Typically, Kalaripayattu training takes place in a kalari or arena. It is made by digging a rectangular pit (42 feet long and 21 feet broad) in the ground, six feet deep. The mud is compacted to form an even-levelled floor, and a thatched roof raised on two main pillars (21 feet in height and erected on the eastern and western sides of the kalari) covers it entirely. However, the kalaris where full-fledged duels are held are larger. They are usually 64 feet long and 32 feet broad. Soil is used to pat down the surface soil and prevent dust from rising. What is noteworthy is that cow dung was never used to plaster the floor as was customary in nearly every house in Kerala in olden times.
Entrance door on the eastern side opens to a set of steps that leads down to the hall. Low parapet walls on either side of the entrance door serve as a perch for visitors and spectators. Rest of the sides are covered using woven coconut leaves. Such a kalari is also called Kuzhi kalari [pit arena]. There are two reasons for preferring this substructure: one, it ensures cooling of the body as the students engage themselves in the gruelling, heat-generating exercises; two, it lessens the threat of skin infection from bites of insects that inhabit the top soil. The Kalari's where full fledged duels are held are larger.They are usually 64 feet longand 32 feet broad.
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