Ottan Thullal : A 300 Year Old Traditional Solo Dance & Drama Art Form from Kerala – History, Types, and the Epic Tale of Garuda Garvabhangam, A Spectacular Ottan Thullal Performance

dance form with vibrant facial expressions, gestures, & intricate footwork


Ottan Thullal : A 300 Year Old Traditional Solo Dance and Drama Art Form from Kerala – History, Types, and the Epic Tale of Garuda Garvabhangam, A Spectacular Ottan Thullal Performance (Updated)

– dance form with vibrant facial expressions, elegant gestures, & intricate footwork

CasualWalker’s Rating for Garuda Garvabhangam : A Spectacular Ottan Thullal Performance :

9.9 – Great / Excellent

Ottan Thullal / Ottam Thullal is a 300 years old captivating form of classical dance performing art, from Kerala. It is a visual treat that combines intricate footwork, graceful gestures, and vivid facial expressions. Ottan Thullal (Ottamthullal) is a one-person performance that combines dance, music, acting, and storytelling. The performer takes on all the roles in the story. What makes Thullal special is its humor, satire, and social commentary.

The Ottan Thullal performer – the Thullalkaran, donning the role of the Vidushaka – the wise fool, becomes the intermediary between the audience and the narrative, using humor and wit to convey deeper messages. With intricate footwork and graceful movements, the artist brings to life characters from gods and goddesses to common folk, infusing each gesture with the rasa that defines their emotional state. What sets Ottanthullal apart is the performer’s unique role of both singing and narrating the story, a demanding task, while another individual simultaneously recites the verses.


History of Ottan Thullal

Ottan Thullal’s origins can be traced back to the 18th century, attributed to the illustrious poet and performer Kalakkaththu Kunjan Nambiar (1705-1770). Nambiar used his wit, humor, and keen observations to devise this art form as a means to criticize societal injustices through clever wordplay. He conceived this art form as a means to convey the voice of the common people in an entertaining manner, using a rhythmic dance style accompanied by witty verses.

Types of Thullal

It adheres closely to the principles outlined in the Natya Shastra, authored by Bharatamuni. Among its three variations—Ottanthullal, Seethankan, and Parayan Thullal—Ottanthullal takes the forefront as the most prominent.

Garuda Garvabhangam – Ottan Thullal Performance by Kalamandalam Shri. Kavitha Geethanandan

This Ottan Thullal Performance is by Kerala Kalamandalam’s renowned Thullal artist, Shri. Kavitha Geethanandan, who delivered a splendid and marvelous Ottan Thullal performance, narrating the story of “Garuda Garvabhangam,” exemplifying the art’s rich tradition and storytelling excellence.


Garuda Garvabhangam – Vanquishing of Garuda’s Pride: Ottan Thullal Performance

Garuda Garvabhangam, which comes from the ancient text “Ramanu Charitham”, tells the story of Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu known as the Preserver of Life.

In this tale, Krishna decides to teach a lesson to Garuda, the proud King of birds and his carrier. He wants to show Garuda the importance of humility.

Lord Krishna’s Plan

Lord Krishna asks Garuda to bring Hanuman to him. Lord Hanuman is a devoted follower of Lord Rama, another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Hanuman, who is both a monkey god and a skilled warrior, spends his time in the Kadali Groves chanting the name of his beloved master.

When Garuda approaches Hanuman, he understands that Krishna wants to teach Garuda the importance of humility.

Lord Hanuman’s Response

Lord Hanuman respectfully declines Lord Garuda’s request. He explains that he cannot go with Garuda because he doesn’t have respect for Lord Krishna. This angers Lord Garuda, and he challenges Hanuman to a fight. But Lord Hanuman, with his strength and wisdom, defeats Lord Garuda, showing him that pride can lead to downfall.

The Ottan Thullal  artist, adorned in unique green makeup, and colorful costumes, don unique headgear and ornate jewelry that adds to the charm of the performance.

The rhythmic beats of the accompanying percussion instruments, particularly the melodic sounds of the Mridangam and Idakka percussion instruments infuse life into the stories being narrated, creating an immersive experience for the audience.

Ottan Thullal’s Rasa – Emotions

At the heart of Ottan Thullal lies the concept of “rasa” – a Sanskrit term that translates to “emotion”. The dance form artfully weaves together various rasa’s to convey a vivid spectrum of human feelings.

From the exuberant “Hasya” (humor) to the tender “Sringara” (romantic love), from the fierce “Raudra” (anger) to the contemplative “Bhakti” (devotion), Ottan Thullal paints emotions onto the canvas of the stage with finesse and flair.


Overall Ottan Thullal dance performance, was an enchanting experience that transported us to a world of emotions, storytelling, and cultural richness.




Also, check out similar Interesting Dance & Culture :

Exploring Kathakali : Origin, History, Elements, and Costumes of India’s Major Traditional Classical Dance Form / Unveiling Kalyana Sougandhikam : A Mesmerizing Kathakali Play by Kalakshetra Foundation Depicting Bhima’s Quest for the Rare Fragrance Flower for His Wife Draupadi

Nangiarkoothu / Nangiar Koothu : A 1500-Year Old Traditional Solo Sanskrit Dance & Theatre Art Form from Kerala – History, Types, and the Epic Tale of Poothana Moksham from Life of Lord Krishna, A Spectacular Nangiar Koothu Performance

Mohiniyattam : An Enchanting Traditional Classical Dance Form of Kerala / Mohiniyattam Origin, History, Compositions & Costume / Kalaimamani Gopika Varma’s Kandien Swapnam (I Saw a Dream) – An Mesmerizing Mohiniyattam Dance Performance

Kathak Dance : A Major Traditional Classical Dance Form in India – Exploring Kathak’s Origin, History, Elements, Costumes, and its Connection to the Bhakti Movement / Cosmic Resonance: A Mesmerizing Kathak Dance Performance by Devaniya – Dakshin Gharana, Kathak Dance School

Kalakshetra Foundation – Kannappar Kuravanji – Story of Kannappa Nayanar, the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva – Dance Drama

DakshinaChitra Folk Dance Festival – South-Indian Traditional Folk Dance Performances of Karagattam, Kalai Attam, Oyilattam, Mayilattam, Thappattam, Poikalkuthirai, Silambattam at DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum, Chennai

Koothu Kottaai – Grand Folk Arts Show Of Tamil Nadu (Part 1)

Kathakali Festival 2019, Bhava Bhavanam – Rajasooyam (Thekkan), Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai – Most Famous & Traditional dance from Kerala, India

Manal Magudi Theatre Troupe – Award-winning Contemporary Non-conventional, Tamil Modern Theatre Group in Kovalpatti, Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu


Explore More curious photo stories

Keep Exploring More Indian Temples

Related Stories


Keep Exploring More Indian Temples



Join our 5000+ subscribers list to get our latest Culture & Travel Photo coverages delivered to your Inbox.


walked steps

explored places

clicked photos

hot chai

read books

ate peanut bars