Nine years since its inception, Chitramayee has grown into a haven for art and art lovers.

Gazing at a colourful contemporary painting at Chitramayee, we found our gaze shifting to a stunning rock formation in the background. Was it natural, we wondered?

We were assured that it was natural. And ancient! Chitramayee’s architecture deliberately incorporates the naturally occurring rocks and boulders of the area into the building space. So, here, at Chitramayee, the Andhra Pradesh State Art Gallery, you find nature’s sculptures together with manmade ones. After all, Hyderabad is famed for its spectacular rock formations.

We found more impressive rocks — in the lounge behind the Ganesha statue, in Haritha Restaurant, and outside the entrance.

The AP State Art Gallery was set up in 2004 by the AP government’s Tourism Department in Madhapur, Hyderabad, at the initiative of then Secretary, Tourism, Chandana Khan. It has 10 galleries, a library, Gnapika souvenir shop, conference hall and an auditorium. One gallery is dedicated to AP’s traditional art and crafts.

We spoke to a few art lovers — regulars to the gallery — who said they “like visiting Chitramayee because the idea of viewing art alongside beautiful natural rocks is so appealing”.

Chitramayee showcases paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures from local artists as well as those from around India.

Sometimes, you find exhibitions of textiles and saris. Art camps and competitions are other features. E. Sivanagireddy, director, Chitramayee, revealed that about 429 exhibitions and art camps (group and solo) have been held so far.

Special chief secretary, tourism, and Chitramayee president, Chandana Khan explained: “AP State Art Gallery was set up to showcase quality art, and to hold regular art-related events like workshops, talks, and orientation programmes. Coming up shortly is a large multipurpose cultural complex which will showcase, on a comprehensive basis, the arts and crafts including performing arts of Andhra Pradesh. Later, we plan to include art-forms from the rest of India.”

The rooms are clean and spacious. The outside area also contains sculptures including one of a standing man which functions as a lamp — the bulb is placed in the hollow of his face.

There was a phase, a few years ago, when Chitramayee looked shabby and ill-maintained, and when there was little dialogue between the artistes and the institute. All this had put off visitors too. Today, it wears a spruced-up look and other matters have improved.

A few experts agreed but opined that given its large space and resources, Chitramayee has potential for many more activities including educational ones.