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Kerala Kalamandalam

Thrissur - Shoranur Road, Thrissur District, Cheruthuruthy, Kerala 679531, India

Art Centre

The centre for learning traditional art forms of Kerala.

Location of Kerala Kalamandalam

More about Kerala Kalamandalam

Kerala Kalamandalam (Kerala Art Centre) is a major centre for learning Indian performance arts, especially those that developed in the southern states of India with special emphasis on the art forms of Kerala. It is a respectable name in the field of Kerala arts, and since its inception in 1930 it has stayed focused on its goal of sustaining the art forms of the region.

History of Kalamandalam

During the early 1900’s, the three classical performance artforms of Kerala- Kathakali, Koodiyattam, and Mohiniyattam started facing an existential crisis as only a few upper class families in the state held the key to the art form. During 1927 realising the need to keep the art forms alive, the eminent Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon and his associate Mukunda Raja came forward to form a society called Kerala Kalamandalam to preserve and propagate these traditional art forms. 

In order to raise funds for the centre, they accepted donations from the public and conducted lotteries at the end of which the Kalamandalam was inaugurated in November 1930 at Kunnumkulam. It was later shifted to nearby Cheruthuruthy Town in 1933 near the banks of the river Bharathappuzha where the king of the Cochin Kingdom donated a land and building for it to function. 

Since the formation of Kerala State, Kalamandalam started functioning as a grant in aid institution under the Cultural Affairs Department of Government of Kerala and in 2006, it was accorded the status of Deemed University for Art and Culture by the Government of India. In 2010, the University Grants Commission of India has given ‘A’ category status for Kalamandalam, it is the only deemed university in Kerala accorded with the prestigious status.

The functioning of Kerala Kalamandalam

Kalamandalam primarily gives training in classical dances and theatrical forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattam, Thullal, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Nangiar Koothu. While a lot of these art forms are originated and performed mostly in Kerala, Kuchipudi, and Bharatanatyam they have their origins in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu respectively and are actively showcased in most of southern India. 

Besides the art forms, training for traditional orchestra called Panchavadyam is also given at the Kalamandalam. Panchavadyam involves an orchestra of five traditional instruments - timila, maddalam, ilathalam, and idakka of percussion category and kombu, a wind instrument. Training is also given to various traditional percussion instruments such as chenda, maddalam, and mizhavu. 

Kalamandalam is strictly a residential centre of learning. It follows the ancient ‘gurukula sampradayam’ existed in India in which the students stayed with the teachers to learn new skills. For performances, exhibitions and workshops held in Kalamandalam and outside, artist teachers and students participate together. The troupes from Kalamandalam has travelled widely in India and abroad for programmes, lecture demonstrations and workshops and they have represented the country in many international dance and theatre festivals. 

Exploring the centre of art

The Kalamandalam and its surroundings reflect the simple and pure atmosphere in which the arts have survived for centuries. The complex has a traditional temple theatre called Koothambalam which is the only one in Kerala that is built outside a temple complex. It is where all the performances are carried out. 

Kalamandalam is a great place to get insights into the arts and culture of Kerala. Visitors are welcome on all working days but the entry is only till 12.30 PM.  Since Kalamandalam is an educational institution, they have many non-working days. The centre will be closed on public holidays, exam seasons, summer vacations, Onam and Christmas holidays. Before visiting, its highly recommended to contact them to get the informations (+91 4884 262418, +91 4884 262526).

The Kalamandalam also has a designed structured group tour programme for visitors called ‘A day with the masters’  during which the visitors will be given access to the temple theatre, the dances, acting, instruments and music classes, art gallery and other venues. The visit is done while the actual classes are being carried out.

Getting to Kalamandalam by public transportation

The Kalamandalam is situated at Cheruthuruthy, in Thrissur District of Kerala State in Southern India. It is 30 km from Thrissur City and 7 km from the nearby town Shoranur. There are buses from both these location to Cheruthuruthy. Nearest major railway station too is in Shoranur which is connected to most other parts of the state and the country.