Kathakali, a prominent classical dance form in India, is renowned for its captivating dance dramas. It stands as an integral part of Kerala’s cultural tapestry, serving as an iconic representation of the state. With its vibrant costumes, intricate makeup, and the nuanced movements of hands, faces, bodies, and eyes, Kathakali holds a mesmerizing appeal that draws people in. Anyone with an appreciation for theater and classical dance should make it a point to witness a Kathakali performance during their visit to Kerala.
In the local Malayalam language, Kathakali translates to “Story Play.” This traditional dance form seamlessly combines elements of dance, music, and acting to narrate tales from Indian epics. Every Kathakali performer, whether male or female, adorns a painted face, using mime and animated expressions, along with intricate hand gestures, to convey stories set to music. The music accompanying Kathakali is enriched with Carnatic ragas, while the traditional instruments used in the orchestra include Chenda, Maddalam, Idakka, Shanku, Chengila, and Ilathalam. For those interested in experiencing this majestic art form, this article offers insights into some of the best places in Kochi where you can witness Kathakali performances.
Kerala Kathakali Centre
When it comes to experiencing Kathakali performances in Kochi, the Kerala Kathakali Centre stands out as the prime destination. The primary artists at this venue are trained at the renowned Kerala Kalamandalam, a prestigious institution for mastering Indian classical dance forms. You can catch these captivating shows daily from 6 pm to 7.30 pm in an air-conditioned hall at the Kerala Kathakali Centre. Situated in the heart of Fort Kochi, it is conveniently located near the iconic Santa Cruz Basilica.
Kerala Folklore Museum
While attending a Kathakali performance at the Folklore Museum may come with a higher price tag, it undoubtedly offers one of the most opulent settings in Kochi to enjoy this traditional dance form in utmost comfort. The venue boasts a lavishly adorned and air-conditioned hall adorned with authentic Kerala murals and wooden architecture, ensuring that your time spent at this cultural center is nothing short of an exhilarating experience. In fact, even Prince Charles himself selected this venue for his Kathakali performance when he visited India. The Folklore Museum is conveniently located on the southern side of Ernakulam, near Thevara ferry.
Cochin Cultural Centre
The Cochin Cultural Centre is undeniably a prime location to enjoy the enthralling art of Kathakali performances. On a monthly basis, you have the opportunity to partake in night-long plays skillfully presented by renowned artists. The club hosts these captivating dance dramas in either the TDM hall or the Ernakulathappan Hall, both situated in close proximity to the Shiva Temple in Ernakulam.
Opting for this venue to witness a Kathakali performance ensures easy access to comprehensive information regarding the venue, show timings, and a full schedule of performances, all readily available at major tourist centers across Kochi.
Dr. Devan’s Kathakali
This cultural center, bearing the name of its founder, Dr. Devan, has a long-standing tradition in Kerala as one of the pioneers in hosting Kathakali performances for tourists. Situated in close proximity to the Ernakulam Junction railway station, Dr. Devan’s Kathakali offers visitors the opportunity to witness this captivating dance performance from 6:45 pm to 8 pm. The shows at this venue commence with an enlightening discourse on Indian mythology and philosophy, both intricately intertwined with the essence of this art form.
One standout feature of Kairali Kathakali is the opportunity it provides to experience the traditional dance form of Kerala in an intimate and cozy setting. Situated in the Fort Kochi area, it is conveniently positioned across from the charming Brunton Boatyard Hotel.
Situated along Kalvathy Road, across from the Fort House, Greenix Village in Fort Cochin stands as the premier and most opulent venue in Kochi to experience the grandeur of a Kathakali performance. The Rhythms Theatre offers a rich source of entertainment. Sundays are the ideal time to visit, as you’ll have the opportunity to witness a spectacular performance that seamlessly weaves together elements not only from Kathakali but also from Theyyam, Kalaripayattu, and Mohiniyattam.
- Kerala Kathakali Centre: This center offers daily Kathakali shows at 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. The shows are held in an air-conditioned theater and tickets cost INR 500 for adults and INR 250 for children.
- Cochin Cultural Centre: This center also offers Kathakali shows on most days of the week. The shows are held at 7:00 PM and tickets cost INR 300 for adults and INR 150 for children.
- Kathakali Performance Center: This center is located in Fort Kochi and offers Kathakali shows on weekends. The shows are held at 7:00 PM and tickets cost INR 400 for adults and INR 200 for children.
- Kathakali Sampradaya: This center is located in Ernakulam and offers Kathakali shows on a regular basis. The shows are held at 7:00 PM and tickets cost INR 500 for adults and INR 250 for children.
If you are interested in seeing a Kathakali show, We recommend booking your tickets in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly. You can book tickets online or at the box office of the respective centers.
Here are some tips for enjoying a Kathakali show:
- Arrive early so that you can get a good seat.
- Dress appropriately. Kathakali is a traditional art form, so it is respectful to dress modestly.
- Be quiet during the performance. Kathakali is a highly expressive art form, and the performers need to be able to concentrate.
- Follow along with the story. Kathakali stories are often based on Hindu epics, so it can be helpful to have some familiarity with the stories before the show.
- Enjoy the spectacle! Kathakali is a visually stunning art form, so take your time to appreciate the costumes, makeup, and movements of the performers.