• Dakshinachitra is an exciting cross cultural living museum of art,
architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of south India.
• One can explore 17 heritage houses, amble along recreated streetscapes,
exploring contextual exhibitions, interacting with typical village artisans
and witnessing folk performances set in an authentic ambience.
• Dakshinachitra literally means – “a picture of the south”
• Spread over a huge expansive land of 10 acres.
• Dakshinachitra is more than just a venue-it is a heritage village, a place
where contemporary art, music and dance forms of the south finds its
manifestation into a journey of discovery and self-learning
• The sprawling ten acres campus is divided into four prominent states of the
south-Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh further
emphasising on their respective culture in terms of house architecture that
is re-modelled district wise-brahmin house,potters house,merchant house
etc…textile and handicrafts found in temples,art exhibitions and more, other
activities at the centre include performing arts, music,research and
educational programs with workshops and heritage trips which connect the
neighbouring villages at the centre
• Here the states are clustered together but their diversities are kept alive
TAMIL NADU SETTLEMENT
• Dakshinachitra occupies ten acres overlooking the bay of Bengal, at Muttakadu
,twenty five kilometres south of Chennai on the east coast road to Mamllapuram,
Tamil Nadu, India
Architect : Laurie baker
Client : madras craft foundation
Contractor : Ravindran
Built up area :3 acres
Construction time :10 years
Cost of project:rs: 70 lakh
• Rainfall is moderately low
• The temperature is high
• The relative humidity is semi-humid
• The entry to Dakshinachitra is very cosy and small like entering a south Indian home
• The various play with brick at the entrance compound wall façade etc.. bore witness
to the involvement of brick master in the design
• There were the archetypal chocolate pillars , thatched roofs and richly
carved doors which effectively restricts the view into the interiors ,thus leaving the
imagination to us
• And the inside art is well worth hiding ,once you enter the village the
world is entirely different from the urban
• Reception centre
Seminar hall orientation film
• Gallery for temporary exhibitions
• Library and archives
• Craft bazaar
• Activity hall
• Hindu house-trivandrum district
• Cattle shed
• Hindu house-calicut district
• Granary and textile exhibition
• Syrian christian house-puthupally
• Small pavilion padipura
TAMIL NADU SECTION
• Weavers houses
ANDHRA PRADESH SECTION
• Ikkat weavers house
• Coastal Andhra thatch house;cattle shed and grananry
• Guest house
• Artisans quarters
• Lathe workshop
• Driver’s shed
• Gallery and stores
• Craft shop
• Tea shop
• Merchant house chettinadu , putukotai
• Agriculturists house
• Potters house
• Basket weavers house
• Ayyanar shrine
• Weavers house
• Textile exhibition
• Agraharam brahmin house
• Art exhibition
section Andhra Pradesh
ENTRANCE PLAZAGUEST HOUSE TEA SHOP MANDAPAM
• The vehicular flow is restricted at the
entry plaza itself
• The parking sheds are also provided in
traditional style roofing
• All pedestrian paths were paved by stones
with trees on either side
• The pedestrian flow was clearly
demarcated from the paths used for
• The pedestrian flow gets branched out
from the entrance to various state’s houses
• Trees are seen in dense near
the parking area, guest houses
,Kerala section and Karnataka
• Trees are seen in other parts of
site also along the pathways
• Regions marked in yellow
were devoid of trees
• Palm trees , coconut trees
were majorly seen
• The artificial pond runs from the oat long the Tamil Nadu section ,Kerala complex
and artisans complex.
• The flow of water bodies are bounded with stones
• Wooden bridges run above the water bodies connecting the children’s play area and
the Tamil Nadu section
• These ponds get filled during rainy season as these ponds serve as a collecting point
for the entire site. These ponds get dried during other times and it gives a barren
view from the Tamil Nadu section and play area
VIEW OF THE
DRIED- UP POND
TAMIL NADU SECTION
• Mostly, tamil houses have an inner courtyard which is used for drying grains,
shelling pods and for functions.
• There will be a raised verandah or small seating area in the front of the house,
called a tinnai.
• The houses from tamil nadu at dakshinachitra were typical houses found in many
villages throughout tamil region.
WEAVERS HOUSE FROM KANCHIPURAM
• This house had one functional pit loom used
for weaving Kanchipuram saris, along with a
kitchen, a puja room and a front hall.
• The weaver’s house had a large paved open
area in the back that served as a utility area
with toilets, bathing area, and facilities for
washing clothes and kitchen vessels.
• over 16 weavers houses were documented
from Kanchipuram and the most repetitive
elements and planning were documented and
depicted in Dakshinachitra
• The exterior façade of the house at DakshinaChitra was a replication of a
common façade of smaller Nattukottai Chettiar merchant houses the
outside columned verandah of Burmese teak were a reconstruction from a
house in the village of Aryakudi.
• The basic floor plan of a Chettinad house consists of
a) an outside verandah (thinnai) for guests, with a room for conducting
business on one or both ends;
b) an interior courtyard to be used in ceremonies, with a raised seating area
at one or both ends;
c) a series of small double rooms opening off the main courtyard, for
storage, prayer and sleeping and
d) a small courtyard behind for cooking and for the women to socialize.
MERCHANTS HOUSE FROM CHETTINAD
Working area Working area
VIEW OF THE HOUSE
BRAHMIN HOUSE FROM AMBUR
• Brahmin houses were connected
by a common wall and they were
narrow in width and very long.
• The Ambur house originally had
a longer courtyard for the cows,
followed by another long,
enclosed area, planted rather
wildly, which led down to a
stepped river embankment.
• Due to space restrictions
at DakshinaChitra, the second
courtyard was made smaller and
the third has been omitted.
• The upper floor was used for
sleeping, drying and storing
ventilationVIEW OF THE
AGRICULTURISTS HOUSE FROM MAYAVARAM
• The agriculturist’s house from Mayavaram district, is typical of many
houses found in the villages in and around Thanjavur and Mayavaram
• It has been reconstructed without any changes except in its orientation.
• The original orientation of the house was north, so that the puja room
and sacred area were on the west.
• The front rooms were used for storage and sleeping.
• The house had a second block with two small parallel courtyards :one
used for the kitchen and eating, and one for bathing.
THE FIRST FLOOR WILL BE
CONNECTED FOR THE ENTIRE
POTTERS HOUSE FROM CHENGLEPUT
• The turn of the 20th century house of a practising potter is from the village of
Tiruvallur, in Chengelpet district.
• The original house, though built for one family, was occupied by two brothers and
their families, each living on one side of the house with a separate kitchen. The house
depicts the actual lifestyle of the potters, with space for living and working.
• The backyard originally had space for cooking and for cows; at DakshinaChitra, a
separate work shed behind the living quarters has been added for demonstration
Thatched roofing supported by
wooden poles with low eave
projection to dry their mud
Interior of the workshop where the
potter’s wheel is present with storage
space for mud and paddling deck
FENCING WITH DRIED THORNY BUSHES
FENCING WITH DRIED THORNY BUSES
PLAN OF THE CLUSTER
• These houses are two reproductions of
simple mud houses occupied by ordinary
working class people of the state.
• The interiors of the houses show the
lifestyle of ordinary villagers with space
for cooking, praying, living and
• Ayyanar worship is popular from
Madurai and the Pudukkottai area up to
• Ayyanar is a popular village guardian
deity who lives on the outskirts of the
village in a thickly wooded sacred
• To prepare for the shrine, the neem
tree, itchli tree, peepul tree, banyan tree
and vembu maram, were planted at the
site before ayyanar shrine was
SINGLE ROOM DWELLING
BASKET WEAVING DECK
BASKET WEAVERS‘ MUD HOUSES FROM CHENGLEPUT
WEAVER’S HOUSES FROM IKAL
• This cluster from Ilkal, Bagalkote district
represents an urban settlement pattern and is
typical of weavers’ houses in the northern region
• The wooden gateway, stone and wooden window
mark the entrance to the Karnataka section are the
remnants of a house which was built in the 18th
century and belonged to one of the oldest known
families in the town.
• Almost all houses in northern Karnataka are built
of stone. Each area has its distinctive stone.. The
colours vary from area to area as does the way the
stone is quarried and the preferred shapes and
sizes used for construction. In Ilkal, the stone is
WEAVER’S HOUSES FROM NALGONDA DISTRICT
• Most weavers’ houses and other
village houses in Nalgonda and
Warangal district follow a style
locally known as bhawanti. The plan
used commonly is the chitra sala,
with three bays or sections and a
small courtyard in the middle. The
building materials include bamboo
reapers, palmyra beams and semi-
circular roof tiles.
• This was a
residence and of
work where ikat
weaving is done.
• Ikat is the
dyeing the yarn
BATHROOM AND TOILET
CHUTTILLU FROM COASTALANDHRA PRADESH
OUTDOOR SLEEPING AREA
SKETCH OF THE CLUSTER PLAN
• In a cyclone-prone area, fishermen and agricultural farmers build circular houses
which nestle closely to form clusters.
• The shape and the positioning help the houses battle against the raging winds.
• The house consists of an inner circular room which is enveloped by another circular
space that serves as the kitchen on one side and a store at the other end..
• There is also a cooking area or vantasala just outside the house.
• The walls were built by the cob wall technique that places balls of mud to make an
18” thick wall.
• Palmyra timber was used for rafter, palmyra thatch for the roof and lime wash for
the wall finish.
• There was a flat mud roof and timber roof under the sloping thatched roof to protect
the belongings in case of a fire.
• The architecture, environment and culture
of Kerala stand in marked contrast to that of Tamil
• Unlike the Tamilian, the Keralite prefers to live
isolated from neighbours in the middle of a plot of
land, with privacy and beautiful tropical vegetation.
• In Kerala houses, technique, form and materials are
basically the same for all classes and economic levels.
Only size or the addition of more buildings to a
compound separate the rich from the poor.
• Kerala section in Dakshinachitra is punctuated in form
by the religious architecture of its three communities -
the Hindus, Christians and Muslims.
• While the domestic architecture of the three
communities is similar, small details
such as a cross or a gable distinguish
one type from another.
HINDU HOUSE - TRIVANDRUM
• This small, middle-class house from
South Kerala, belonged to an
agricultural family of Nairs, a
matrilineal Hindu caste.
• The kitchen to this house was a
separate structure next to the house.
• Wooden structure was representative
of houses in southern Kerala, where
the building material was primarily
• The manner of joinery and wood
used (jackfruit wood and palmyra)
was used and was standard in
southern Kerala for both the rich and
the middle class.
• This house was isolated from the
other houses with gardens and cow
shed was present outside .
• Thus ,brining in the feel kerala
country side in planning
VIEW OF THE HINDU HOUSE
SYRIAN CHRISTIAN HOUSE FROM KOTTAYAM
• The distinctive feature of the Syrian Christian house was its layout, with the
entrance of the house leading directly into the granary.
• Prayer area was in front of the granary, identified by the small cross above
the door, and not in a separate room for prayers as in a Hindu house.
• The addition of a masonry structure, which includes a living room, separate
dining room and kitchen, is a sign of the early westernisation of the
community and the social trend of entertaining guests in the family home
KERALA STYLE ROOF
The British influence is noticeable in
the arched veranda which came to
replace the graceful curved slatted
wooden screens and inside seating
which were characteristic of
CHILDREN’S PLAY AREA:
• This area were lined with tall trees giving good shade even in the day time
• The maintenance of this park area was poor and the installations were not properly
• The pavilion and kalyana mandapa is
in chettinadu style with restaurant
adjacent to it .
• Gable roof are used with mugappu
• Columns and doors are of traditional
• Craft bazaars are
present for various
artist coming from
different parts of
india to showcase
their products and
• This is a permanent
• Stone carving
workshop is found
to the craft
STONE CARVING WORKSHOP
• This area was restricted for artisans
With guest houses for artisans coming to the village during
• Artisans quarters was present for the workers employed
in various activities going on in the heritage village
• Activity hut was present for artisans from various parts
to exchange their ideas
• Craft corner was present for the artisans to merchandise
their products and this is permanent market
• This permanent
structure is where
classes going on
to learn the
• This place was
and the classes
coming to visit
OPEN AIR FOLK PERFORMANCES:
• Open air folk
performance area was the
first place we see after
• This place had trees but it
was not dense enough to
serve as a shelter
• People who were sitting
here to see the folk
because of scorching sun
rays in this area.
EXHIBITION AND MUSEUM SPACES
Exposition of various professions existed in
early times and the tools used by them.
Museum showing various religious
Museum was present for textile industry
Museum for folk arts were shown in various
settlement of different states.
MUSEUM EXHIBITING THE VARIOUS AREAS IN A HOUSE LIKE KITCHEN ,
WORK SPACE , LIVING ROOM ETC..
• Dakshinachitra forms an unique environment to express architecture as a piece of our
culture , history and folk arts..
• This gives a prominent idea on the native south Indian architecture
• Site planning has enabled the artisans community to live and blend
• This is a best example to understand the workmanship possessed by artisans and
builders in early time.
• This serves as a learning hub for the young generation to know the past, conserve it
and grow effectively for future
• Inspires the tourists to visit the respective place from where these buildings have
placed and to explore their native lands.
• Serves as a rich heritage complex which proudly implores the lost glory of art and
architecture of south India and throws an insight into people to conserve the past .
• This complex has uplifted various artisans who were in a dreadful state due to
change in lifestyle which has economically uplifted them and also promoted
the art forms.
• The entrance plaza would have been in monumental scale.
• The ticket counter could have been in a more open space
• The construction was with locally available material and hence
the maintenance was quite easy and economically viable
• The buildings were efficiently planned based on the climatic factors
of Chennai viz: orientation , materials etc…
but still depicting each state in a most apt
way by retaining the most essential