Pipli and Raghurajpur Handicraft Villages of Odisha

Odisha, on the east coast of India, is known for its handicrafts and tribal art forms. What if we told you that there are villages where the residents are artists and art is their primary source of livelihood? Pipli is known for its applique and patchwork, while Raghurajpur is famous for its Pattachitra paintings. Pipli and Raghurajpur villages are on the way from Bhubaneshwar to Puri and are a must-visit if you are an art lover. It is your chance to watch the artists up close and buy genuine art pieces. Read on to know how we went about exploring Pipli and Raghurajpur handicraft villages in Odisha.

Applique art products at Pipli @Rafiq Somani


After lunch, we leave from Bhubaneshwar for Puri. The plan is to stop en route and visit the handicraft villages of Pipli and Raghurajpur. Our first stop is Pipli, a village known for its vibrant applique or what the locals call Chandua work. Pieces of fabric are hand-stitched in different patterns and shapes on the main fabric. Birds, animals, huts, gods and goddesses have all found a place in the patchwork art. Even stories and narratives feature in this art form. Chandu work, for centuries, has been used to decorate the raths/chariots of the Jagannath Rath Yatra and even the temples.

Applique Diwali Lanterns @Rafiq Somani

When we enter Pipli, the main street has shops on either side dotted with colourful handicrafts. Diwali lanterns, umbrellas, wall hangings, bags and myriad other items are vying for our attention. It’s a riot of colours and a feast for the eyes. Our driver, Pintu, parks the car along the road, and we go about exploring the shops. The shopkeepers welcome visitors and are eager to show us their art form. The shops don’t just sell applique work but also other handicrafts like wooden toys, handmade paintings, pattachitra paintings on kettles, bottles, buckets, woven mats, and even beaded jewellery. The varieties are endless, and we pick up some modern applique cushion covers with contemporary designs and handmade paintings.

Woodwork and Applique Work of Lord Jaganath Puri

Wooden Toys and Artefacts at Pipli @Rafiq Somani

Modern and Traditional Applique Work @Rafiq Somani

Beadwork at Pipli @Rafiq Somani


Next, we head to Raghurajpur Heritage Crafts village, which has received the ‘Best Tourism Village 2023’ award in the silver category by the Ministry of Tourism. It is close to sunset as we reach the village. The first thing that catches our attention is a mural from the epic Ramayana with Ram, Sita Laxman and Hanuman bowing to them. In an enclosure are the busts of well-known artists from Raghurajpur including Padma award winners namely- Dr. Jagannath Mohapatra, Padmashree Maguni Charan Das, Padma Vibhushana Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Dr. Jagannath Mohapatra is a prominent Pattachitra artist, while the other two were famous Gotipua dancers.

The walls of the locals’ homes have vibrant paintings of gods, goddesses, flowers, birds, animals and so on. The doors of the artists’ homes are wide open as they welcome visitors. In fact, their homes couple up as studios where their artwork is on display. We see artists in the verandas of their homes busy painting and selling art.

Vibrantly decorated homes at Raghurajpur @Rafiq Somani

Artists painting and selling art work @Rafiq Somani


Raghurajpur is famous for the ancient art form of Pattachitra. ‘Patta’ means ‘cloth’, and ‘Chitra’ means ‘painting’ in Sanskrit, so Pattachitra means ‘Cloth Painting.’ The themes of these paintings centre around mythological stories of Ramayana and Mahabharat, folklore, nature, and religious figures. We see lots of paintings of Lord Jagannath, Dash Avatars (10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu), and Tree of Life with birds and animals.

Pattachitra Painting @Rafiq Somani

We enter an artist’s studio and see artwork displayed from floor to ceiling. He proudly shows us his artwork, and we are awed at the intricacy and detailing that goes into making each of these paintings. I am drawn to the Talapatra Chitra, a style of pattachitra, done on a series of dried strips of palm leaves strung together. The painting is foldable like a Japanese fan or scroll and easy to carry. Artists use black ink to etch patterns and designs on the turmeric treated dried palm leaves. I am looking for an A4-sized painting, which he doesn’t have, but he quickly introduces us to another artist who has them in the required size. The camaraderie that these artists share is praiseworthy.

Inside Raghurajpur Artists’ Home Cum Studios @Rafiq Somani

Talapatra Chitra @Rafiq Somani

We go to the next artist Sachikant Sahoo’s studio, which also has myriad artworks on display. Sahoo explains that originally pattachitra was done on cloth and palm leaves, but over time, other objects have started being used as a base. He lists nine types of bases used for pattachitra- canvas, silk fabric, palm leaves, paper mâché, cow dung toys, coconut, supari/ beetle nut, bottles, and aluminium. 

Pattachitra on a Aluminium Kettles and Buckets and Silk @Rafiq Somani

Pattachitra on Canvas and Coconut @Rafiq Somani

Paper mache and Aluminium containers with Pattachitra

Vocal for Local

Sahoo shows us the Talapatra Chitra in the size I want. It has different kinds of trees of life etched on it. I have seen this art form at numerous haats and handicraft exhibitions selling at 3-4 times the price, I am more than happy to purchase it directly from an artist and give him its worth. As an artist, I know handmade items take hours to create. Clients often find them expensive compared to machine-made, mass-produced items. We need to be vocal for local and support these artists so that these art forms don’t die down and survive for future generations.

Gotipua Dance Form

As we leave the village, we see a group of girls dressed in dancing costumes with their hair and make-up done. They are all set for a Gotipua dance performance. This dance form is a predecessor of Odissi Classical Dance. Only when we look closely at the dancers do we realise that they are not girls but boys dressed as girls!

Gotipua Dancers @Rafiq Somani

But why do boys perform this dance? It’s a vigorous dance form with acrobatic movements, which could be a probable reason. Famous Odissi dancer Kelucharan Mohapatra started his dance journey as a Gotipua dancer. We are running short of time and can’t wait for the dance performance. We leave Raghurajpur and head to Puri. You can read the Puri article here.


Nearest Airport: The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar Biju Patnaik International Airport, with connectivity to major cities in India.

Distances: Bhubaneshwar-Raghurajpur: 52 km or 1 hour. Pipli- Raghurajpur: 27 km or 35 mins. Puri-Raghurajpur: 10 km or 25 mins.

Where to stay: There is limited accommodation in Pipli and Raghurajpur handicraft villages. Most tourists either stay in Puri or Bhubaneshwar and undertake a day trip. You can do a net search for hotels depending on budget and comfort.

 Travel Tip: Be alert of the “fake” Raghurajpur, that you will pass through just before entering the “real” village. Taxi drivers and tour operators may stop here and tell you it is the real Raghurajpur. Please insist you want to go to the “real” village. Show them the pic of the painting at the Raghurajpur village entrance to avoid confusion.

Raghurajpur Artist Details: There are several artists you can pick artwork from. Here is the contact of the artist we picked artwork from. Pattachitra Sachikant: +91-7873413607 and +91-7978680484

Odisha Driver: Pintu-798630261. He was not just our driver but also unofficial guide explaining the details of the monuments/places and narratives behind them.

Travel Planning Help: Om Leisure Holidays helped us plan this trip.