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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Nrityagram is a banquet of monsoon-moist earth, rain-washed greenery, and the raucous cries of wild and hidden peacocks.

The dance village/gurukul is silent without its dancers who would ordinarily be practicing Odissi till early afternoon.

At the entrance is an old Beetle, a relic from the past, and a terracotta temple dedicated to the elements. The temple blooms out, encircled by standing stone slabs, Stonehenge-style.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Paths weave between yurt-inspired cottages – homes of residential and visiting dancers, sculptures, thatch-roofed sitting areas, dance halls, and an amphitheater. A pair of dogs lounges in one of the verandahs, silent spectators.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

A stray dancer walks by briskly, a backpack slung over her erect spine, her eyes dancing, her lips smiling.

In its early days, the dance village which is the vision-turned-reality of model and danseuse Protima Gauri taught different Indian dances. Today, it is just Odissi that is taught here.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Close to the gated dance village is the grasslands, now closed to the public and once the venue of illegal but ecstatic activities.

If so inclined, there are many opportunities to trespass – it isn’t completely fenced. Mostly it is a large expanse of land with young and short trees, wooly grass, and slender granite pillars boring into the earth making a zig and zag of boundaries. Tampered by these markers of human activity, it isn’t as natural as i had expected.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Nearby is the lake with a walkway whose length is punctuated at one end by a temple. The lake is completely dry now. A line of women stoop, their brown backs making commas, as they pick something off the grassy bed. Teenagers ride in on their motor bikes.

A strong breeze blows over the walkway. We bite into sourdough bread topped with chopped tomatoes tossed in olive oil and cheese slices. Under a bench close by, a stray dog. He rasps, what little life is left in him, clings to him, not letting go just yet.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

The tranquil and slow pace of Hesarghatta is hypnotic, lulling me into a state of somnolence which the city shakes off with indifference and without apology when we return into the reach of its ever-extending tentacles.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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