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Art Of Kerala

Kerala is known for its art all around the world. The typical art forms of Kerala reflect the outlook and life of the people of Kerala. These art forms encompass the very best in the fields of drama, music, dance and literature.


Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, a 19th-century king of Travancore patronized music, introduced Carnatic music in Kerala.


Sopanam, a native music form of Kerala is a rendition of ragas most often used as the background score in Kathakali.  


Melam, a traditional music style of Kerala is performed during the various temple festivals. This style is dominated by percussion instruments such as the Chedna.  


Panchavadyam, predominantly a temple art includes the use of five (‘pancha’) different types of instruments and is performed by over hundred artisans during major festivals. Percussive music is also used in various folk art forms.  


Malayalam literature has a rich history and tradition that drew attention due to its crafty poets. The work down by Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar) marks the dawn of both modern Malayalam and Keralite poetry. Some of the famous poets like Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer are known for transforming Keralite poetry towards a more lyrical mode. Useful contributions by various poets and writers have widely influenced contemporary literature of Kerala. ‘The God of Small Things’ written by Arundhati Roy, a contemporary writer has been set in Kottayam, a town in Kerala.


Bharat Natyam, one of India's oldest forms of classical dance originated from the Natya Shastra written about 4000 B.C. by Saga Bharatha. This expressive theatrical art form is guided by definite principles.


Chakyarkoothu, also known as ‘koothu’ is one among the innumerable classical theatre arts of Kerala. The theme of this art is generally taken from the epics- Ramayan and Mahabharatha. Koothu is known for its comic element.


Kathakali is a 500 year old classical dance form that combines the various facets of ballet, opera, masque and pantomime. The themes are taken from India’s rich and colorful mythology. The performers enact the story through mudras (hand gestures), facial expressions and graceful movements.


Mohiniyattam, a classical solo dance form creates an erotic mood by combining the graceful elegance of Bharat Natyam with the dynamism of Kathakali. It is performed during the temple festivals of Kerala.

Folk Art

Kalampattu belongs to the northern regions of Kerala. It is performed by a group of five to fifteen people in Bhadrakali and Ayyappa temples.


Kaliyoottu is an eight day long folk ritual which shows the combat between goddess Durga and the demon Darika. The climax is performed on a specially constructed stage on the eighth day of the temple festival.


Kanniyarkali, also known as deshathukali is a ritual dance form which is performed with devotional folk songs and the resounding beats of drum.


Kavadiyattam is a dance form performed by devotees as a worship ritual in Subramanya temples.


Kolkali is a group dance form of the farming community in Kerala. Dancers move rhythmically in a circle around a ceremonial lamp, tapping wooden sticks on the ground.


Thiruvathirakali is a classical dance tradition followed by joint families. In this dance form, the women of the house dance elegantly to thiruvathira pattu (a folk song) around a ceremonial lamp or floral decorations.


Kolkkali is rhythmic art popular among the Muslim men of Kerala.


Thullal is a solo act that combines dance and recitation of stories in verse form. It is usually performed in temples during festivals.


Kootiyattom is an ancient dramatic art form that means acting together. It is performed annually at the Koodal Manickyam temple at Irinjalakkuda and the Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur.


Duffmuttu also called as Aravanamuttu is a Muslim art form in the Malabar region that is performed in a group specifically during festivals and nuptial ceremonies.


With profound richness in its various art forms, Kerala presents a unique opportunity to explore the diverse and ancient art forms of the land.



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