Munnar-A hamlet in God’s own country, Kerala which is a pure delight to body and soul. It is a picturesque hill station with high mountain peaks, fearlessly piercing clouds and proudly enchanting the song of their strength and solitude, welcoming tea gardens, clouds making way through the windows, misty roads, and beautiful landscapes, etc. My recent visit to this hidden gem proved a double treat to me. I not only got a chance to imbibe in the beauty of the place and live like a localite (thanks to the long weekend and friend’s reference!) but also witnessed something which was on my wishlist since my childhood days. A piece of marvelous Indian culture and tradition-Kalaripayattu and Kathakali. Both forms are centuries-old traditions and a highlight of the rich culture of South India.
Kalaripayattu is an over 3000 years old highly scientific martial art. In fact, it is said that the famous martial art form kung fu roots are related to Kalaripayattu. Bodhidharma, a Kalaripayattu master who traveled from South India to Shaolin Monastery, China in 6th century founded the today’s world Kung-fu. Kalaripayattu focuses not only on physical agility but also on mind, body and soul’s energy sync. It is a synchronized combination of steps and postures and performed by using different kinds of weapons such as sword and shield, flexible sword, long staff, short stick, curved stick, spear, and mace.
On the other hand, Kathakali is a beautiful classical dance form. It is a kind of story play which showcases various folk mythologies and religious legends. There is no clear proof of the roots of this dance form, but the most popular version says that it was originated in the 17th century. The highlight of this dance form is the distinguished, elaborated, colorful and bright makeup, and unique costumes.
At Munnar, there are many play theatres which conduct evening shows of Karayiapattu and Kathakali. We visited Kalari Kshethra, a playhouse which was approx. 3.5km from our resort. The one to one and half hour show not only introduce you to best of Indian cultural heritage but also the performers are so generous that they will happily allow everyone to get a photo clicked with them. Performances start with offering prayer to the deity.
Beaches, temples, hill stations, forests, and backwaters are indeed the attraction of Kerala but these famous ancient arts is a must visit to re-live ancient India’s rich cultural heritage.