Indian craft has been widely accepted around the world as the epitome of creativity and has been applauded for the usage of indigenous materials. Instead of picking up-charged souvenirs from emporiums and urban shops, visit the point of generation. Indian handicrafts range from colourful textiles, intricate jewellery, paintings to curios. It is also a great way to understand the lives of actual artisans and the authentic processes they use to represent their art. Some of the most authentic destinations for photo-opportunities and a learning experience are below:
1. Tie and Dye in Rajasthan – Rajasthan embodies the spirit of a colourful nation entirely by itself. Apart from the community’s own vibrant dressing, the famous tie and dye fabrics are world renowned. The end product is also known as ‘bandhini’ at times. To see the artisans at work, one does not have to go too far out in the villages. Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Ajmer are the important centres of this ancient form of design on fabric. You can find plenty of options for only fabric or skirts and other Indian dresses.
2. Mysore Silk – Mysore has emerged as one of the key silk centres of the country in the past few decades. If you step away from the glitzy shops in Bangalore and visit the villages towards Mysore, you can follow the entire process while you travel. Right from the cocoons to spinning the silk threads and then weaving. Many indigenous set ups along the Bangalore- Mysore highway will be happy to invite people to have a look. Also, why spend that extra buck in a showroom when you can actually get the most authentic product from the artisan himself.
3. Stone Sculptures – There are 2 major destinations for stone sculptures in India. One if the famous 7th century town of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu and the other Khajurao in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Both are eminent destinations for their sand stone temples constructed with elaborate carvings and details. Here, you can pick up small replicas and statues made in sandstone by the local artisans.
4. Aranmula Mirrors in Kerala – The Aranmula mirrors of Kerala as one of the most intriguing crafts of the state. This craft is endemic to only one village by the same name and very few households are still in the business of making this wonderful product. The mirror, infact, has no glass element but is a heavily polished alloy which has reflective properties. The village is just off Alleppey and makes for an interesting day trip.
5. Durries and Rugs – Many North Indian states have been long patronised as weaving centres and still produce some of the finest floor rugs of the world. Villages off the city Agra in Uttar Pradesh has adequate business being generated out of hand woven carpets and rugs out of this region. Silk carpets on the other hand are made in Kashmir. Take the help of a local to get access to these villages and see the craft up close.
6. Thanjavur Paintings in Tamil Nadu –The small town of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu is primarily known for a large temple made by the Chola Kings and paintings of the same name. Based on themes of divine sagas, the paintings date back to 1600 AD. The Thanjavur paintings undergo a complicated process involving wood, cloth, zinc oxide and adhesives. The paintings are finally coated with semi precious stones and adorn many walls at homes and temples.
7. Uttaranchal Stone Jewellery – If you are off from a trek in the lower Himalayas in the state of Uttaranchal, you cannot miss the bold jewellery of Garhwal. Stone and metal are the main components of these elaborate neck pieces and bangles, which are made by the local women of the villages. Another interesting item of marital importance is the humungous ‘nath’ or the nose ring, which is worn by married women. The continuous patronage of tourists ensures that local crafts do not fade away by the heavy commercialisation and mass production, giving the artisans a steady livelihood and maintaining age old traditional crafts.
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