Best Places to watch Kathakali in Kerala
Kathakali is the classical dance of Kerala and is translated into “story play” in Malayalam – the language spoken in Kerala. Kathakali in Kerala is a traditional dance that tells stories from the Indian epics and is a unique blend of dance, music, and acting which depicts these epics. Kathakali dancer which can be a woman or man wears a painted face where dancers and communicates stories to music using animated expressions and mimes with hand gestures and facial expressions.
Famous around the world, Kathakali dance has won great admiration for the state of Kerala. Kathakali which is the leading classical dance of India showcases mesmerizing dance dramas – depicting the struggles of gods and demons – which are an unmissable feature of cultural life in Kerala. Kathakali music used during the performance comprises Karnatic ragas and the orchestra has traditional instruments of Kerala like the Chenda, Idakka and Shankhu, Maddalam, Chengila, Ilathalam.
A Kathakali performance begins with the Kelikottu calling the audience to attention followed by the Todayam when characters invoke the blessings of the gods. Purappadu comes after this which is a pure Nritya piece. In Melappada, the musicians and drummers entertain the audience. All remaining characters make their debut in Tiranokku. Then the play or the particular scene of the chosen play begins.
Kerala Kalamandalam which is a bit off from the touristy trail may be the best place to watch Kathakali in Kerala. Unless you catch some kind of festivals that are conducted occasionally in Kerala, Kalamandalam will only do command performances at a considerable price, but it would be the best authentic, classical Kathakali performance in Kerala.
Kochi is where you have the best chance to see a live Kathakali in Kerala either in temple festivals held in winter or at the shorter tourist-oriented shows that take place year-round on all days.
Ernakulam Kathakali Club
Ernakulam Kathakali Club is among the best option to see Kathakali dance in Kerala and the club stages night-long plays by Kerala’s leading actors once a month, either at the TDM Hall in Ernakulam or at the Ernakulathappan Hall in the city’s main Shiva temple. Details of the shows by Ernakulam Kathakali Club are available in Tourist Information Centers. At Ernakulam Kathakali, you’ll have a great view of the rich display of Kathakali dance.
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You can opt for a Kathakali Performance in Kochi on the evening on the day of arrival or on the last day if your flight is in the morning. It is not an ideal option to watch it after Kerala Houseboat Tour as you may checkout from the houseboat in the morning.
There are five other venues in the city that currently hold daily shows, each preceded by an introductory talk at around 6.30 PM. If you are a photographer, you should come early to ensure a front-row seat. Tickets (usually Rs100–150) can be bought at the door. You can watch the dancers being made up if you arrive an hour or so beforehand.
Folklore Museum is where Prince Charles watched the Kathakali show in Kerala and this is located at bypass Rd, the southeastern edge of Ernakulam near the Hotel Sarovar. This is among the pricey shows with a comfortable and atmospheric venue – an a/c theatre decorated with wonderful Keralan murals and traditional wooden architecture and along with Kathakali you can also enjoy the museum downstairs.
Dr Devan’s Kathakali
Dr Devan’s Kathakali is the oldest tourist show in the city, introduced by the inimitable Dr. Devan, who starts the show with a lengthy discourse on Indian philosophy and mythology and is located near Ernakulam Junction railway station.
ALSO SEE – Pulikali- Tiger Dance of Kerala
Kairali Kathakali is ideal for people who are staying in Fort Kochi and is located opposite Brunton Boatyard Hotel, Fort Cochin. This is in an old-fashioned hessian-roofed structure and is the smallest and most intimate venue.
Kerala Kathakali Centre
Kerala Kathakali Centre is the most popular and famous place to watch Kathakali in Kochi and is near Santa Cruz Basilica in Fort Cochin. Popular performances in a dedicated a/c theatre by graduates of the renowned Kerala Kalamandalam. You usually get to see three characters, and the music is live. This place has kathakali Shows from 6–7.30 pm with makeup at 5 PM and Kalarippayat at 4 PM There is live Carnatic music after the Kathakali show at 8:30 PM.
Rhythms Theatre opposite Fort House, Fort Cochin is the most expensive places to watch Kathakali in Kochi but makes up for the price by combining excerpts from kathakali plays with displays of mohiniyattam dance, kalarippayat martial art, and theyyam performance on Sundays, Performances aren’t of the highest standards by traditional benchmarks, but as costumes and acts change in quick succession the show here may appeal to kids.
ALSO SEE – Mudiyettu – Ritual dance drama annually performed after the harvest of summer crop
Margi School Trivandrum
Margi School Trivandrum has more often shown for Kathakali. It’s authentic, quality classical dance.‘Margi’, the Sanskrit word means “pursuit of aesthetic values which are universal and everlasting”. The organization provides Gurukula system of training for these classical art forms and also holds regular performances. Margo school is located near Fort, Trivandrum.
Kadathanadan Kalari Centre & Navarasa Kathakali
Kadathanadan Kalari Centre & Navarasa Kathakali in Thekkady is another place to watch Kathakali in Kerala and this place has shown of 1 hour at timings of 6-7 and 8-9 in the evening and the price varies from 200 INR per hour. It is advised to book the tickets as soon as you reach Thekkady town to avoid the final minute rush. The theatre is small enough so that you can enjoy the performance from a close distance and the participants allow tourists to click photos after the performances.
If you have already watched Kathakali in Kerala do let us know whether we have included the place where you wanted Kathakali show and if you are planning to visit Kerala , You can let us know and we would love to create a customised holiday plan for your Kerala trip.
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