Mamallapuram:Â The cool breeze, the frolicking waves and the silhouette of the ancient Shore Temple - the quintessence of the historical Mamallapuram is the perfect background for spending winter evening hours blissfully watching the graceful movements of Indian classical dancers and racy folk dancers.
The motley crowd of audience who also comprise a large number of foreigners forget the nippy weather and their worries, perhaps, and intently watch Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi and the folk dances of Tamil Nadu.
But, this time, the Indian classical dance festival being organised by the state tourism department has a few foreigners performing Bharatanatyam at the open-air auditorium. Madhoerie, who led the troupe from Netherlands, had learnt Bharatanatyam in Bengaluru and she returned to Netherlands to set up a dance school.
Sadhana and Sheranie from Surinam and Jade, Leonie and Surayada from Netherlands who were among those who performed, won spontaneous applause.The festival, which would conclude on January 5, is being held daily from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm.
But, interestingly it was the spectacular performance of Gopika Vermaâ€™s Mohiniattam, Poornima Ashokâ€™s Bharatanatyam and Aruna Mohantyâ€™s Odissi that virtually stole the show at the fabled Mahabalipuram through their effective depiction of three most powerful women characters of Indian mythology - Sitadevi, Radha and Draupadi. The audience was mesmerised.
Though we expected to wind up the programme by 8.30 pm, the dancers who were so much engrossed in their work that they performed for about an hour more. The audience did not move away from the venue. They sat till about 9.30 pm, unmindful of the cold weather, and this apparently indicates the extent of respect and interest for the Indian classical dances, a senior tourism official said.
The popularity of Mamallapuram, the effective marketing strategy of the department, the Shore Temple, monuments and its proximity to Chennai, make this dance festival not only unique but also witnesses increasing patronage from regional, national and global audiences.
Over 44,68,123 visitors, including 3,90,642 foreigners, had visited Mamallapuram up to October-end of 2013, as per figures available with the tourism department. During 2012 about 43,35,350 domestic tourists and 4,60,282 foreigners visited this historic spot. â€śWe are set to exceed these figures this year,â€ť the official said.
The serene town is also set to witness more amenities soon. The tourist reception centre, which was recently upgraded at a cost of `30 lakh, will be inaugurated soon.