The heritage village of DakshinaChitra, meaning ‘A Picture of the South,' was established to help preserve the folk art and cultural traditions of southern India, particularly from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Artisans trained in traditional techniques work in the 17 heritage houses and village tableaus within the 10 acres (four hectares) of rural land just south of Chennai. Many of the pots, baskets, woven silk pieces, puppets and stone carvings you see being made can be purchased directly from the artists or in the gift shop; and items from these artists are both authentic and of high quality. Dancers, musicians, traditional fortune tellers and puppeteers all perform throughout the day in the open-air venue.
The DakshinaChitra Museum grounds house a South Indian restaurant and a small guesthouse with both private rooms and dormitories. While a few hours should be sufficient to see all the sights, a night’s stay makes for a nice escape from the busy city center, particularly if you’re traveling with children. Despite the sometimes heavy traffic on the way from Chennai, the well-maintained cultural center is well worth a visit.