You are in India visiting the spectacular destinations, royal palaces & colossal monuments, and picking up colorful bags & scarves for your friends and family back home. Have you thought about creating your block print stole, or maybe hand-build a little cup for yourself, or try your hands at the looms where silk weavers have woven traditions for thousands of years? Well, if your creative nerves are tingling in an affirmative, it is time to join us on this artistic trail and immerse yourself as you hand-make in India!
Right from the vividly painted Bhangas (circular mud dwellings) to the colorful dresses and stunning artwork, the Kutch region is certainly a treasure-trove of art in India. Try your hands at the colorful Ajrakh block printing; learn the secrets of the ancient Rogan art where nature dyes are mixed with castor oil and a top-secret ingredient to create beautiful prints on cloth; make your own Kutchi mud painting with pretty glass pieces- the art just flows all over the surreal landscape of Kutch.
Retro-style in Raghurajpur
Just 50 km away from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, this little village is the heart & soul of creativity. Much known as the crafts village, Raghurajpur is the home ground of around 500 artists accomplished in the art of Pattachitras. Associated with the legends of Lord Jagannath, these intricate brush works, once done on cloth, have now taken an all-new form. Sit down in one of these thatched huts, grab and a brush, and learn the ancient art of Pattachitra. I created a bookmark for me; you let your imagination going!
Not much publicized or commercialized but still extremely beautiful, Aipan art in Kumaon comes from the word Arpan (dedication), a traditional art that serves as an offering to the Gods. Traditionally done on a red clay base (geru) with patterns created with a rice paste, Aipan patterns are the first thing you see on the doorstep of almost every house in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. You need not even go for any workshop, just sit with the lady of the house and learn this simple art of devotion. I went the kitschy way and created my own bookmarks & a diary cover with Aipan patterns.
While shopping in Jaipur is a scintillating experience, it would be even better to try your hands at the centuries-old art of Shibori tie-dye to make a scarf for your BFF or a stole for yourself! Learn about the natural dyes, gorgeous patterns, and soak in the fun & satisfaction of creation; it certainly is so much more rewarding than just buying a scarf from the street. If you are craving more, there are various workshops happening in Jaipur for textile block printing, puppet making, screen printing, and exotic blue pottery.
When you talk pot in Andretta, it is not the Himachali smoking pot, but the spectacular glazed pottery that has become the hallmark of this beautiful little village in Himachal. The Andretta Pottery Studio, the oldest in the country, is a perfect place to let your hands take over your senses. Have fun with the clay, create a small piece, and take home some beautiful memories along with your handcrafted souvenir. Beware, people often come here for a class and then stay on for years!
If you are visiting the palace city of Mysore and you dabble in a bit of carpentry, Channapatna is a delightful treat. This little down, just 85 km from Mysore, is the land of toys. A traditional craft for over 200 years, the wooden toys of Channapatna grace the homes of kings and presidents from across the globe. Check out the process of making these smooth & artistic wooden toys painted with lacquer in vivid shades.
Nestled in the Nilgiri Hills, around 30 km from the charming hill station of Ooty, lies the little village called Vellaricombai, where a lone tribal painter still preserves the dyeing traditions of Kurumba Art. Believed to be an ancient art, Kurumba paintings were created thousands of years ago on vertical cliffs with tall sticks and natural colors. Now the paper is the canvas & brush take the place of sticks. But the colors are still painstakingly created from the forests- the soil, leaves, tree barks, and thus the paintings have very few shades and no blue at all. Spend a day in the village and learn the brushstrokes that once adorned the ancient archeological sites in the area.
Kumartuli, the traditional quarters of artists & sculptures in Kolkata, is a seamless blend of a spectacular museum & a bustling workshop. Walk the narrow lanes and watch the artists breathing life into magnificent idols of Goddess Durga. Passing from one generation to another, the idol-making art of Kumartuli has flourished over the centuries. If you wish to see the frenzy of Kumartuli, then visit it before September, before Durga Puja, when the creativity reaches its crescendo in this art district of Kolkata.
Well, this is was just a quick peek into the craft scene in India. There is so much more, from the Kashmiri art of Papier-mâché to the embroideries of Punjab, the silk weavings of Banaras, and terracotta art of Bishnupur, to name a few. Dabble in some arts and get set to take back home a piece of timeless Indian art along with the priceless experience with the artists.
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You are in India visiting the spectacular destinations, royal palaces & colossal monuments, and picking up colorful bags & scarves for your friends and family back home. Have you thought about creating your block print stole, or maybe hand-build a little cup for yourself, or try your hands at…
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