World Heritage Week: Visit The Art Village Of Raghurajpur, Odisha

This unique heritage crafts village near Puri in Odisha is an ideal destination for a little sojourn over this World Heritage Week
An example of the pattachitra form of art from Odisha
An example of the pattachitra form of art from Odisha

Neat rows of houses, their walls adorned with paintings, will greet you as soon as you enter verdant Raghurajpur village, about 10 km from Puri, Odisha's famous pilgrim and beach town. Even without asking, you will realize you have entered an artist's village where homes double up as workshops.

Once known as the keepers of Odisha's ancient pattachitra art, largely due to the late Jagannath Mohapatra (winner of the President of India's award in 1965) who lived here, today, the village houses artists practising various traditional arts.

The presiding deity of Puri, Lord Jagannath and his siblings go into seclusion for a fortnight prior to the Rathayatra festival, when the temple remains closed. In ancient times, the artists or the chitrakar would sell small handmade paintings of the idols to pilgrims who visited during this period.

Display of several handicrafts at Raghurajpur
Display of several handicrafts at RaghurajpurShutterstock

It is said that the pattachitra of Odisha dates back to the 12th century and has been passed from one generation to the next. The painting is done on specially stiffened seven layers of cloth cut into discs. Although synthetic colours may have replaced natural dyes from plants and minerals in many areas, traditional Raghurajpur artists prefer organic colours. Ganjifa playing cards or the Dashavatar playing cards of Odisha are also part of the pattachitra genre. These unique paintings, especially the playing cards, are on display in museums worldwide.

Another important art practised in Raghurajpur is palm-leaf painting. Delicate line drawings in black, sometimes with daubs of colours, are made on interlocked strips of palm leaves. Usually, each drawing is like a tapestry narrating a story. Apart from traditional paintings, the artists also produce souvenirs, such as, painted palm leaf bookmarks.

A rural artisan painting on a minutely detailed framed Pattachitra art
A rural artisan painting on a minutely detailed framed Pattachitra artShutterstock

In 2000, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) declared Raghurajpur a 'heritage village,' which has helped the artists explore other traditional art forms. Apart from pattachitra and palm leaf paintings, you will find artists making papier-mâché toys, masks, coconut crafts, wooden toys, etc. Both men and women work as artists. The artists are mostly friendly towards visitors and not averse to sharing details regarding the origin of the art or the techniques involved. Many families even invite visitors to their households. You may directly buy from the artists. You may also enjoy a lesson or two from the artists on separate payments.

While exploring the art village, you may also stop to pay respect to the memory of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the much awarded exponent of Odissi dance, who was born in Raghurajpur.


In Raghurajpur, accommodations are limited but unique. Heritage Villa Raghurajpur offers a comfortable stay with traditional decor, immersing you in the local culture.

Alternatively, many local families provide homestay experiences, allowing you to live with them, learn about their art, and savour home-cooked Odia cuisine.

If you prefer more extensive accommodation options, you can stay in nearby Puri, just a short drive away, and make day trips to Raghurajpur.

Remember that amenities might be more basic compared to urban areas. Still, the opportunity to experience the charm of a traditional Odia village is well worth it for art and culture enthusiasts.

Places To Visit Nearby

While Raghurajpur itself is a fascinating place to explore, there are several nearby attractions and places to visit in Odisha that you can include in your itinerary:

  1. Puri: Puri, located just 14 kilometres from Raghurajpur, is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus and famous for the Jagannath Temple. Apart from the temple, you can also visit Puri Beach and explore the vibrant markets and streets.

  2. Konark: Konark, often called the "Sun Temple City," is around 35 kilometres from Raghurajpur. The Konark Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its stunning architecture. The Chandrabhaga Beach nearby is also worth a visit.

  3. Chilika Lake: Chilika Lake, the largest coastal lagoon in India, is approximately 60 kilometres from Raghurajpur. It's a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. You can take a boat ride on the lake and visit the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary.

  4. Bhubaneswar: The capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, is about 60 kilometres from Raghurajpur. It's known for its ancient temples, including the Lingaraja and Mukteshwar Temple. The city also has museums, parks, and modern amenities.

  5. Dhauli: Dhauli, located around 50 kilometres from Raghurajpur, is a historical site where the Kalinga War occurred. It's known for its rock edicts and the Shanti Stupa, a symbol of peace and non-violence.

Getting There

Raghurajpur is only 10km by road from Puri, yet not on the popular tourist circuit. So you must book a car or an auto-rickshaw for travelling to and fro. The artists and their families are friendly but sensitive, too. So do get permission before entering any household or workshop. It is also advisable to take permission before taking photographs of people and products on display. If you are keen to buy directly from the artists, remember works of art have their own value and the price is set accordingly.

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