All posts filed under: India & Around

Arts & Crafts of Nirona

Rustic and unique: A glimpse into the crafts of Nirona

It’s a sunny day when the taxi driver pulls up in a rather non-descript looking village and drops me in front of an ATM. I don’t really see what he wants me to see. Yet. And then I see this guy, holding a smart phone, standing beside the ATM and I realize that there’s some invisible pact that my taxi driver and this person are already a part of. I don’t want to know too much. He comes forward and leads me on to my first stop in Nirona village. I am a few days into my Gujarat trip, starting from Bhuj and today my aim is discovering arts and crafts. I’ve always been inclined towards handmade and anything time consuming and local. And Gujarat is well-known for its variety when it comes to crafts so I won’t run out of things to see and experience. Craft is a truly fascinating domain. When machines and robots have taken over, there is even more charm to something handmade. Some call it a dying art, which some …

Kanha Forest

Tales from the jungle: Shergarh Tented Camp

Walking down a narrow path, fringed by bushes and trees, I couldn’t see too far ahead. But the road did lead somewhere – to the most beautiful cosy house welcoming you after what seemed like a very long road journey. A little further ahead, the path leads you to a large courtyard with sofas and chairs strewn around; relief for a tired traveller. The house has a wide verandah running all the way through, reminiscent of a Kerala style house. On one side is a water body and to the right, a large pond, reflecting the lush greenery. It was right out of a novel. It was perfect. I felt like I’d come home. The main house with the large courtyard: A place to relax! But let’s go back in time. I met Katie and Jehan Bhujwala in Goa, one of my favorite places to head to when I want to “get away”. In this piece of paradise called Olaulim Backyards created by the delightful Savio and Pirrko Fernandes, over delicious fresh fruits and cashew …

cover_exhibition

Ancient connections to come alive through “Ghadai”, an initiative by the Kumbhars (potters) of Kutch

The arts and crafts from the Kutch region are well known today. There is a lot of interest in the fabrics, the weaves, the prints, silver jewellery, copper artifacts and these products are in demand not only in India, but all over the world. Yet, one craft which is not getting the focus and appreciation it deserves is pottery. Reviving the ancient art of Kutch pottery The history of pottery in the Kutch region dates back 5000 years at least. Pottery products have been excavated from the archaelogical site of Dholavira, an ancient city belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation. Talking to Meera Goradia, the director of the Kutch-based NGO KHAMIR, I get to know a little more about the efforts being taken to bring alive the tradition of potters in the region. There are many who have stopped their craft, mainly due to a loss in livelihood. In some villages, the potter’s wheel now lies unturned. Yet in others, there is renewed interest as the craft has also started integrating aspects of newer and …

Scent of cardamom and taste of fresh honey: A visit to the Kalarickal Heritage Bungalow

There’s something about a bungalow that was constructed in the 1800s. It feels like stepping back in time. The way the doors close. The old style latches and windows. The feel of the cool red floor under your bare feet. But the TV and the WiFi suddenly brings you back to present tense also giving you a sense of modern comforts! A part of the bungalow which has been renovated for guests. Photo courtesy: KH Plantation A bit of history – “the current owner’s grandfather, K K Kurian Kalarickal, settled in this area (Idukki district) in the early 1900s when the hills were still thick with forests and wildlife. He was among a few pioneers to make his way into the mountains and begin cultivating them.” Luckily, this area is untouched and still verdant and retains much of it’s charm. K K Kurian built this original bungalow in 1918 and for many years it was a landmark in Idukki. It doubled up as a village office for planters and visitors who came for advise. The …

cover_banni

Where cranes sing and flamingos dance: Into the Banni Grasslands Reserve

Thousands of birds call the Banni Grasslands Reserve in Kutch, Gujarat their home. An excursion into this dry but rich ecosystem, has delightful surprises unfold, as you turn every corner. “Leave nothing but footprints; and plant trees. Lots of trees.” Flamingos against a beautiful sunrise over the Banni Grasslands. Photo credit: Jugal Tiwari Only someone wise and passionate can utter these words. And they come from none other than Jugal Tiwari of the Center for Desert and Ocean (CEDO). Established in 2005, the organisation has been tireless working on ecology and conservation issues for the last 9 years. Tiwari, who is originally from Rajasthan, on a visit to Kutch, fell in love with this area. It’s not hard to imagine why. What appears at first sight to be dry scrub desert, has more surprises, twists and turns than a detective novel and you look forward with anticipation to the next sight! We enter the reserve in the early morning hours. The cranes are already up, and fly across the morning sky, just beginning to glow …

feature_bhuj

Wanderings in Bhuj: a photo journey

Like any other small but burgeoning town in this country, Bhuj exhibits all the usual signs. Development on one side – good wide main roads, vehicles, ATMs, and everyone flashing smart phones. But on the other hand, the litter and garbage everywhere is an indication that no lessons in waste management have been implemented. Sadly, it’s just everywhere, including the water body in the middle of the city – the Hamirsar lake. Steeped in history, and scarred by a devastating earthquake in 2001, some parts of the old fort are still standing and visible as you move through the town. There are monuments that are crumbling, derelict, which give you a glimpse of those glory years. The small gallis through the town hold a quaint charm, albeit a little diminished by large amounts of garbage lying everywhere. Like any small but growing town, Bhuj has fallen prey to all the usual problems The narrow lanes are abuzz with activity As I touched down in the small Bhuj airport and made my way down the main …