Hyderabad is grooming up to be India’s hi-tech cybercity thanks to the various IT/ITES companies coming in in the city’s cyberparks and complexes. In spite of the influx of modern technology however, the city still has one of its feet planted squarely in the grounds of tradition and culture. This is never more evident than in the construction of Shilparamam, an arts and crafts village an hour or so away from Hyderabad.
Shilparamam is almost like the opposite shadow of Hyderabad’s cyber side; it is a small village created to preserve the traditional crafts of old Hyderabad, reviving and preserving handicrafts and arts, as well as folk forms of theatre and dance, most of which are centuries old. The artistry of the countryside is on display in all of its untamed splendor. All these are spread to about 50 acres of land that is nestled by the hillside, with natural slopes and vegetation studded by wonderful rock formations. This vast expanse of land where the village is situated was a gift of the Andhra Pradesh government to the South Zone Cultural Center.
The main purpose of Shilparamam is to showcase the talents and the skills of the folks living in the rural countryside through an endless, year-round festival of arts and crafts. When you enter the village, you will be greeted by a majestic gateway flanked by terra-cotta horses. As you go along, you will see sections where craftsmen and artisans are practicing their respective crafts: craftsmen chiseling raw wood into beautiful pieces, sculptors and metalworkers crafting metals into gods or goddesses, and people weaving silk with cotton and gold. These live demonstrations are meant to bring the visitors back to the days of Dhaka muslin, Bankura horses, and several Indian arts and craft forms that have survived modernization and technology.
The craftsmen in Shilparamam also have shops where they sell their creations. The shops themselves are constructed to look just like their rural counterparts, with thatched roofs, folk frescoes and murals, and rangoli-carpeted floors. Shows featuring folk music, plays, and magic shows can also be experienced via an auditorium in the village theatre. There are also places where the visitor can taste ethnic food prepared in traditional menu.
The best times to visit the village, however, is during special annual events such as the festival of arts and crafts in March, or the cultural shows shown during the time of Ugadi, Sankranti and Dasara. Here, the visitors can partake in everything Shilparamam can offer, both spiritually and physically.