Visit these fascinating artist villages in India

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Ahead of Independence Day, Indian Link brings you India that is off the usual tourist map, and away from the beaten track

ARTIST VILLAGES

Andretta
Founded by Irish woman Norah Richards in 1935, Andretta, Andretta has remained a haven for theatre artists, potters and other creative types. Richards had invited master potter Gurucharan Singh from Delhi to shift to Andretta. Today, his son Mansimran ‘Mini’ Singh and his wife Mary run 3-week-long residential programs here for serious students. Its theatre scene has had a revival too.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Throughout the year

STAY: The Andretta pottery centre offers homestays

GETTING THERE: Take an overnight Deluxe bus from ISBT Delhi to Palampur, 13 km from Andretta.

Cholamandal
It is touted to be India’s largest self-supporting artist village and has been around for over four decades. It has over 20 resident painters and sculptors, who live as a community and pool their skills. Every single thing in the village – right from the kitchen walls to their art galleries – was built by the artists inhabiting it. It has a permanent exhibition which includes paintings, sketches, terra-cotta, stone, metal sculptures, batiks and handicraft.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: December to February

STAY: There is a guest house in the village, but a place is not guaranteed. A day trip from Chennai is recommended.

GETTING THERE: Chennai is the nearest airport, about 15 km away.

Bishnupur
The terra-cotta Bankura horse is often used as shorthand for Indian handicraft, and the credit for that goes to Bishnupur. This village’s craft developed as much as it did because of the lack of stone in the area. The village is equally well-known for its handwoven Baluchari silk sarees with intricate designs.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: October to April

STAY: There are a few guest houses and hotels in the village

GETTING THERE: The nearest airport is Kolkata, 155km away. Buses and trains run from Kolkata to Bishnupur.

Saputara
Apart from being one of the very few hill stations in the state of Gujarat, Saputara is committed to tribal art and all residents living there are taught how to draw, paint and craft. Visitors are encouraged to try their hand at some art or craft.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: October to February

STAY: There are many hotels and guest houses in the village

GETTING THERE: Railway is the best mode. The Waghai railway station at Billimora – well-connected to Mumbai and Ahmedabad – is the nearest railhead, about 50km away. From here, hire a taxi or hop on to a bus.

Raghurajpur
Even in today’s times, this village has kept the art of writing on scrolls, known as Patachitra, alive. But the villagers are experts in other art forms such as stone craft, cow dung toys, filigree, bell metal work, and terra cotta. They also write poetry and have their own dance troupe.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: October to February

STAY: Many hotels in Puri, 12km away

GETTING THERE: Nearest airport is Bhubaneswar (50km away). Nearest railway station and major town is Puri.