Tuesday, March 06, 2007

There's one place people visiting Chennai must see and that is Dakshina chitra. Dakshina chitra is a tranquil place situated about half hour drive from chennai city on the east coast road. It is a treasure tove of Indian culture especially south Indian. There is a small entry fee and after that you are on your own. You just follow the cobblestoned walkway and explore the place by yourself. Of course there will be a person milling about here and there. So you start exploring the place and the walkway takes you to rows of houses each built in a different style and you may be led to wonder initially. Then you notice the placards that tell you the style in which the house has been built. The sheer diversity of styles and the novelty of the concept will amaze you. Who would have thought that a place for preserving culture would exist right in the middle of resorts, hotels etc started out only with the interest of making money. The different kinds of styles of houses that exist include the chettinad houses, the tanjore houses, houses built in tirunelveli style, kerala houses including those belonging to hindus but also syrian christians, muslims and other houses. And the houses are not there just to serve as architectural examples. Each house is fully furnished with period furniture and other artifacts down to the minuscule detail. You would find the swing that the people used to sit on and rock themselves, the postle and mortar that old people used to powder betel nut, tobacco etc, complete utensils used in the kitchen, chairs, wall and house decorations etc. Once through with the houses, you can go to the restaurant and eat to your heart's content at the restaurant where you can find both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies from the south. There's also a small souvenir shop where you can buy various art works, handicrafts and items of cultural significance.

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