The celebrated Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon is the founder of Kerala Kalamandalam. It was the time when Kathakali was steadily losing its popularity. But, the great poet was quick to realize the need to keep the dance form of Kathakali alive. So, the poet took the onus on himself to revive and popularize this form of art. In his efforts, poet Vallathol got the help of some royal Kathakali enthusiasts like Kunjikuttan Thampuran and M. Mukundarajan. These people took great pains to arrange for performances by renowned artists throughout the State and even successfully raised finances through lotteries.
Since then, Kerala Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur District has been training in its signature style for Kathakali, Kootiyattam, Mohiniyattam, Panchavadyam, Thullal, and others by way of the ancient system of gurukula.
Kerala Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthy, 32 km north of Thrissur, is easily accessible by tourists. People traveling by train may use the nearest railway station of Shornur, located about 10 km to reach here. Overseas travelers can use the Cochin International Airport, lying at a distance of about 90 km away.
Kerala Kalamandalam and neighboring areas reveal the pure, simple, and cultural atmosphere where traditional art forms have survived for a long time. This place has a conventional dance theater, namely Koothambalam. It is the lone dance theater in the state constructed outside a temple area. Also, it was built under vikrushtra madhya, as specified in the article on art by sage Bharatha.
This theater is 14.62 m in length and 7.31m in width and is supported by four wooden pillars. The three main parts of this theater consist of the green room named Aniyara. The stage is called Rangam and the Mridanga-Patha for keeping the drum. The space in front of the Rangam and beside it is meant for the spectators.
In a nutshell, you can say that Kerala Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthy is the cradle that nurtures the traditional forms of art in Kerala. This center of excellence also provides training to master these art forms. A large number of internationally renowned artists of Kerala as well as India have got their training here.
So, visit Kerala Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthy on your next visit to Kerala. You will surely love and cherish what you see.