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The Story Of Mandakini Mathur, Providing Employment Through Rock Dhokra artifacts in Devrai Art Village

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Introduction:- The Story Of Mandakini Mathur, Providing Employment Through Rock Dhokra artifacts in Devrai Art Village

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur: A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone. It's about feeling connected and responsible for what happens.

Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role. Every journey has a story behind it.

It’s not easy to follow your calling, unless you have the willpower to sustain the ups and downs.

Devrai Art village is an endeavor by Mandakini Mathur, who initiated the Rock Dhokra Art (now patented),

To support the artisan community from far and wide, where all could thrive. In the Rock Dhokra process, stone and Brass fuse together using the lost wax technique under stringent temperature conditions to form a unified whole.

The artist’s eye is apparent in the visualization of a tangible shape around a core piece of rock.

The use of sculpted stone now has given a new dimension to their Rock Dhokra creations.

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

Mandakini has established this Art village in Panchgani, a small hill town near Pune, Maharashtra. 

Mandakini grew up in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Her father, being in the armed forces, wanted her to follow science and she took up Bio Chemistry, but then she flew off at a tangent and did English Literature (Hons) instead, from Delhi.

At times, one needs to have clarity on what one really wants to do in life, and she made her decision to shift to the creative field at the right time, against her family’s decision. 

But she humbly says, she did make them proud with her achievements. 

Her Aunt Vanmala was a star in the cinemas and influenced her deeply in art, history, poetry etc, in her formative years. During her college education, she got lured into the world of French literature.

She enrolled in JNU for a five-year integrated programme in French in the School of Languages and  continued M.Phil in French cinema from the University Of Sorbonne, Paris.

Life is not always smooth. Going to Paris on a scholarship was a dream come true and it happened a year after her marriage in Mumbai.

It was a difficult challenge to convince her in-laws to let their “bahu” go for a year to Paris without her husband. Her husband Atul was however very supportive and encouraging.

More stories SalamatRaho – HunanKind:- SalamatRaho- HumanKind 

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

Once she returned, they lived in Mumbai for  eight years,then moving to Panchgani with two kids, seven and three, was yet another turning point. 

Exploring the forests of Mahabaleshwar and documenting all the stories linked with its dark secrets became an obsession. This is what lured her into the world of filmmaking. This made her travel for her documentaries and this enriching journey created a trail into the vast wilderness of Bharat’s cultural landscape. 

She has been making feature and documentary films on issues of environmental concern, Indic culture, spirituality and on child centric themes.

She writes scripts, stories and poetry. Her work includes – Aapa-Akka , Tiger’s Cry around the theme of Indian wildlife over a seventy-year time span. Her film, River Goddess was commissioned for exhibition at a nine-month long Festival of Hinduism at the TropenMuseum, Amsterdam. The film was also awarded at the UGC sponsored educational film festival.

She has published two books – ‘Radha, Poems of Love’ and ‘End Of The Circle’. 

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

She is on the advisory board of NCERT for the Department of Art and Aesthetics.

In this capacity she is working on the NEP’s stated aim of Art Integrated Learning. She has produced English Teaching Audiovisual Resource material for children from marginalized communities and vernacular medium schools.

This includes short films and accompanying books with spin-off interactive exercises.

She has also written and directed more than fifteen plays, which have been performed as street plays and on stage as well.

In 2008 she founded Devrai Art Village, an NGO that strives to empower indigenous craftsmen and women through their art and evolve traditional art forms to suit modern sensibilities.

A local Adivasi art teacher wanted a space for three of his village artisans to work. The Devrai property with its platform under the ancient ficus tree seemed ideal.

Mandakini took up this opportunity little realising that her acceptance would be fulfilling a higher purpose in the grand scheme of things. Thus was Devrai Art Village born.

Over time they grew into a team of over 50 artisans, men and women, from the Naxalite affected regions of Bastar and Gadchiroli who found a means of not just livelihood but a sense of dignity and pride as well.

Interestingly they also employ post graduates from Sir JJ School of Art, thus creating an environment where traditional skill and modern aesthetic sensibilities blend seamlessly to create artifacts rooted in the Indic tradition yet universal in appeal. 

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

They also offer workshops for artists, amateurs, schoolchildren and interns from design and art schools.

The workshops are an ongoing process for individuals and groups and customized to participants’ needs, skill level and time available.

They offer a cozy home stay (see Devrai Home Stay on AirBnb) for up to two people as well. For extended learning, they accept interns from design and art schools. Soon they plan to offer opportunities for workaways from across the world as well.

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

 Although Devrai Art Village is an NGO, it has survived fifteen years without seeking donations. It’s  a matter of pride for them that their artists have been earning their livelihoods from sales of their art work and not from charity.

Additionally, thanks to the artistic innovations and constant experimentation, this has given them a life of dignity and respect even among their peers.

The word Devrai means a sacred grove, a protected forest where the locals do not cut or destroy any vegetation.

Over time Devrais have turned into rich pockets of biodiversity, valued for their botanical treasure.Ironically, the property that Mandakini and her husband Atul acquired in 2005 was a dry, barren slope with no trees except for the lone ficus that stood out like a giant claw from the land.

Aspirationally, they named it Devrai, with the audacious dream of creating their own forest.

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

The barren slope has today turned into a true Devrai with Atul’s incessant efforts where, within a span of just fifteen years, more than three hundred different species of rare trees, climbers, shrubs and bamboos flourish in a dense “garden forest”. Reinforcing the truism – follow your dreams, the means will follow. 

Mandakini says, “Our passions were always Art and Nature.We are blessed to have them both manifesting in abundance around us at Devrai. In fact, here they interact and inspire each other, melding into an undistinguished Oneness.

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

Now she spends most of her time finding ways to evolve the ancient tradition of metal art in India.

Constant experimentation with design and medium, all the while keeping in mind the essential Indic ethos, is the hallmark of Devrai Art Village.

Mandakini sees Devrai Art Village as a R&D centre for the visual arts. She says, “Imaging the Unimaginable” is not just a book I am writing about how the Indian mind has conceived the Divine; I strive to give form to the same idea through art with a team of highly skilled, multidisciplinary artists. You will find me here working with them at Devrai.”

She now dreams of reviving, documenting and sustaining the fast disappearing storytelling arts of India like puppetry, Patachitra, Phad and Kawad.

Under the broad thematic base of Indian epics – the Mahabharata and Ramayana, storytelling art forms from all over India will be filmed, collated and documented, thereby creating rich resource material for use in education and in the entertainment industry.

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur


• Devrai Art Village received the prestigious national award for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship from the Government of India in 2019 for its work in the handicrafts sector.

• Indian Art & Design Educators Association award, 2019

• Mandakini presented the Devrai Art Village story at TedX, Panchgani in 2018 

• A large following on social media with over forty one thousand followers on Instagram

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

We need more and more change makers like Mandakini Mathur, who are working on preserving our traditional artforms and also creating new fusions and art forms. Also providing employment opportunities to many, uplifting their dignity and standard of living. 

Devrai Art village is one of its kind unique spaces for creative learning and exploring new ideas. 

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

See www.devraiartvillage.com for more details.

 Mandakini Mathur | Devrai, Panchgani CHS, Panchgani 412805, India | [email protected] | +91 99233 39726

The Story Of Mandakini Mathur

What is Salamat Raho ?

Team NomadLawyer’s ambition is to positively impact the world through the stories of HumanKind.

We believe in the art of storytelling. Through “Salamat Raho ”, we are creating a database for social good in the form of “Impact Stories”, which will help us achieve our goal and reach out to the world at large.

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