Dakshina Chitra. The name paints a portrait of the south. Here, south of Chennai along the East Coast Road, awaits a tableau of art and culture, of structures and installations, of sounds, colours and voices, all speaking of the great heritage -- living and preserved -- of the four south Indian states. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh come vibrantly alive here in an experience that inspires immersion. It's a giant fairground, thumping with myriad drumbeats, redolent of familiar yet unique tastes and aromas, thrumming with multilingual conversations, and built over with relocated and reconstructed ancestral homes that offer extraordinary opportunities for exploration. Marketplaces are abuzz with craftspersons lovingly explaining their art to those inclined to listen. Throngs of schoolchildren overrun the grounds, their happy insouciance underscoring the purpose for which Dakshina Chitra was established. And for those who generalize India's kaleidoscopic south with that abhorrent pejorative - Madrasi - this treasure, Dakshina Chitra, is a must-visit. For an education or, perhaps, a dose of perspective. Or, at the very least, to set the record straight.
Explore Dakshina Chitra with AZHAR MOHAMED ALI and BIJOY VENUGOPAL