Guest Author - Nandini Tirumala
Shilparamam, the arts and crafts village in Tirupati was established to promote different Arts and Crafts of India and showcase the talents of artisans nationwide. Also, known as Urban Hut, it is a park-like atmosphere spread across 40 acres of land on Tiruchanur road, on the way to the Padmavathi temple. With the majestic Tirumala Hills as a backdrop and life size models of Dasavathara incarnations of hindu god Vishnu in the entrance, it is a spiritual and cultural retreat for spending an evening with family and friends.
Funded and supported by the Ministry of Tourism of Andhra Pradesh, the village, was built with thatched huts and baked clay to display jewelry, pottery, purses, clothing, wooden dolls, baskets made by different artisans and craftsmen. These stalls are opened yearlong for visitors to shop and support local arts and crafts.
The uniqueness of the Crafts village is the natural and traditional surroundings that have been recreated to experience the life of a typical village amidst the fast paced, urban life of Tirupati. An open air amphitheatre with weekend performances of local musicians, dancers and theater artists adds to the charm of the village. A sun-dial situated in the middle of the park is an interesting attraction. It helps you find the time based on the suns shadow. A detailed description and theory behind this is provided next to it.
There is a sculpture park where visitors can also see the artisans working on different stone sculptures to be sent to different parts of India. A fascinating section in the park is the Rural Museum which has life size sculptures and models of people living in a village and their day to day activities and roles. It is a window to a village of rural India. The accuracy, skill and attention to detail while sculpting these sculptures makes the sculptures come alive. One of my favorites is a farmer with his ox.
There is a huge function hall amidst the park to host weddings, public meetings and also cultural performances. Thatched house accommodations are provided in the proximity to house the participants or invitees. Two very important festivities celebrated in Shilparamam are the Dussehra festival, in the month of October and Sankranti festival in the month of January. Numerous arts, crafts, and cultural competitions are held for children and adults to participate and enjoy. Rangoli competitions add a festive look to the whole village and traditional customs and traditions are encouraged and demonstrated. Popular artists are invited to enthrall the audience with Harikatha( story telling) and other cultural performances. Special exhibitions are held to highlight new forms of arts and sculpture during the summer as an added tourist interest. One such event was a new age sculpture technique of depicting Hindu Gods with scrape metal pieces during May 2014.
A beautiful man-made lake surrounded by trees is maintained and offers paddle boats to visitors. Life jackets are provided and the boats are safe. Enjoying a boat ride with family in this setting is an added attraction for children and adults likewise. A play area for kids with swings and slides helps kids enjoy and expend their energy while parents are relaxing. A food stall with tea, juice and hot snacks are offered on the premise to grab and go. Gobi Manchurian and Bonda are very popular among adults.
The idea, conception and support to the traditional arts and crafts of India through this village is a proof of the commitment and recognition to India’s rich and cultural heritage. Make a visit to Shilparamam on your next trip to Tirupati and hire a club car provided inside for the convenience of elderly and little children.