Nearly 17 km from Puri towards Konark, a non-discript and sleepy village Podatara wakes up in the morning to showcase its artistic excellence to the world. A chilly winter morning does not restrict sculptors from this village to gather as usual at Dhruba Art Institute on the roadside, to finish their unfinished sand carvings. Once at work, they seem to be lost in a different world. A world of artistic passion and creative excellence. Here one can see passion and professional brilliance going together.
Situated at mid-way on Puri-Konark Marine Drive Road, Podatara village in Puri district of Odisha is famous for its sand art and sculptures created here speaks about creativity of Odia craftmanship. Extremely rich tradition and amazing art and craft of this part of Odisha has made the state worldwide unique and matchless. Artists work on sand stone and granite and their artistic skill are unsurpassable in the world.
Artists of Podata prove that stone sings, dances and defines. Artists here can make you believe that stone have life, stone feels and speaks as well. And this is the tremendous creativity of craftmanship , which has been proved for generation. Carvings on the several temples, monuments throughout Odisha are the unspoken example of Odia stone carve. Puri, Konark and Bhubneshwar are main centres of sand art. Sand stone figures of Gods, Goddess and Apasaras are really amazing.
Subhal, 40, an artist at the Institute says, “ Like many other fellow villagers,he also got trained at this institute and now he works here full time. The Dhruba Art Institute manufactures and exports sculptures to all parts of the country and abroad.”
How long it takes to be trained in this trade? There is no fix schedule for that like an academic institute, says Subhal. According to him, normally it takes 1-2 years for a young artist to be trained but sometimes it takes even more. There were people also who could not learn craftmanship at all, despite spending many years.
Dhruba Charan Swain,60, owns the Dhruba Art Institute. Swain says apart from exporting all kinds of handicraft goods, the Institute has trained nearly 250 young residents of Podatar village. “ We provide free training to those who are interested in this traditional artistic works and even engage them as employees,” he adds.
For Swain, stone carving is not just a profession, but also a mission to popularise the art among youngsters. Swain and his team are virtually sculpting poetry on stone and till date he has trained around 250 sculptors and mission to popularise the art would continue.
“Though many families of Podatara have taken up other jobs, however, there are many families were practising stone carving. I was also trained by my father and grand father, I also want to popularise and promote this art among the people.”
Today, his passion to train youngsters, helps in getting the best result and Budha statues narrate the excellence story. Buddha statues in sandstone has been exported to many countries by the Institute.
Swain wants his art to become popular and his trainees have geared up to carry forward the baton.
Pointing towards a huge Budha sculpture, which has made to meet an overseas order and cost Rs 2.80 lakh to the buyer, Swain says, “Creating excellent art and magnificent sculpture in using sand is called sand art and to carve a sand sculpture , the raw material is the only clean and fine grained sand mixed with water .With the help of this type of sand and by the magic of fingures , an artist can carve a beautiful and attractive sculpture. A sculptor at our Institute earns between Rs 500-1000 per day. So we are not only training the people but also provide respectable livelihood.”