Dakshina Chitra is a village-museum created as a replica of ancient south Indian villages. It contains typical south Indian houses, streets, gardens, stages etc. The structures look alike those of south Indian rural dwellings and they are built with high quality materials. A tour inside Dakshina Chitra would take people to south Indian villages a few centuries back. A few hours spent inside Dakshina Chitra would give a great feeling of living in the past without modern amenities. The exhibits would drive people on a time machine to relive the simple lives of our ancestors.
Photo by sowri
Dakshina Chitra was founded by Madras Craft Foundation and opened to public view from 14th December 1996 onwards. Deborah Thiagarajan, an Indian-American historian leads the functioning of the museum. The museum was founded with the intention of preserving ancient south Indian culture and traditions. Apart from 4000+ artefacts and 18 heritage houses, the museum hosts a number of activities related to arts, crafts and stage performances.
Dakshina Chitra is located around 10 km south of Chennai city. It is located in the East Coast Road of Chennai that runs along the coast of Bay of Bengal. The place is called Muttukkadu which also hosts a boating lake and a number of resorts. The entire region is dedicated to tourists with an array of high class restaurants, resorts and tourist attractions that invite tourists from all over the world.
At the entrance, an entry pass is given for fee, along with a map. The map contains all information about the museum with 10-acre area. Guided by the map and its notes, people take a tour inside the museum by walk. Though the area is vast, interesting monuments make the trip worth walking around. There are galleries, shops and libraries with rich and rare information.
Dakshina Chitra is divided mainly into four sections, one section each for the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. All these four sections give a sense of live entry to these states. In each section, a number of houses and their traditional lifestyle is depicted very close to reality. The houses of potters, weavers, workers etc. are built along with their tools and properties. Apart from these houses, there are other features to note down such as streets, front steps and fences. A detailed note is placed in front of every structure to help people know more about them. The parts of these structures such as wood and other materials are brought from original such houses.
Apart from these exhibits, there are professional trainers who teach old practices such as pot making, drawing “kolam”, glass modelling, cloth weaving etc. These trainers are placed inside respective houses such as potter’s house, weaver’s house etc. They even teach to grind rice and other such activities which are completely forgotten long back. There are several photographs and videos explaining ancient practices in the fields of medicine, religion and agriculture. There is a shopper’s stop to buy memorabilia items made of pure craft materials.
Notable exhibits include a section explaining five regions of Tamil Nadu in detail. “Kurinji” stands for mountain region, its people, their food, deity and culture. “Mullai” depicts the life of forest people whereas “Marutham” depicts the life of people in agricultural area in detail. The life of fishermen and coastal population is explained in “Neithal” section and life of people in desert or barren land is portrayed under “Paalai”. There are rare objects such as grinding stones, household tools and ornaments.
Dakshina Chitra is a treasure of south Indian heritage and it is rightly preserved and maintained. It strives to carry forward India’s priceless tradition to forthcoming generations.