition spaces and studios. While the majority of painters are men, women play a significant role in various stages of craft production. Women are involved in color preparation, crafting the Chitrapati (the canvas for the paintings), and even engaging in painting itself. Some women, including a State award-winning artist, both paint and pass on their skills to their daughters. Others contribute to coconut painting, papier-mâché work, cow dung toys, and wooden toys.

In Raghurajpur village, one can spend whole day seeing and exploring their artwork. Each small house is full of so many of them. Many times, we had to say no respectfully as we had to head to Puri on time due to other commitments. So if you have a complete day to spend in Raghurajpur, go ahead and do it. Specially people who appreciate art will simply love this surrounding. Doesn't really matter if you buy or not. Recommendation is that you buy something to support these Artists.

The enthusiasm for these traditional art forms is not confined by age or gender. The younger generation, irrespective of gender, is increasingly showing interest in preserving and perpetuating these cherished art forms. Notably, several artists from the village have ventured to countries like France, Japan, and England, where they have conducted workshops and shared their craft. The village further extends its artistic reach by welcoming international artists to reside within the village, facilitating an exchange of artistic knowledge and techniques through the Raghurajpur International Art and Cultural Exchange (RIA/CE) initiative.

The annual Pattachitra Mela in Raghurajpur is a vibrant celebration of art and culture that attracts a large number of visitors from near and far. Held in the village during a specific time of the year, the mela serves as a platform for the local artisans to showcase their exquisite Pattachitra paintings and other traditional crafts to a wider audience.  Showcasing Artistic Excellence: During the Pattachitra Mela, the artisans of Raghurajpur display their finest creations, ranging from intricate Pattachitra paintings to palm leaf engravings, Tussar silk paintings, stone carvings, wooden toys, and papier-mâché masks. The mela provides a unique opportunity for visitors to witness the diversity and exceptional artistry of the village's craftsmen.  Cultural Performances: Alongside the art exhibitions, the Pattachitra Mela is also known for its lively cultural performances. Traditional music, folk dances, and theatrical plays are organized to entertain the visitors. The performances often depict mythological stories and historical events, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Odisha.

Some of the notable Pattachitra Artists from Raghunathpur are :

- Raghunath Mohapatra: Renowned for his exceptional skills in Pattachitra and stone carving, Raghunath Mohapatra is one of the most celebrated artists from Raghurajpur. He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, one of India's highest civilian honors.

- Late Jagannath Mohapatra: Jagannath Mohapatra was a National Award-winning Pattachitra artist known for his intricate and vibrant paintings.

- Gajapati Narayan Deb: Apart from being the titular king of the erstwhile princely state of Puri, Gajapati Narayan Deb was also a skilled Pattachitra artist who contributed to the preservation of this art form.

- Sudarshan Pattanaik: Sudarshan Pattanaik, also known as Sudarsan Pattnaik, is a sand artist, not a Pattachitra artist per se, but he hails from Raghurajpur and has gained international recognition for his sand sculptures and artworks.

- Prasant Kumar Swain: Prasant Kumar Swain is a Pattachitra artist known for his innovative and contemporary approach to this traditional art form.

- Late Padmashree Shyamsundar Maharana: Shyamsundar Maharana was a respected artist who contributed significantly to the promotion and preservation of Pattachitra.

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While in Bhubaneshwar ( Odisha , we planned to drive to Konark Sun Temple and witness it's grandness & heritage.Temple has beautifully carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A lot of portions of temple are in ruins, although remained part is being maintained. Some work was happening when we visited the temple this month (july’2016).Sun Temple in Konark is 65 kilometers from Bhubaneshwar and 35 km from Puri.ASI maintains the temple and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Konark Sun temple is also featured in the list of 7 wonders in India, along with Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai, Dholavira of Gujarat, Red Fort of Delhi, Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan, Nalanda of Bihar and Khajuraho of MP.The name Konark comes from Sanskrit words - Kona and Ark. Europian sailors had 2 important temples in this part of India - Konark Sun Temple and Jaganath Temple in Puri, which are called Black Pagoda and White Padoga respectively.Konark Sun Temple has used iron beams for it’s structure. It was made to look like Surya-Rath (Chariot of Sun God). There are 12 carved stone wheels which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by a set of seven horses, which you see on entry gate of the temple. It followed popular Kalinga Architecture.Maintenance of Konark Sun Temple was in progress and it made us feel good about the care ASI is taking of these beautiful heritage buildings in India. Although it made us worry about the way these structures are restored. Plain stones without any carving are being added to give support to the structure. It's understandable that same carving might be difficult to achieve but some creative stuff can be done. More than structure, the craved stones are decaying with time and wondering if there is a good way to avoid it. I am sure ASI must thinking about all these things.Konark Sun Temple is one of the most visited tourist places in Odisha and it's considered as one of the most popular places to visit around Bubaneshwar. We didn't want to miss and happy that it was a nice experience to be there. Although the weather was not suitable, but we had fun.There are some interesting facts about the architecture of Konark Sun Temple. Original temple had one part of the compound, which was 70 mgr high. Now the highest structure of the Sun Temple is 30 meters high, which is essentially the audience hall along with smaller structures like Dance hall and Dining hall.Orissa Tourism website  lists few interesting details around history behind this temple.Surrounding of the Konark Sun Temple is pretty green and the weather made it greener for us.We had great time roaming around this beautiful campus of Konark Sun Temple, which has lot to surprise you and make you think how it was built many centuries ago. Here we tried to click family selfie with our DSLR  and it came out well :)These are the Ashvas (horses) of Surya Rath. Somehow the faces are different and I am not sure why. There must be some reason behind these shapes.A visit to Konark Sun Temple in Odisha - One of the 7 wonders in India


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