Shilparamam: Festive Time
If its neighbour is distinguished as a centre of excellence in IT education, Shilparamam, a contrast in time and substance to the Cyber Towers, is memorable as a unique achievement in reviving and preserving centuries-old handicrafts and folk forms of theatre and dance. On display at the crafts village is the colourful and magnificent artistry of the countryside in all its splendour. The setting is exquisitely scenic and serene, encompassing 50 acres of greenery, millenia-old rock formations and undulating landscape. The vast expanse of land of this beautiful village is a gift of the Andhra Pradesh government to the South Zone Cultural Centre.
The entire project is conceived as an endless, year-round festival of arts and crafts showcasing the talents and the skills of the rural folk from all parts of the country. You enter the village through a majestic gateway flanked by two life-size terracotta horses. In sections specially provided for them, you can see craftsmen chiselling raw wood into objects of everlasting value, sculpting wonders from stone, harnessing metal into stunning images of gods and goddesses and weaving magic in cotton, silk and gold thread. These live demonstrations of artisanship bring back to the visitor pictures of a bygone era of Dhaka muslin, Kondapalli toys, Bankura horses, gudda-guddis of Punjab, temple arts and a motley of Indian arts and crafts forms which have survived the assaults of both the industrial and cyber revolutions. In short, a visit to the village is an unforgettable spiritual experience for the visitor.
As one visitor remarked: "The village was conceived with an idea to create an environment for the preservation of traditional crafts. A festival celebrated at Shilparamam is a reincarnation of arts and crafts when artifacts, related functional skills and supportive traditions are presented in a manner connecting the boundaries between theatre, crafts, music, dance and poetry, each complementing the other."
Apart from demonstrating their skills, the craftsmen have set up shops, more than 450 of them, decorated in simple and rustic styles to sell the goods they make from textiles to artifacts and knick-knacks. The shops and most of the structures here are representative of rural aesthetics manifesting in thatched roofs, rangoli-carpeted floors and folk frescos and murals. You can buy textiles ranging from Tangail, Sambhalpur, Paithni, Kashmiri to Kanjeevaram, Dharmavaram, Tanjavur, Madurai, Peddapuram, Bandar, Guntur and other sarees. For the younger set, a wide collection of salwar kameezes, ghagaras, kurta pyjamas and dupattahs is available in unending variety of designs and patterns. All this is in your reach in a setting of rustic architecture, a centre-stage of cultures and a melting pot of traditions.
Among the men and women dedicated to a resurrection of the countrys centuries-old arts heritage can be found distinguished artisans who have won state and national awards. In one of the stalls, you can see a state award winner for ceramic painting and elsewhere a national award winner for Kota sarees. The father and grandfather of the artisan you see selling Bidriware are recipients of awards from the Karnataka government.
There is a breath-taking range of village theatre covering Tholu Bommalata, Burra Katha, Butta Bommalu, Puli Vesham and puppetry. There is an auditorium enriching the happiness of the visitor by featuring classical and folk music concerts, plays and magic shows. Shantiniketan's Subroto Basu has fashioned a rock garden here by blending his own rock collections with the natural and picturesque rock formations found in the village. There are lakes and inland waterways in the village flanked by lush green lawns on the one side and coconut groves on the other.You can pedal or paddle a boat on the lake. There are also places where the gourmet can taste ethnic food in traditional milieu.
Besides these thrills, the village organises special annual events like the festivals of arts and crafts in March, cultural shows at the time of Ugadi, Dasara and Sankranti. This is the most glorious time weatherwise in Hyderabad to visit the village and buy what you can and fancy, attend a music concert, see a dance recital and take a tour of the village through performances of several folk dance forms like Dappulu Dhimsa, Koya and Veeranatyam.