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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Vistas of Bharat: The Rich Elements That Encompass Indian Culture

It brings us immense pride to introduce to you ‘Vistas of Bharat’, a series of exciting cultural explorations to discover what truly makes India so special. So hold our hands, and walk along with us as we traverse the path of discovery and knowledge.



Vistas of Bharat

Friends, Indians, Countrymen! Lend me your ears (or eyes). Some wise old person walked along mysterious roads and said, “The greatest journey you can take is within yourself.” Amidst the uncertainty and chaos in the outer world, we bring you a unique exploratory experience of the amazing heritage, places and things of our rich culture. Therefore, it is with utmost pleasure that we invite you to ‘Vistas of Bharat’, a deep cultural exploration into diverse Indian art forms and elements that live within all of us. All you need is yourself as we all carry the deep knowledge and ancient wisdom of what defines us as Indians.

Over the coming days, Vistas of Bharat will introduce you to dance forms, great literature, musical repertoire, figures lost to history and enchanting myths of India. As generations upon generations have passed by, we might have found ourselves a lot more distanced from the memory of our ancestors, who left their culture as a last will and testimony to us. Needless to say, we are the conduit of its preservation and harbingers of its change. The present generation is restless and charged as it stands at the precipice of some of the most aggravating challenges the world has yet to pose and so it finds itself reminiscing. Prepare yourselves to be befuddled by the beauty of all that was, is and could be.

So are you ready to take this journey within yourself?


Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Vistas of Bharat: A Salvation Through The Odissi Dance

From the realm of spirituality and antiquity, Odissi dance form connectsthe abstract and the material and synchronises the divine and humane.




Sculpted in the archaeologically important religious sites related to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism of Odisha, Odissi, finds its roots in the ancient Hindu text of Natya Shastra. Archeological survey dates its origin in around 2nd century B.C. owing to the sculptures analogous to it in the caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri near Bhubaneswar. It is a dance-drama genre that narrates a mythical story with a spiritual message, parable or philosophical verses from ancient Hindu texts and pertinently originated as a temple dance. It was originally performed by female dancers called Maharis when they were appointed in the royal courts, a troupe of boys called Gotipuas took their place in the temples. The destruction of temples during the Mughal era, thus, resulted in the decline of the art form. 17th century did witness some deration owing to comparatively lenient rulers, however, the anti-dance movement during colonial rule saw its further degradation. Post-colonial revival in the nationalistic fervour is mainly accredited to Odiya poet Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak and the dance form owes its name to him as well. Perfecting the synchronisation of hand gestures, footwork, facial expressions and most importantly, the torso movement, an emotive and sensuous performance of Odissi is formed.

The body movements revolve around two main positions, called Chowk (masculine gesture) and Tribhanga (feminine gesture). The repertoire opens with Manglacharan, offering to mother earth followed by Pushpanjali (flower offering), invocation, Nritta (pure rhythmic dance; Batu), Nritya (enactment using codified gestures of dance), Natyam (play performance which is usually a group performance) and ends with Moksha (characterised by quick movements to symbolise salvation of soul). An Odissi music plays accompanied with instruments like Mardala, harmonium, flute, sitar, violin and cymbals in the background.

The dancer is dressed in a silk saree which is pleated and is adorned with prints of traditional regional designs. Ornamented with traditional silver jewellery and hairdo, representing a temple spire, a performer, is beautified for a beautiful show.

With the themes of love, verses with euphemistic metaphors of sexual union and embellished with Shringara rasa in Odissi, performance is a blatant celebration of human fallibility. It is an audacious celebration of intimacy. In the modern era, focused at breaking archaic structures blinded by philistinism, Odissi proves to be a dance form breaking stereotypes and reflecting on the treasure trove of lessons embedded in culture.

Sharmila Mukherjee

Sharmila Mukherjee is an Odissi dancer, choreographer and the founder and artistic director of Sanjali Centre for Odissi Dance in Banglore. The centre was established in 2004. After completing her studies, and graduation, Sharmila Mukherjee followed her passion for Odissi. Sharmila Mukherjee had shown extreme talent and reverence for the art form at a very early age. When she was 16, she performed the main role of Chandalika in Tagore’s dance drama “Chandalika”. Her grace, poise and stage presence caught the eyes of the critics.

Credits: YouTube (Sharmila Mukerjee)

Laavanya Ghosh

Laavanya Ghosh is a prolific dancer from Kolkata, who moved to Bhubaneswar to fulfil her aspirations for Odissi. Laavanya Ghosh’s mother wished for her to pursue classical dances, and today she is a beautiful performer, who has crossed many of the barriers which society threw at her. Through Odissi, Laavanya Ghosh has incorporated the three Ds in her life: Dedication, Determination, and Discipline. She worships Odissi, and stands as a great artist to look up to!

Credits: YouTube (Laavanya Ghosh)

Sujata Mohapatra

Sujata Mohapatra is an Odissi dancer and teacher. She was born in 1968, and in 1987 travelled to Odisha to continue her training in Odissi. Sujata Mohapatra started dancing Odissi classical with Sahu’s dance troupe in programs across Odisha. She continued to evolve her dance form, and is known as one of the foremost soloist Odissi dancers of her generation. She has also done research work in the arts of Odissi. Sujata Mohapatra is also the principal of  ‘Srjan’ (Odissi Nrityabasa), a prime Odissi Dance Institution founded by MGuru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She has a number of accolades to her name like Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 2017, Nritya Choodamani from Krishna Gana Sabha, etc. 

Credits: YouTube (Habitat World)

Mahina Khanum 

Mahina Khanum is an Odissi dancer and teacher based in Paris, France. IFor the past 10 years Mahina has been working towards bringing Odissi under the global spotlight. In 2020, during the pandemic, Mahina Khanum through Odissi dance, promoted Covid-19 safety protocols. She is also artistic director of @Lezartsmedia which is currently working for the promotion of Indian culture.

Credits: YouTube (Mahina Khanum)
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Vistas of Bharat: Revisiting the Classical Dance Form ‘Sattriya’

Introducing one of the oldest classical dance forms of India, ‘Sattriya’, that has the ability to captivate the audience with its grace.




With the origins rooting back to 15th century, ‘Sattriya Nritya’ is one of the most graceful classical dance forms practiced in the eastern parts of Assam. Sattriya is the depiction of stories through expressive dance movements. In other words, it is a dance-drama performing arts that originated from the Vaishnavism monasteries, or Sattra, of Assam.

Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev, a great saint-scholar of the 15th century is considered the father of Sattriya. He adapted the mythological tales of Lord Krishna in a dance performance. The dance form revolutionized and started being performed by both males, or paurashik bhangi style, and females, or matri bhangi, belonging to the sattras as well as the ordinary citizens. It was until 2000 that the Sangeet Natak Akademi of India recognized Sattriya as a classical dance.
Today we bring to you some great artists who have kept alive the legacy of the classical dance form. The artists continue to preach and perform the mythological legends of Lord Krishna incorporated in the slow movements of hands, body, feet and facial expressions.

Jatin Goswami

A Padma Shri awardee, a guru, a master of the art and an exuberant performer are few of the many titles Shri Jatin Goswami wears on his sleeve. An institution in himself, Shri Goswami ji was born in a small village of Assam on August 2nd,1933. He is considered one of the most influential figures in the Sattriya dance community. He played a very vital role in getting Sattriya the recognition and title of a classical dance within the Sangeet Natak Akademi. His performances, that are the finest in the league, have gathered applause and praise not only within the nation but from abroad as well. Shri Goswami ji holds various wards, among which, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Nrityaachaarya Award are a few to name.

Credits: YouTube (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts)

Bristi Rekha Mahanta

Born and brought up in Guwahati, 1991, Bristi is a young and emerging Sattriya performer. Bristi started learning Sattriya at a young age, with her father as her first guru and completed Bachelors in Sattriya alongside high school. She was further guided by Sri Naren Chandra Barua, Padma Shri Awardee Shri Jatin Goswami and late Dr Jagganath Mahanta. As a budding artist, she has received ‘Young Artist Scholarship’ from Ministry of Culture, Government of India, is a graded artist of Doordarshan Kendra, Guwahati and also heads the ‘Chandamukha Sattriya Academy’, an institution that trains in Sattriya and was founded by her late father.

Credits: YouTube( Bristi Rekha Mahanta)

Ranjumoni Saikia

Another gem in the class of sattriya dancers is Ranjumoni Saikia, the daughter of great guru and visionary Shri Rasheshwar Saikia Borbayan, who himself contributed vastly in the proliferation of the dance form. After his death, his daughter took the job upon herself with her sister and continues to carry forward the legacy of her father. Practicing since the age of five, she now teaches Ojhapali in Sangeet Sattra along with her sister, Rinjumoni Saikia. With her very first performance itself, she also promoted women empowerment by going on stage with women artistes only. And not only has her contribution been limited to the stage, she has also authored a book, ‘Matiakhara Pathyakram’ that gives the readers a deeper insight to the dance form.

Credits: YouTube (Sangeet Sattra Guwahati)

Anannya Mahanta

Hailing from the Moira-Mora Sattra of Sivsagar district and born and brought up in Guwahati, Anannya was introduced to Sattriya at the age of five. Her learning started under Guru Govinda Saikia and later continued her training at Rangayan, an Academy of Dance, Theatre and Music. She completed her training in Sattriya under the guidance of Guru Adhyapak Dr Bhabananda Borbayan and Smt. Sharodi Saikia, attaining her Visharad degree in Sattriya. As an artist and a great on-stage performer, she has attained Junior as well as Senior Scholarship in Sattriya under Misnistry of Culture, Government of India and holds the tagline of ‘a graded Artiste’ under Doordarshan Kendra, Guwahati.

Credits: YouTube (Anannya Mahanta)
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Vistas of Bharat: Tracing The Footsteps From Yakshgaana To Kuchipudi

Another chapter in the Vistas of Bharat Campaign is the Kuchipudi Art form led by passionate dancers like Yamini Reddy, Veena Mani and more




Born out of the wit of a visionary Vaishnava poet, Siddhendra Yogi, as a sub-form of Yakshgaana tradition of south-eastern coast, Kuchipudi, is the official dance form of Andhra Pradesh. The flavour of aestheticism in this dance drama has evolved out of its roots in the natya shastra. Like other classical dance forms of India, Kuchipudi stands on the base of mythology, history of performances in temples whose popularity was diffused by travelling bards.

The initial forms of the dance form called Vaishnava Bhagavatulus date back to the 12th century and are accredited to a Sanskrit scholar, Jayadeva. Modern adaptations of the former owe their existence to a saint and a great devotee of Lord Krishna, Tirtha Narayanayati. The nomenclature of the dance form is bound with fetters of mythological tales. It is believed that in the 17th century, a visionary poet Siddhendra Yogi, disciple of Tirtha Narayanayati ‘conceived’ the idea, rather a command from Lord Krishna through a dream, for structuring a dance-drama based on the myth of paarijaata flower for Sathyabhaama. It was then when Bhaamaakalaapam was choreographed and its supremacy of excellence in the entire repertoire of the dance remains insusceptible to time. The performers for this dance drama were imported from the present day village in Andhra Pradesh called Kuchipudi.

Kuchipudi flourished in the late mediaeval period by support from Mughal emperors but in the colonial times, banned temple dancing wounded its popularity along with the other classical dance forms. Post- colonial revival was taken care by personalities like Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri, Vempati Venkatanarayana Sastri and Chinta Venkataramayya. Amidst the melodies of Carnatic music with cymbals and violin o harmonium playing synchronising with a live vocalist, repertoire begins with an invocation (usually Ganesh Vandana), followed by nritta (abstract dance), shabdam, natya (dramatic twist in the narrative of dance), nrityaabhinaya (visual poetry) and concludes with a tarangam or excerpts sung from mythological texts devoted to Lord Krishna. Male performers are dressed in a dhoti and females in a sari with regional hairdo and jewellery honouring Vedic symbolisms.

Many reforms are a landmark in this cultural journey, earlier only Brahmin boys performed the dance modern day Kuchipudi has no such obligation of gender and caste and acrobatic techniques have become a distinctive feature of its repertoire. The foot trace of the evolution of this dance form includes transience, but it is a fact to be adored that Kuchipudi remains true to its cultural roots. In the current India, with increasing cultural negligence, it is a parable on holding one’s soil.

Veena Mani 

Veena Mani has been a Kuchipudi dancer for two and a half decades now. She started this journey as a 6-year-old, and today, she is one of the leading Kuchipudi dancers and also a teacher. For Veena, just dancing and performing are not enough. She’s still on the journey of unravelling the layers of Kuchipudi and understanding the nuances of this art form. In this phenomenal performance, we can see Veena Mani doing the Tarangam (rhythmic sequences while dancing on the rim of a brass plate, simultaneously balancing a pot of water on her head). She is one of the few Kuchipudi dancers trying to revitalise and bring to the world this dying unique piece of Kuchipudi’s stock.

Credits: YouTube DanceScribe

Dilip Diwakar 

Owing to his grandmother’s interest in watching the old classical movies, Dilip Diwakar got introduced to the classical art forms of India from his childhood. The legendary classical dancers like Padmini, Vyjayanthimala, Kumari Kamala enamoured him. However, financial problems didn’t allow him to take dance classes. It was only when Dilip, as a 16-year-old, showed his parents the exuberant talent for classics in him, that they searched for a Guru. A learning teen amidst the learning toddlers wasn’t easy on his part, but despite all, Dilip Diwakar stands as a graceful Kuchipudi artist today. Dance is an unquenchable journey for him.

Credits: YouTube Dilip Diwakar

Manaswini Avvari

A music and drama and dialogue enthusiast, Manaswini Avvari found the perfect harmony in Kuchipudi. Manaswini Avvari started learning dance at the age of 8. She grew up with this art form, and held it close to herself, as it was her best and safest means of communication. As an adolescent teen, she found solace in Kuchipudi as it helped her release all that was bottled up inside her. The origin of Kuchipudi, and the socio-political aspects of Kuchipudi, enthuse her and bring her closer to the ancestral roots of her country. The exceptional Kuchipudi dancer, Manaswini, shows her alacrity and grace in this dance cover.

Credits: YouTube Manaswini Avvari

Aruna Rekha Varanasy 

A senior Kuchipudi Dancer, Aruna Rekha Varanasy, expresses her extreme gratitude to her mother for introducing her to this beautiful dance form. At the age of 9, Rekha didn’t find the dance appealing. However, with passing years, Kuchipudi took emotional and spiritual control over her. Her passion for Kuchipudi knows no bounds. A teacher, and a full-time Kuchipudi Dancer, Rekha has an enormity to the way she puts her soul to this revered dance form. 

Credits: YouTube Aruna Rekha Varanasy

Yamini Reddy

One of the leading Kuchipudi dancers of today’s generation is the ever-glowing Yamini Reddy. She is the elder daughter & disciple of legendary Kuchipudi exponents Padma Bhushan Dr(s) Raja Radha Reddy and Kaushalya Reddy. Her grace and brimming control of the dance form has enamoured audiences both in India and abroad. Yamini Reddy is one of the first dancers ever to perform at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London in 2011. Currently, she teaches Kuchipudi to students of all ages at her institute in Hyderabad, known as Natya Tarangini. 

Credits: YouTube Yamini Reddy
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Vistas of Bharat: The Enchanting Dance Form Of “Mohiniyattam”

Mohiniyattam, the classical dance of Kerala, has the ability to hold one’s heart in captivity with its subtle and gentle feminine movements.




We find traces of its history in the Natya Shastra, an ancient Sanskrit text of Hinduism. It falls in the category of Lāsyā dance, a dance form associated with the consort of Lord Shiva often referred to as Goddess Parvati. The primary characteristic of the dance form is grace and delicacy of movements. The origins of the Mohiniyattam traces back to the 11th-century temple sculptures of Kerala. Additionally, the record of the earliest description of the dance form is present in the 16th-century book Vyavaharamala by Namboothiri.

According to the myth, Mohini is a Vishnu avatar of an enchantress who retrieves the Amrita (immortality potion) lost to Asuras (evil) during the mythological war between the Gods and the Asuras. Dedicated to Vaishnavism, the dance form derives its name from the same tale as Mohiniyattam. Traditionally, women have performed the dance form, and the preference continues to hold women as reverential performers of the

Owing to the seductive expressions and gestures involved in this dance form, the moral crusaders sidetracked the dance as promoting ‘erotic culture’ during the colonial period under the anti-dance movement. However, post-colonial India witnessed its revival, with the help of nationalist spirit, like other Indian classical dance forms.

The repertoire includes Chollukettu (invocation), Jatiswaram (pure dance sans emotions), Padavarnam (play, usually including mimicry), Padam (song), Tillana (a rhythmic piece of music produced) and Slokam (traditional verse recitation). Musical instruments such as mridangam, flute, veena and cymbals weave the melody for the hybrid lyrics of Sanskrit, Tamil and Malayalam.

Appointing finesse with gently swaying foot movements with no stress and hand gestures flowing with the storyline and feminine expressions, Mohiniyattam is a subtle and sentimental form of dancing. Hair tied in a chignon on the left side of the head adorned with flowers, dressed in a white sari with golden brocade, pleated sheet supported with a belt and ornamented with lightweight jewellery; the dancer is made ready for an expressive dance. 

It is one of the dance forms that project females as the protagonist. Serving as the testimony to the creative expression of the feminine energy of ancient India, Mohiniyattam holds the seat of significance in the contemporary world.

Kalamandalam Leelamma

A revered luminary, Kalamandalam Leelamma is globally acclaimed for her accomplishment as a Mohiniyattam dancer. Her magisterial recitals uphold a delicate interplay between the exhibition of grace and exactitude in the stylistics of performance. Under the guidance of her guru, she played a crucial role in the rejuvenation of Mohiniyattam. In 2017, she departed to the heavenly abode. Although her absence has created a sense of void in the world of performative arts, her students and admirers continue to remember her as a vigorous proponent of the conventional framework associated with the traditional form of classical dance. Across the expanse of her career, she cultivated a repertoire that cemented the contemporary dance form of Mohiniyattam.

Credits: YouTube (kalamandalam Krishnapriya nb)

Kalamandalam Kshemavathy

When as a young girl, Kalamandalam Kshemavathy joined the academy, the repertoire of Mohiniyattam was limited, and the dance form was in the early stage of revival. Her contribution lies in presenting a fresh perspective on modern specialism in the traditional art form. Not only does she vigorously defend the deep philosophy of Mohiniyattam, she simultaneously encourages the inclusion of elements from the popular culture in the dance form. The distinguishing feature of her career is the boldness with which she experimented and reinvented the techniques and musicality of the performance to broaden the concept of Mohiniyattam.

Credits: YouTube (Navaneetham)

Pallavi Krishnan

An alumnus of Shantiniketan and Kerala Kalamandalam, Pallavi Krishnan moved from West Bengal to Kerala to pursue her passion for Mohiniyattam. Fascinated by the grace and abhinaya of Mohiniyattam, she embarked on the journey of becoming a Mohiniyattam artiste. And there was never a reason to look back. Garnering great appreciation in the homeland and overseas, she performs as a solo artist and curates group choreographies that reveal the artistic range of her expressive performance. 

Credits: YouTube (WildFilmsIndia)

Manjula Murthy

Hailing from the small town of Davangere, Manjula Murthy was a young girl when she joined Nrityagram, a modern gurukul that offers training in classical art forms. Destined to be part of the first batch of Mohiniyattam trainees, she practised the dance routines in the conventional Guru Shishya form of learning. Through rigorous devotion and discipline, she developed a deeper understanding of Mohiniyattam. As the years rolled by, her stellar performances paved the way for national and global recognition as a danseuse who harmonises the gentle movements with soft expressions of Mohiniyattam.

Credits: YouTube (saad sikandar)
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Vistas Of Bharat: Eccentric Dance From The Foothills Of Manipur

Manipuri or Jagoi as its name suggests is a regional dance form of the northeastern state of Manipur and is a beautiful union of cultural and folk dance.




According to the mythological beliefs the native people of Manipur were called Gandharvas and they were efficient in this dance form. Although the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana mention about a dance tradition in Manipur it is believed the tradition cascaded to progeny verbally and the earliest reliable mentions of the dance form are found in the cultural texts of 18th century. It is also believed that the 18th century king Bhagyachandra dreamt of the idea of Rasleela dance form and structured the dance form which can be said to be a precursor to the Manipuri dance.

The geographical location of Manipur has kept it away from the susceptibility of foreign influence through invaders and maintains its idiosyncrasy which can be witnessed in the cultural dance form Manipuri which remains true to the Indian roots. The dance form focuses precisely on the dexterous hand and upper body movements.

There are two generic styles of Manipuri first, Tandava, capturing the themes of Shaktism and Shaivism and second, Lasya dedicated to Vaishnavism. In the Lasya style portrayal of Raslila or the love stories of Radha and Krishna is prevalent and Manipuri is basically known for this style. In the honor of the sylvan deity Umang Lai, the dance is performed in the Lai Haraoba festival.

It is known for its spectrum of movements ranging from delicate, sinuous and emotive feminine to aggressive masculine movements. The facial expressions aren’t exaggerated unlike in other classical dance-drama forms and sarvangabhinaya or the full body movement is the eccentricity of this dance form. The repertoire is structured according to the season in the Rasleela and the basic step being called Chali or Chari. There are five Ras, four of which are dedicated to each season and the fifth one can be performed anytime. Other styles include Thang-ta (inspired by martial arts), Sanskirtanas and choloms (masculine aspect).

The costumes are creatively unique and indigenous, a female being dressed in a traditional bridal dress called Potloi with a barrel shaped decorated skirt called Kumil and male is dressed in a dhoti. The tunes of high pitched classical Manipur music, Nat, with its trills and modulations accompany in reverberating the heartbeats of people. The instruments like Kartal, Pung, Pena and flute add to the effect. 

Inspired by the beauty of Manipuri dance Rabindranath Tagore invited Guru Naba Kumar to teach Rasleela at Shantiniketan in 1926. Through our initiative Vistas of Bharat, it’s time to cast light upon the dimming flame Tagore illuminated.

Credits: YouTube (WildFilmsIndia)
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