Inspired by the success of a tiny village in Orissa becoming a full-fledged model arts village, the Ministry of Tourism has selected five villages for reviving the gurukul tradition for teaching of arts.
What started as promotion of pattachitra (painting on palm leaf) in Raghurajpur village in Puri district as part of rural tourism project five years ago culminated into transformation of the village into a vibrant centre of folk art.
In 2002, only about 6000 tourists visited the place. In 2005 the tourist arrival figure went up to 34,000. The sale from the art and craft work went up from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 52 lakh during the same period.
Stone craft, pattachitra, palm leaf inscription, papier mache, sodhai work, mural painting, golden grass coir, screwpine leaf and wood work, filigree, applique, terra cotta and bell metal work greet visitors whose number is increasing every year.
"Every house in this village is an art gallery," said a senior ministry official. "The village has served us not just as a role model for generating employment through rural tourism but also as an inspiration for how to preserve folk art," the official said.
Besides Raghurajpur, the other villages identified for setting up gurukul tradition of teaching art are Pochampalli in Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh, Hodka in Kachch district in Gujarat, Pranpur in Ashok Nagar district in Madhya Pradesh and Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.
"Gurukul embodies one of the earliest learning system in India's cultural history. Gurukul, meaning the home of the teacher, was the place where pupil lived and served as member of family. We will invite students and visitors to spend time and learn art in the similar way," an United Nations Development Programme official told PTI.
UNDP and the Tourism Ministry share the funding of rural tourism projects in about 104 villages in India.
As per plans, the skilled craftsmen will be sensitised to the Gurukul concept. The home stay facilities will be upgraded wherever required.
"We plan to develop training modules of different durations. The packages will be marketed. A guru may or may not take money for teaching art," the UNDP official said.
Each village thus selected is unique in its claim to fame. Hodka village showcases cultural variety and talent within Kachch through a cultural festival organised every week. Earnings from the camp Shaam-e-Sarhad is diverted into running the resort in the heart of the wetland.