The people of Kerala, have immense pride and affection for their abundant and fascinating art forms. That is why a major theater festival feels right at home here. The fest takes place at Thrissur, which is credited as the cultural capital of Kerala. Several prestigious art institutes like Kerala Kalamandalam, Kerala Sahitya Akademi, School Of Drama & Fine Arts, and more are situated here. Let’s find out more about experiencing the International Theater Festival of Kerala.
The first edition of this festival was held in 2008. It was the brainchild of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademy which has been in the theater realm since its inception in 1958. For this festival, they joined forces with the Cultural Department of the Government of Kerala. Since then, it has become a cherished annual fixture in the city’s cultural calendar.
The festival provides a spotlight to worthy national and international plays. It offers the audience a great opportunity to witness high-quality theatrical performances, by some of the best artists out there. The groups that perform here are not a part of the mainstream theater space, and bring forth some unique perspectives and concepts like never seen before. These contemporary, experimental, and independent groups, from around the world, are what make the festival super fascinating.
Along with popularizing the art of theater, the festival also aims to bring in some pivotal changes. It focuses on and brings forth the issues that plague society, along with ensuring that the new edition will be bigger and better, and has a new theme. The themes are aligned with the festival’s aim to bring positive changes in society. In the past, themes like ‘Reclaiming the Margins’ and ‘Imagining Communities’ have been showcased. Because of all these reasons, the festival has climbed up the ladder and is now considered one of the best theater festivals in the country. It is usually held for 8 days in G.Sankara Pillai Cultural Complex in Thrissur city.
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The festival is a celebration of theater and with its arrival, it turns the venue into a place where plays are not just performed and applauded; but respected, thought upon, and discussed. This is why it has such a special place in the eyes of theater groups everywhere. Groups from countries such as Germany, France, Japan, China, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and more have been a part of this festival in the past. The performances here are paired with thought-provoking events like workshops and seminars.
Multiple plays and supporting events take place every day. The feeling of experiencing the performances first-hand is different from watching a normal theater performance on any other day. With the latter, you know that you have to head back to day-to-day life once it ends. But at the theater festival, the ending of one show means the next one is about to start soon. It is a journey that goes on for multiple days and it is exciting to think about how the next show is going to be. The presence of workshops and seminars makes it even more engaging.
Several powerful plays have been performed since the festival’s inception. The fest has come a long way to become a respected and cherished place, where people know that they are going to see some of the best work that the independent theater world has to offer.
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Thrissur can be reached from many neighboring cities such as Arur, Shertallai, Kollam, Alappuzha, Chalakudi, etc. There are plenty of private and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses you can board to reach Thrissur.
Thrissur Railway Station is well connected with the important neighboring regions and also with popular cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai.
The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport and it’s 50 km away from Thrissur. You can opt to travel by a private car or board a bus. You should reach Thrissur in around one and a half hours.
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If you’re planning to visit Thrissur to experience the International Theatre Festival of Kerala, you should also indulge in some sightseeing. Thrissur has some amazing places that you can visit for a wholesome holiday experience.
The largest church in Kerala, the basilica is the biggest one in India and the third tallest in all of Asia. The Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours is one of the most beautiful churches in this state and is built in the Indo-Gothic architectural style. The church is decked with five small altars apart from the main altar, beautiful murals of various moments of Christ’s life, and a stunning bell tower with eight bells. If European architecture and tranquil locations are your thing, then you must visit the basilica.
It is considered to be one of Kerala's most famous beaches, because of its Azhimukam - the place where the river joins with the sea. An azhimukam or estuary is a stunning work of nature that makes for a beautiful sight. Chavakkad Beach also has a lighthouse that gets a lot of visitors. The entry to it is not free, but the picturesque view of the beach it offers is well worth the money. In the evening you can see the local fish market on the beach which is an attraction in itself. You could even pick up some fresh seafood from here.
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This is a mosque in Methala town, just an hour and 15 mins drive away from Thrissur city. It is believed to be the oldest mosque in India and South Asia as it was built in 629 CE, making it an important religious destination and significant historical sight. The reason it looks unlike any other mosque is that its design was heavily inspired by a Kerala-style home from the olden times.
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It is a beautiful hillock located less than a 30-minute drive from Thrissur city and it offers a splendid view of the same from its top. The abundance of trees makes this place feel even more pleasant and because of the same reason, it is referred to as ‘the oxygen jar of the city’. Go hiking, enjoy the exciting array of rides like pedal boating, and explore the tree-covered walkway on your visit to Vilangan Kunnu.
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It is a slice of paradise and is known as the ‘Niagara of South India’. The waterfall is 81.5 feet high, making it the largest waterfall in the state. Its superb beauty not only attracts tourists but several members of the animal kingdom too. You might spot Bengal tigers, elephants, lion-tailed macaques, Indian leopards, and more frolicking around here.
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It is dedicated to the goddess Bhagavathi who is a form of the goddess Durga. The temple is one of the largest Durga temples in Kerala and it is one of the temples where the famous Thrissur Pooram Festival is celebrated. Paramekkavu Bhagavathy Temple features a simple and serene structure that will leave any architecture buff awe-inspired. It has a soothing, holy aura that welcomes everyone and anyone who wants to get in touch with their spiritual side.
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It really doesn’t matter if you are an enormous fan of theater or aren’t sure if theater is your cup of tea. The plays here are superb, moving, and unique and they will cast their magic on you, regardless of whether you are a theater fan or not. So plan your visit to Thrissur and experience the International Theater Festival of Kerala. It will leave you awestruck and will be the highlight of your year!
What Food Is Thrissur Famous For?
The cultural capital is also a foodie’s paradise. Some of its most popular dishes are meen porichathu, puttu, Malabar mutton biriyani, nadan zozhi varuthathu, karimeen polichatu, and avial.
What Is The Nickname Of Thrissur?
It has many nicknames. It is called ‘The Cultural Capital of Kerala’ because of the sheer amount of importance it gives to its culture and arts. It is also known as the ‘Gold capital of India’ as it makes around 70% of Kerala's jewelry.
Are Thrissur And Trichur the Same?
Yes, Trichur is the anglicized version of Thrissur. The government changed the city from Trichur to Thrissur in 1990.
What Is Special About Thrissur?
It is the cultural capital of Kerala where many respected art schools and bodies are situated. Some of the most important temples of the state are situated here. It is also an academic hub and home to a thriving gold industry.
Does Thrissur Have A Sea?
No, it does not. But the nearest beach is Chavakkad beach and it is just an hour away from Thrissur.
Why Is Kerala Famous?
It is blessed with an abundant bounty of nature. Hills, lakes, and beaches give an unrivaled beauty to this state. Its interesting culture, splendid temples, and lip-smacking food are some of the biggest reasons for its popularity.
Is Thrissur A City Or District?
Both. Thrissur district has multiple areas under it and one of them is a city that’s also named “Thrissur.”
How Safe Is Kerala For Tourists?
Kerala is very safe for tourists but they should be aware of their surroundings and take all the basic precautionary measures. Always try to avoid roaming in empty areas and going out after dark. Having a trustworthy local with you for company can make things even safer.