The major concentrations of artists and art forms can be found in places like 'Raghurajpur', 'Paralakhemundi', 'Digapahandi', 'Chikiti', 'Berhampur', 'Dharakot', 'Bargarh', 'Sonpur', 'Keonjhar', 'Dandasahi' of Puri, 'Sadar Block', 'Balisahi', 'Chitrakarasahi', 'DolaMandap sahi', 'Markendeswar sahi' of 'Puri Municipality'.
From among these sites, 'Raghurajpur', a village about 12 km away from Puri has attracted worldwide attention as a 'Heritage village'. It was declared as a 'Heritage village' and a 'Rural Tourism Centre' by 'The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)' in 2000.
All the residents of the village are artists. The village holds the unique distinction of having maximum concentration of 'Pattachitra' artists. As per a local survey at least 22 households are pursuing this art form but in practice all most all households in the village are linked with the Pattachitra business as an artist or as a promoter.
Raghurajpur is located near the 'Puri-Bhubaneswar' road near 'Chandanpur'. It is approximately 52kms away from Bhubaneshwar and 14kms away from Jagannath temple.
To reach this village, one has to get down at Chandanpur bus-stop which is about 10 km from Puri and 50 km from Bhubaneswar on National Highway No.203 connecting Puri and Bhubaneswar. From Chandanpur one has to take a cycle-rickshaw or walk on a 1.3 km scenic road to reach this village. One may also hire a taxi either from Puri or from Bhubaneswar to reach the village.
The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar. It takes less than 4 hours to reach Puri from the Bhubaneshwar Airport.
Raghurajpur is blessed with nature's bounty. The idyllic settings brim with greenery. Coconut groves are a common sight along with palm and mango trees. Two neat rows of houses are homes to the skilled artists.
The village of almost 120 craftsmen households has been developed by the 'Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)'. A shrine for the local deity has been built at the entrance which leads to several rows of houses.
Raghurajpur is also known for its dance tradition called 'Gotipua' and has a dance school named 'Dasabhuja Gotipua Odishi Nrutya Parisad' where many budding talents are trained.
'Gram Kutir' or village rest houses are available to visitors. An amphitheatre and water tank buildings are located nearby. The neighbouring districts of 'Chandarpur' and 'Puri' are the main sources of raw material and utility supplies.
The artists live in simple mud houses having a thatched or corrugated sheet roofs. Some have moved on to build sturdier houses with brick and concrete. The artists have made beautiful paintings on the walls of their homes.
Due to the nuclear family system prevalent here, the land has been partitioned into several smaller sections. As a result most of the families are now forced to live in smaller two room dwellings.
Adjacent houses would share a common wall to save space leaving no space for windows. The main door and the ventilating holes above them are the only source for light and fresh air.
The rooms in the houses are built one behind the other and the houses would have a front porch. So to access the innermost room one needs to go past the porch and the front room.
The front porch doubles as a work-space for the painter as well as an art demonstration space where visitors can see the artists display their art skills.
Shrines of deities made of mud and stone, are located right at the entrance to the village. This is also a community meeting place.
In this region the residents belong to various Hindu castes like the 'Maharana', 'Mahapatra', 'Sunar', 'Swain', 'Sahoo', 'Godia', 'Pandit', 'Naik', and 'Pradhan'. Castes which master in Patachitra and Palm leaf paintings are the 'Maharanas', 'Mahapatras', 'Sahoo', and 'Swain'. There are roughly about 50 to 60 families
that practice 'Patachitra paintings' and around 30 to 40 families that make 'Palm leaf paintings'. The remaining castes are involved other crafts like 'Cow-dung toys', 'Wooden toys', 'Stone carving', 'Paper Mache' and 'Coconut shell painting'. Craft is the main occupation here followed by farming.
Most children are mostly educated to an intermediate level out of which very few receive college education. The child marriages of the older times are not practiced anymore and regular marriages are the norm.
There are two types of marriage- 'Danda- Vivah' and 'Dwara or Tola Kanya Vivah'. In the former type, the groom along with a wedding procession visits the bride's house. The wedding is performed with much pomp and show and the bride's family gives an expensive dowry making it a costly affair.
In the latter however, the bride visits the groom's house for a simple ceremony involving very little dowry. However, the former is the more popular kind of marriage with over two thirds of the marriages being performed in the 'Danda-Vivah' style. The dowry consists of household articles given in a painted dowry box. Paintings of various deities are an important part of the dowry articles.
Raghurajpur is also the birthplace of 'Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra', the great 'Odissi' dancer. He earned his training in Gotipua dance in this very village. Now, 'Maa Dasabhuja Gotipua Odissi Dance School', 'Gotipua Gurukul', have been established in the village under the guidance of 'Guru Maguni Charan Das'. Even today, young boys of the village practice the Gotipua dance.
Raghurajpur also hosts an annual spring festival in the months of February and March named as 'Basant Utsav - Parampara'. It was first organized in 1993 by the 'State Tourism Department and Astern Zonal Cultural Centre', Kolkata.
The main occupation of the village is 'Pata' painting. The Chitrakara or painters are engrossed in their work most of the day. While the men folk and the boys are busy with paintings and related works the women do the cleaning and cooking, fetch water from the rivers and the wells, dry leaves and twigs for fuel and in their spare time they also help in the preparation of canvases and colours for the paintings. In the evening after the day's work, the villagers gather in front of the temples or in the 'Bhagwatha griha' and join in 'Bhajans' or just simply gossip, till it's the time for dinner and bed.
Every member of the family is invariably engaged in doing something related to the paintings. The elderly men, if not busy in playing a game of 'Ganjifa' then they keep themselves engaged in painting toys, masks, coconuts etc. which do not demand a very high quality of craftsmanship.
The clothes worn by the Chitrakaras are pertaining to tradition and the comfort with which they can work. The women are mostly draped in a sari without blouses, with the end covering their head. The men traditionally wear dhotis and do not wear shirts. Some are seen with a 'Gamcha' or towel thrown over their shoulders. Many youngsters have moved onto contemporary attires like shirts and trousers.