Travel is the best opportunity to make memories. My couple of trips to Kerala, India, helped in making those in my sketch-diary. First was a 5-day annual family vacation and other visit to catchup with Thrissur, Kochi and Trivandrum Urban Sketcher friends.
While travel exposes you to new places and people, even the common moments like meeting, greeting or connecting with people, day to day tea routine or breakfast or time with self, gets different meaning and is a story to tell that motivates me to sketch.
Sharing here selective account from my stay at Thekkady, Munnar, Trivandrum.. which was a good mix of places to unwind with nature and also get to know local culture and traditions.
Kathakali is an immersive experience when sketching goes along! Elaborate costume, detailed makeup, dance, drama… telling stories from the past, mostly from Indian epics for over 300 years. The pomp and magnificence of Kathakali is with elaborate costume and face painted in vivid hues. The make-up in line with the characters in the story and artists completely immerse themselves in the tale. Story was unfolding on stage and in my sketchbook!
Another people in action time was the Kalaripayattu- the traditional martial art form of Kerala session…said to have originated around 3000 years ago, it is the oldest known combat style and is known as the mother of martial arts. Being a part of ancient Keralite healthy lifestyle, this martial art form embodies beauty, strength and agility. Most of the martial art forms popular around the globe, including Karate, Kung-fu, Judo are derived from the Adi Thada- hand combat form of Kalaripayattu. With so much action in the arena, it was only figure sketches. Excellent place for the rapid 100 people challenge!
Afternoon at Elephant Park- The protected jungle area of Thekkady is famous for its wide variety of wildlife including elephants. Ceremonial elephants are used in temples across India, their presence is extensive in Kerala. There are several elephant parks with a variety of activities like elephant rides in the spice gardens or forest, scrubbing/ bathing sessions popular amongst tourists. Waiting time was a bonus as always to capture the place and activity.
Temples in south India are an extraordinary confluence of religion and art. These are the cultural heritage and some of the finest architectural creations made over a period of thousands. Life and setup in India for centuries was around temples. One such heritage is Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple famous for its grandeur and scale… architecture and history.
Each of these experiences and more are story item by itself to be experienced. More of it sometime later.