Kerala Kalamandalam is a respectable name in the field of Kerala arts.
Since its inception in 1930, it has stayed focused on its goal –sustaining the art forms of the region.
During the early 1900’s, various local art and dance forms were experiencing gradual decline. Kerala kalamandalam was started as an initiative to counter such decline and to catalyse future growth.
Fair to say that Kalamandalam has given great boost to several art forms of Kerala.
Kalamandalam came into existence primarily because of the efforts of Vallathol Narayana Menon. The renowned poet of Kerala was a great art lover too. He was very well supported by some prominent personalities such as Manakkunnam Mukunda Raja and Kakkad Karanavappad.
Traditionally, learning in India happened in the Gurukula method. Students stayed at Guru’s (teacher) place and learned.
From the beginning, Kalamandalam adopted Gurukula method. Instead of staying at the teacher’s place, teachers and students resided within campus.
Kalamandalam, over the years, has grown to become much more than a residential art school.
It is a Deemed University for Art and Culture.
Traditional dances are taught widely in Kerala. Nevertheless you won’t find a parallel to Kerala Kalamandalam.
Of course it is challenging to steer a uni along the traditional Gurukula trajectory. For example, many training sessions start as early as 4.30 in the morning. It transpires that no challenge is challenging enough in the face of love of arts and dedication thereof.
Kalamandalam provides in depth training in Kathakali, the dance drama native to Kerala. Acting, vocal music, percussion are all covered.
Mohiniattam and Bharatanatyam are two important dance forms that are in demand among students. Of these, Mohiniyattam is a Kerala dance while Bharathanatyam is not limited to Kerala.
Kalamandalam also holds regular classes for Kudiyattam, Thullal, Kuchipudi and Nangiar Koothu.
Percussion instruments that accompany various art forms and hence included in the curriculum are Chenda, Maddalam, Mridangam and Mizhavu.
In addition to the above individual instruments, Panchavadyam, the traditional orchestra is also trained. If you have been to a Kerala temple festival, the tempo that is hard to miss is quite intriguing. The elevating beats make you want to join. That music is Panchavadyam, interplay of five instruments.
Carnatic music is the classical music of south India. Training starts early in the morning even before sun rise.
Kalamandalam is a great place to get some insight into the arts and culture of Kerala.
Visitors are welcome on all working days. Bear in mind that Kalamandalam being an educational institution have many non working days. Public holidays, exam seasons, summer vacation, Onam and Christmas holidays are periods of complete or partial shut off.
So please contact them before making any plans to visit.
Phone : +91-4884-262418, 262526
A day with the masters
Kalamandalam has designed a structured group tour programme, A Day with the Masters, for tourists.
Introductory presentations are followed by visits to the temple theatre (koothambalam), the dance, acting, instruments and music classes (Kalaris), the Art Gallery and other venues. The tour is over by lunch time (around 1 PM).
Advance booking is required.
How to reach
Kerala Kalamandalam is located at the banks of River Nila (Bharatha Puzha), in the village of Cheruthuruthy, about 32 kms from Thrissur town.
The nearest town, Shornoor (3 kms), have a railway station and connected by road and rail to the major places of the region.
From Cochin, it is easier to take a train to Shornur, than a bus. From Shornoor (Shornur) station, you can hire an Auto Rickshaw.
Tourist attractions nearby
Kalamandalam is near the border of Thrissur and Palakkad districts. So, if time permitting, you may be able to visit a few spots in any of these districts.
The temple town of Guruvayoor and Athirapally – Vazhachal falls are among the popular tourist spots in Thrissur district. Anakotta, the elephant sanctuary is a hit among Indians, but not all westerners are entertained by the sight of elephants chained.
Malampuzha dam, Nelliyampathy, Parambikulam Sanctuary and Silent Valley national Park are some of the major tourist attractions of Palakkad. If you are visiting sanctuaries or waterfalls in Palakkad district, please ring the tourist officials in advance to confirm that they are open to public as they are shut now and then for various reasons.
Location: Central Kerala
Nearest towns: Shornoor at 3 kms, Wadakancherry at12 kms, Pattambi at18 kms, Ottappalam at 18 kms and Thrissur at 32 kms.
Bus Station: Shornoor at 3 kms
Taxi / Auto Rickshaw Hire : Shornoor at 3 kms
Railway Station : Shornoor Railway Station at 3 kms.
Air port: Kochi Int’l Airport at Nedumbassery (COK) at 78 kms, Kozhikode airport (CCJ) at 80 kms.
Food Options: Restaurants at Thrissur town. Less choice at Shornoor and
Accommodation Options: Hotels and lodges at Thrissur.
Best time to visit: Can be visited anytime during the year. Closed during public and academic holidays, so check with them before you visit.
Nearby Attractions : Thrissur District - Guruvayoor temple, Guruvayoor Anakotta, Peechi Dam, Athirapally - Vazhachal falls, Peechi dam and Chimmony wildlife sanctuary.
Palakkad District: Malampuzha dam, Dhoni waterfall, Silent Valley National Park, Walayar Dam, Chulannur Peacock Protection Centre, Kalpathi, Mangalam Dam, Parambikulam Sanctuary, Nelliyampathy hill station, Pothundi Dam, Meenvallam waterfall and Attappadi.