It had been on my list since I moved to Bangalore, when en route, my best friend commandeered me to go there on the very first weekend I was free. I was free on the first weekend in Bangalore and on several weekends since then, but it took me over two years to finally visit Nrityagram.
Set up by Protima Bedi in 1990 as a dance gurukul to promote classical Indian dance forms, Odissi, Mohiniattam Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Manipuri, Nrityagram is spread over a 10 acre plot. Protima Bedi has described it as “a community of dancers in a forsaken place amidst nature. A place where nothing exists, except dance. A place where you breathe, eat, sleep, dream, talk, imagine – dance. A place where all the five senses can be refined to perfection. A place where dancers drop negative qualities such as jealousy, small-mindedness, greed and malice to embrace their colleagues as sisters and support each other in their journey towards becoming dancers of merit.”
Our initial plan to leave after an early breakfast was thwarted by Saturday morning laziness and by the time we set out, we had the full force of weekend traffic to accompany us and confuse us on the way out of Bangalore. We ended up missing an important flyover and taking a flyover we weren’t supposed to take, but a little over an hour later, we found ourselves on the Hesaraghatta Road following directions down the winding roads to Nrityagram.
Enchanted even before we entered, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to visit it. We entered in hushed awe at the lush green gardens and the serenity that seemed to envelop us as we walked towards the main office. I could hear the sounds of a dance class as my friend bought the entry tickets and I got my camera ready, hopping from foot to foot impatiently as the receptionist gave us a brief welcome talk, eager to start exploring the dance village.
The first dance class we witnessed was nothing short of a professional performance and we walked out mesmerized by the beauty and elegance of the danseuse. Weaving our way towards the other dance class, around the guest houses and private residences, we soaked in the vernacular style of the mud and stone cottages designed by Gerard Da Cunha.
We spent nearly two hours walking around the campus, refining our senses, watching the dance classes and admiring the abundance of trees and flowers, ending our visit at the temple which has been constructed using the raw mud of Nrityagram.
Since there are no restaurants close to Nrityagram, we walked across the parking courtyard to Taj Kuteeram resort, which offers a decent lunch buffet. Though a little crowded for my liking, the feeling content that had seeped into my bones after walking around Nrityagram allowed me to ignore the cacophony of the other guests and focus on the highlights of the meal and the rustic ambiance created to complement Nritygram.
A perfect afternoon that I would be happy to repeat again.🙂