If you are interested in the history and the culture of India, the dance form of Kuchipudi shouldn’t be an unknown word. But not everyone might be aware of the fact that the Dance form got its name from the village it originated in i.e, “Kuchipudi Village” in Andhra Pradesh, where the brahmins practised this traditional dance art form.
About Kuchipudi Village
Kuchipudi is a tiny village in Movva Mandal which is situated in the Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi village represents the perfect depiction of the Kuchipudi Dance art form and the astonishing range of culture and tradition that India bestows upon itself.
Kuchipudi Village is the cultural heritage that’s over 300 years old and is now recognized as a smart heritage village. Even to date, a lot of dancers from all over the world visit Kuchipudi village to learn the art and dance form of Kuchipudi in dept.
Kuchipudi village is often also referred to as the dance village of India.
There are multiple things that one can explore around as it is a treat for all the art and history lovers. The rendition of the amazing form of dance, the famous dance institutes, the temple and a lot of friendly appearances that are available there do make it worth the visit.
I have seen Kuchipudi dance performances growing up, and I have always adorned the dance form through all these years. So, when it came down to the opportunity to visit the place where it originated from, I couldn’t hold myself back. I recently visited and also had the luck of meeting some eminent personalities and have collected an experience that I am definitely going to cherish forever.
Given that I have such a fantastic experience, I thought I would share the same with my readers as well. So, buckle up people.
How to Reach Kuchipudi?
Owing to the fact that the Village is located very remotely and in the interior parts of Andhra Pradesh, it isn’t surprising that it doesn’t have any sort of railway station or airports of its own.
Reaching Kuchipudi By Train
The nearest railway station is machlipatnam around 24kms away. You can reach from Machilipatnam to Kuchipudi by road thereafter. However, Vijayawada Junction is better connected to all routes in India, which is around 50kms away from Kuchipudi.
Reaching Kuchipudi by Air
The nearest airport is the Vijayawada airport, around 50kms away from Kuchipudi. For people arriving Internationally, Hyderbad airport might be more connected, around 300kms away. You can take a cab/ taxi from the airport to take you to the village of Kuchipudi.
Reaching Kuchipudi by Bus via Road
Kuchipudi can be reached via buses easily from nearby towns. Buses from Vijayawada to Kuchipudi are also available from the central bus stand at Vijayawada.
Vijayawada to Kuchipudi Village by Road
Kuchipudi village is located around 50 km away from Vijayawada, making it perfect for a road trip.
The lush greenery on both sides and the smell of soil were infiltrating my senses, and I couldn’t stop myself from taking a halt and just taking in the view at specific points throughout the ride. It took me 1 hour approx to reach my destination, and every part of the journey was worth it.
History of the Kuchipudi village
Now that I shared the basics around how to reach there, the next thing that I would like to share is a little about the history of the place.
If history is to be believed, the village was priorly named as Kuchelapuram or Kuchilapuri. It gets it Sanskrit derivation of the name from Kusilava-Puram which means Bards and Dancers. The place is believed to be the originating spot for the dance form and attracts quite a good chunk of tourists every year to celebrate this form of art.
It is also believed that several archaeologists have been able to extract a number of Buddhist statues in ruins around this place in several dance forms. It isn’t a very likely thing to witness Buddhist monks indulge in dancing, but it is believed to be the power of this place that imposes influences on them as well.
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History of this village suggests that every household in this place has at least one performer. Every person around is believed to know the dance form, and it is their fathers who teach them the same.
Priorly, it was only the male dancers who performed Kuchipudi, but things have gradually changed over time. The male dancers did dress up as women and play the character they were dressed as. I visited one of the famous institutes there named as the Akhila Bharata Kuchipudi Natya Kala Mandali, and the experience was one of a kind.
Legends believe that it was Vedanta Lakhsmi Narayana Sastri who lived during the 20th CE was the one who brought along this dance form into the forefront. He was the first artist who introduced this form of dance to the women and is now performed by women as well. The kind of dance was first made accessible to the Brahmin families and was later opened up for everyone to learn.
Apart from visiting some of the popular Kuchipudi dance institutes and revelling in the beautiful architecture of the buildings there, one of the experiences that I am going to cherish forever was meeting the founder secretary of Akhila Bharata Kuchipudi Natya Kala Mandali, Mr Pasumarthy Kesava Prasad.
I first handedly saw him imparting lessons to some of the small kids in his classes and the experience there was very enriching and one of a kind.
He is now 68 years old and has been doing this for several decades which itself was a very riveting thing to hear. I love when people keep their authenticity intact and never forget their roots, and he is one of them. He is expanding his knowledge and leaving behind his legacy, much like how his Guruji did with him.
Heres a glimpse of the places, the conversation we had & the dance
Places to visit in Kuchipudi Village & Tourist spots
Apart from the immaculate experience with Mr Prasad, I didn’t want my trip to be shortlived, which was why I explored the places around too. Even though the Kuchipudi Village is not very big and vast, there are a few places that are worthy of a visit.
You can easily explore several things around and if possible, talk and interact with the locals to know more about the place, as I did.
The language did pose as a barrier because I am not familiar with Telugu much, but overall, you can make do because people do speak English and Hindi to an extent.
I would suggest just exploring the village first because you get to know and learn about a lot of things in the village itself.
1. Sri Siddhendra Yogi Kuchipudi Kala Peetham
The Sri Siddhendra Yogi Kuchipudi Kala Peetham is a must-visit while you are there. It is the most popular campus of Kuchipudi dance that you just can’t miss out on. There is a lot about this place that fascinated me. This is one of the 8th schools of Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, and it is the only government running dance academy. You can trace the origination of the Kuchipudi dance forms arts and variations here. At the entrance, you will witness an idol in black, which is the Mother of Telugu, India.
Inside the place, you can actually feel the vibe of dance. Everything co-ordinates amazingly with the intention that it is built for. The Nataraja welcomes everyone standing there in bronze. There is also the idol of Sri Siddhendra Yogi, known to be the father of the dance form, Kuchipudi.
The land on which the dance academy is standing was donated by the Quli Qutu Shah as he was far beyond impressed by the dance performance. However, the present building is new with proper hostels and better facilities for the students who come here to learn Kuchipudi from the masters.
Bhama Kalapam, the dance drama
This is one interesting that I think all of us need to know. Bhama Kalapam is the dance drama which was written by Sri Siddhendra Yogi himself. Bhama is taken from the name of Satyabhama, one of the eight wives of Lord Krishna. The story talks about the Satyabhama cravings of uniting with Lord Krishna. But, she can’t unite unless she is getting rid of attachments, desire, lust, and greed.
The story has metaphorical elements, and the entire story is basically the story of human life (Jeevatama) and the Divine (Paramatma. It talks about the human desire of seeking God and the struggle of reaching him and merging with him facing the obstacles.
This dance drama has the credit of the most performed dance drama in Kuchipudi till date.
A few blocks away, a statue of Siddhendra Yogi is located which is worshipped by the people of the village.
2. Sri Bala Tripura Sundari Sametha Ramalingeswara Swamy temple
Another in the list is the Sri Bala Tripura Sundari Sametha Ramalingeswara temple which is small and painted in yellow with a Gopuram. Here resides the deity of Lord Shiva, who is the supreme symbol of dance and his Nataraja pose, which he takes to perform dance is evident in Hindu Mythology. You will find his idol in Nataraja pose in every single dance academy or class and in the house of every dancer.
He resides here as Sri Ramaligeswara Swamy with his consort Sri Bala Tripura Sundari Devi. The temple is one of the most famous in the area and in the region. Every year, the temple celebrated Shivarthi festival. To attend this festival, many devotees come here. On this day, the dancers of Kuchipudi perform dance and seek his blessings.
Timings: 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
3. A Scenic Lake(around 4 kilometres away)
While making my way to Bhatlapenumarru, I witnessed this stunning beautiful lake and a treat to eyes. If you ever go around, make sure to visit the place.
4. Dancing Institutes:
There are a few other dancing institutes available there as well, where you can witness some of the authentic Kuchipudi dance classes. The beats and the harmony along with the kind of flow in the body just add to the overall experience that you get just by watching it.
If possible, spend your mornings at one of the local’s because the hospitality there is amazing. People are very warm and welcoming and something that you just can’t match up with the bland taste of the hotels, even if it’s the five-star hotels.
Visiting the wide range of dance schools available there is enough to provide you with an experience of like that of a museum if you want to know more about the dance form.
The Natya Pushakarini is yet another one of the must-visits that you should explore. The cuisine there is immaculate as well, so, that is an added bonus.
Places to Visit Nearby Kuchipudi Village
Coming onto the tourist spots around, the best things to explore are the towns which are located in the close vicinity of this village. Some of the most popular ones include Machlipatnam, Vijayawada, Konaseema, Amravathi, and Guntur.
These towns do have the extrapolation of the cultural significance of the village, and you can actually feel the same there as well.
Why imbibing tourism in Kuchipudi Village is important?
While I did enjoy my experience staying and roaming around the place, the one thing that did strike my heart was the struggle that the families endure on a daily basis.
The village is predominantly home to around 12-13 families in total, and each of the family has a link to the dance form, either in them being a dancer or a teacher. The worst part is the fact that the majority of us common people don’t even know for a fact that the dance form finds its roots in this village only.
People here are struggling to make ends meet but have never once complained in their life because they find peach in even the smallest things that they have.
When I visited the village and took a tour around, it made my heart soar on how talented these people were but how limited their resources were. They have a monthly income of INR 3000-4000, which is not even sufficient to feed an entire family for a month, but they make do.
The best part of this was the fact that they enjoy life the way they have it. They are proud of their roots and even find it enough to get them through their life on a daily basis. The village isn’t vast, but it is beautiful in its way. The lush blanket of greenery around is what makes it stand out of the rest, and that was one thing that mesmerized me.
When I say that this spot is worth better tourism, I do mean it. There is a lot you can learn here, from the people and even from the kind of heritage that is present there.
The residents of this village are all culturally sound and even indulge in block printing at their homes. If given the resources, there are chances that their art and their culture can take them places that nobody had any sort of idea about.
If you are interested in block printing and like the styles and designs, they do sell the printed cloths in meters which you can purchase and turn them into your desired piece of clothing.
As I mentioned before, I did interact with some of the locals there, and the one thing that attracted my attention was the fact that they live a happy and content life without any kind of major diseases that we rush ourselves to the hospital for.
They mentioned that 95% of the population there hasn’t been sick ever since they were born, and none of them have issues with their eyesight. Do you realize how amazing of a thing this is? The primary reason behind this is because of how much of a secluded and pure life they lead. They are happy, stress-free, and live in an environment which is clean and devoid of pollution.
Where to stay around Kuchipudi?
As there is no hotel in Kuchipudi, you can stay in Vijayawada as it is the nearest city to the village. You can even opt to stay in Amravathi, machlipatnam, guntur and other nearest towns.
Tips to know before visiting Kuchipudi village :
- You should avoid visiting on Sundays as many people do. The village is really small, so you may not get able to enjoy its real essence.
- Try to reach early morning so you will be able to explore in a better way and cover more places. There are some interesting nearby places like Bhatlapenumarru, which is 5 kilometers away, Pedena, 25 kilometers away. There you can even get a chance to visit the museum of block printings.
- Do try the local food as they are cooked with the purest ingredients and the taste would certainly leave you wanting for more.
- Try to be generous when talking or interacting with the locals.
Foods to try in Kuchipudi, Andhra Pradesh
I am a big-time foodie, and there are no two ways about it. Being born in Andhra, I feel the food is delicious and drool-worthy which you should definitely try if visiting Kuchipudi or nearby in Andhra.
The wide range of “basis” that they offer is amazing. You name a vegetable, and they have a fritter made out of it. This was my go-to snack during the evenings, and I am pretty sure I did end up overstuffing myself with them.
But, the taste does compensate for the excess oil that you are consuming.
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Some of the best dishes that you should try includes
Vegetarian dishes to try-
- Pulihora – Lemon or tamarind rice [My personal favourite 😛 ]
- Gongura pickle
- Pesarattu [Dosa made with moong dal]
- Gutti Vankaya Koora (brinjal curry)
- Dondakaya fry
- Curd rice
- Bobbatlu (sweet parantha)
Some of the famous non-vegetarian dishes
- Chicken Biriyani
- Chepa Pulusu (fish curry)
Final thoughts about Kuchipudi village
If you are a culture and art geek, visiting the Kuchipudi village will ingrain a whole new level of respect for the dance form. The place itself is very soothing and very relaxing if that is something you want to experience apart from your fast and hectic lifestyle.
The weather there can be a bit hot and humid during the summers, so try and visit during the winter or even the autumn seasons when it is quite pleasant. Even if it’s hot, the greenery around does make up for it with the cool breeze.