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Our ancestors have left us a rich cultural legacy that needs to be preserved if it has been inherited by our children!   There have been many efforts made by our seniors and contemporaries worth mentioning and subscribing.  One such institution is Kalakshetra Foundation.    Visualized and founded by the Dancer, Theosophist and choreographer, Rukumini Arunadale, this institute has gone from strength to strength since its inception in the year 1936.

Kalakshetra – The Academy reviving Indian Crafts and culture

Kalakshetra was set up with a vision “of imparting to the young the true spirit of Art, devoid of Vulgarity and Commercialism”.  Kala means art and Kshetra means place.  Kalakshetra Foundation is a school that imparts training in arts, dance and music to young ones who join their ranks with great enthusiasm and zeal.  The teachers are renowned Gurus – Masters in their field of art.

Kalakshetra has been recognized as an Institution of national importance through an Act by the Indian Government in the year 1994.


The academy is spread across serene and natural environs of 100 acres in midst of a chaotic Chennai Metropolis in Tamil Nadu.  There are many classrooms, an auditorium, a museum on Rukumani Arunadale, four libraries, Craft and research center with provision for weaving,  Guest rooms, Staff rooms and a hostel inside the campus.

The fields of Indian culture, which this academy concentrates on, are

kalakshetra photoPhoto by U.S. Consulate General Chennai

  • Bharatanatyam,
  • Traditional folk arts
  • Carnatic music- both vocal and instrumental
  • Traditional crafts
  • Textile design and heritage such as Kalamkari tye and dye unit.
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Other Visual arts

Artistic endeavors are carried in classrooms, shows in the auditorium lec-dems and dance productions on tours worldwide.  Some of the most famous dance production of Kalakshetra are Rama Pattabishekam, Kutrala Kuruvanji, Rukmini Kalyanam and Sabari Moksam.

See Also -   Chavittunatakam – Combining Dance and Drama

Special mention should be made of the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam.   It has been developed from the Devadasis style of dancing sans the erotic movements or Sringara Rasa.

kalakshetra photoPhoto by U.S. Consulate General Chennai

Notable Alumni

Some of the distinguished alumini of this 75 year old cultural institute are V.P.Dhananjayans, Leela Samson, Kamaladevi Chattopadya, Sanjukta Panigrahi, Balagopalan, Radha Burnier, C.V.Chandrasekhar, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Janardan and many more.

Notes for Students interested in taking this Indian Legacy forward

Here are some pointers if you are interested in joining Kalakshetra

  • There are two classes for two age groups 7 to 14 and 15 to 25.
  • Students can avail regular or part-time classes
  • Part-time classes are conducted on 3 weekdays between 4.30 to 5.30
  • Diploma and post diploma courses are offered in various fields.  These include courses in Ceramics, painting, photography and sculpting
  • The uniform for Boys is shirt and Dhoti and for the girls, it is Saree and blouse
  • The Institutions which are part of this foundation are:
  1.  Rukmini Devi College of fine arts
  2. Besant Arunadale Senior Secondary School
  3.  Besant Theosophical Higher Secondary School
  • The Foundation also has  Community Outreach programmes and exchange programmes for Indian and foreign nationals.  Immersion programmes are Intensive courses conducted over a period of 15 days for Beginners and experts.   The curriculum for these programs also includes a common class of Yoga, folk dance, Lec-Dems on dance theory and heritage.

Notes for Visitors

Visitors can take a guided tour or just stroll around the campus on their own.  They can enter the campus between 8.30a.m. to 11.30 a.m. Students Assemble under the famous  Banyan tree at 8.30 in the morning for prayers and commence their classes.

You can walk through these spots – Tagore hall, Vishnu statute, Ayyanar Shrine, Visual arts department and Padma Pushkarini.  You can also shop for products from inside the complex.    You can also watch classes in progress but take care not to distract the students.

See Also -   Kuchipudi

kalakshetra photoPhoto by U.S. Consulate General Chennai

Guides can take you on heritage walks in the same route on registering in advance.  A minimum of 5 people is mandatory for this.  Photography is not permitted.

Performances start at 6.30 and up to 8.30 in the evenings in the main auditorium.

Kalakshetra is hence a place of knowing as well as imbibing our Indian Art, heritage and culture.  If you are an art lover and if you happen to visit Chennai, donot miss the opportunity to visit this temple of art.  

Photo by vishwaant

Kalakshetra – Centre For Imbibing Indian Heritage And Culture

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