The shadow puppet theatre belongs to the genre of art forms that are practiced by a few. Kerala too has a proud legacy in the field of shadow puppetry. It is locally known as Tholpava Koothu ('Thol' means leather, 'Pava' means doll and 'Koothu' means play). Tholpava Koothu is prevalent in the central parts of Kerala comprising the districts of Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram.
Tholpava Koothu is considered an ancient ritualistic art form dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi, considered and worshipped as Mother Goddess by the Hindu community in Kerala. Tholpava Koothu is performed in a specially built theatre called Koothu Maadom, traditionally located in the premises of the temples dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi. Performance starts late in the evening and goes on up to dawn.
To witness and understand the style of performance, the preparations of the stage and behind the scene activities, one may ideally make a visit to the District of Palakkad and get in touch with Krishnankutty Pulavar Memorial, located at Koonathara, near Shoranur, the centre, named after the late shadow puppetry artiste Krishnankutty Pulavar Tholpava Koothu and Puppet Centre, is one of the few such centers in Kerala which are actively into the promotion and sustenance of Tholpava Koothu. The title 'Pulavar' means master or scholar.
The troupe as part of the Tholpava Koothu and Puppet Centre comprises members of the only surviving Tholpava Koothu family in Kerala, who are doing their best to preserve the art form along with training new artistes. The puppetry team at the Krishnankutty Pulavar Memorial Tholpava Koothu and Puppet Centre has Mr. K. K. Ramachandra Pulavar as its head, who is also the eldest son of the late Krishnankutty Pulavar. The training imparted includes the traditional method of presenting Tholpava Koothu as well as the making of the puppets out of animal skin.
The art of Tholpava Koothu (shadow puppetry) is surviving in the hands of a few committed souls and the Krishnankutty Pulavar Memorial Tholpava Koothu and Puppet Centre is where one can still witness, understand and even associate with for the sustenance of this unique and age-old ritual art.
Krishnankutty Pulavar Memorial Tolpava Koothu & Puppet Centre
Shoranur - 679523
Ph: +91 466 2227226
Nearest railway station: Shoranur railway junction, about 7 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 130 km
Latitude: 10.777325, Longitude: 76.313753