Sanganer – the Papermakers Hub near Jaipur

In 16th century, Raja Mansingh brought Kagzis, the papermakers to Sanganer, an ancient town that existed long before Jaipur.

A few hundred years later, in the 1930’s, when Kagzis were teetering on the verge of ruin, Gandhiji played savior to them by ordering a bulk consignment of handmade paper for his ashram. Allah Bux Kagzi, a papermaker from Sanganer even made history by demonstrating papermaking at the congress 1938 session in Haripura.

Sanganer

Just 14 km from Jaipur, Sanganer today is a busy Centre of paper manufacture. The main change that has come over the years is that the paper making has been evolved from   being a household industry to a more organized activity. There are half a dozen large factory now, all strongly export oriented. The major change that has come about is in the equipment used and the variety of paper produced.

Sanganer

The Kagzis use 3 types of material to produce paper: cotton rags, silk and banana trunk fiber. Cotton base paper makes up 90 % of their produce, but despite the humble raw material, the final product comes in myriad attractive finishes. There is metalized paper glazed to look like foil, and leatherette paper, deliberately creased to resemble leather.

While the price of these papers vary from Rs  4 to Rs 35 per sheet, products made out of it are much more steeply priced. And unfortunately, none of this premium of handmade papers and products made of these papers are reaching to the people who make these.

Sanganer

Visit Sanganer, see the process of paper making and meet the people behind. Talk with them and know more about their lives, their challenges, the process and the variety. Buy handmade papers directly from them, purchase the products made of these papers from the makers. Not only you will get much cheaper bargain compared to the market, more importantly, the fund will directly benefit the deserving people who are behind this craft.

Sanganer

Also while in Sanganer, don’t forget to visit the beautiful Shri Digamber Jain Atishya Kshetra Mandir, Sanghiji, which is decorated all over with carved figures.

Dharamshala & McLeodganj – Tibet’s Lost and Found

In all these centuries, in all its reincarnations, Dharamshala – the Pilgrim’s rest house – has unfailingly lived up to its name, welcoming tired travellers in search of spiritual bliss, providing a brief, noisy, colourful, hectic respite before the snow-clad Dhauladhar Range beckoned them onwards. Somewhere along the way, in less than 40 years, it has reinvented itself from halting station to destination. This is the end of the journey. Dense rows of brightly lit hotels with their fake Lhasa rooftops and bazaars now seem to dwarf the giant deodar pines and oaks that split it into upper and lower towns, perched like a spiritual Las Vegas on a spur of the Himalayas. And the town specially the upper half, known as McLeodganj is still celebrating its total conquest of the pilgrim’s soul.

The upper reaches of the Kangra valley are a curious mish-mash of cultures – Tibetan and Kashmiri curio shops, pizza shacks vying with Alu chaat and tandoori dhabas. Tibetan hippies and American monks, prayer gongs and Hindi film songs, Quint English and Jalandhar mod. And dominating it all, as pristine as in its original home on the other side of the Himalayas, a brand new Lhasa, temple, lama, summer palace, monasteries and all.

Things to do and see

In a little over a decade, McLeodganj was transformed into the thriving Little Lhasa of India. The meager years saw it growing with the Dalai Lama’s snowballing fame from a one shop town into a cosmopolitan centre where serious Buddhist scholars and the Dalai Lama’s International admirers rub shoulders with backpackers in search of New age entertainment.

Tsuglhakhang

Tsuglhakhang

True to the Dalai Lama’s principals of not disturbing the natural vegetation, the elegant 2 storeyed temple, called Tsuglhakhang, with its large square overlooking his palace- really a modest cottage where he lives with his beloved cats and flowers – was built without chopping a single tree. The temple in fact rest on some unusual columns which are actually trunks of deodars which are still growing, protected by adjustable iron rings.

Namgyaima Stupa

Namgyaima Stupa

This Stupa is a memorial to the Tibetan who died fighting in their homeland. Built in a Hybrid Indo Tibetian style, it soars definitely upwards.

Tibetan Theatre

Tibetan Theatre Dharamsala

Theatre, in the form of the traditional opera,is big in Tibetan culture. Tibetan who fled with Dalai Lama in 1959, certain that this art form would disappear unless they took immediate steps to preserve it, insisted on setting up TIPA, the Tibetan Institute of performing arts. With in 4 months of their arrival. Within a decade, TIPA became the centre of not only the Tibetan’s social life but of the town as well attracting hundreds of avid fans to its 10 day Shoton festival.

The church of John – in the Wilderness

st johns church dharamsala

This church with exquisite stained glass window depicting John the Bapatist with Jesus, was among the first buildings to be erected here by British in 1852. It is now the only surviving monument of that time.

Dal lake

Dal Lake

Those who couldn’t afford to go to Kailash got their salvation by bathing in this water body.

Bhagsunag

Bhagsunag

The origin of this shrine revolves around the myth about the great fight between the demon king (Bhagsu) and the Snake God (Nag).

 


Experience Dharamsala & McLoedganj in a new unexplored light with Born2C Explorers program https://born2c.com/programs/programinfo/undiscovered-dharamsala

 

Little Known Story of Chamba Rumal – Himachal’s Unique Handkerchief

For most of us, the humble cloth handkerchief is just another mousy piece of item for everyday use. At the max bearing a monogram or delicate design in a corner — these piece of cloth are usually plain, perfect for the banal acts of wiping hands and faces. But the Chamba Rumal (rumal means handkerchief) is no ordinary cloth, and certainly just too rare and precious to wipe your face with.

The word Chamba rumal implies a peculiar visual art form that represents unique and charming embroidery done on a hand spun cloth with untwisted silken thread, which is greatly inspired from pahari painting. The tradition of this kind of pictorial embroidery was known and practiced in Kangra, Mandi and Nurpur areas of Himachal and Basoli in Jammu that remained important centres of pahari painting.

Embroidering-on-a-Chamba-Rumal
It is believed that Raja Prithvi Singh started d-mukha tanka art form in 17the century and later Raja Bhuri Singh commercialised the production of Chamba Rumals in 20th century. Gradually the craft has vanished in other parts of Himachal but still remains in Chamba. The earliest records of the region dates back to 2nd century BC, making it one of the most ancient destinations in the state. The region is known for its history, architecture and landscapes but the local community is also known for its arts and crafts, in particular the miniature Pahari paintings.

One of the earliest example of the embroidery incidentally can be found in Punjab — Bebe Nanki, sister of the Sikh spiritual leader Guru Nanak, reportedly embroidered one in the 16th century and the item was preserved in the state’s Hoshiarpur shrine.
Another handkerchief made its way to Britain in 1883 when Raja Gopal Singh presented a Chamba Rumal to the British, embroidered with a scene from the Mahabharata, which was later added to the collection of London’s Victoria & Albert museum.

Rich History
In the 17th century, the Chamba Rumal embroidery was done by the queens and royal ladies of Chamba for wedding dowries, important gifts and ceremonial coverings.

The tradition gradually made its way out of palace walls and began to be practised by local craft clusters. The Rumals came to be an integral part of weddings, exchanged by the bride and groom’s families as a sign of goodwill.
In his book Chamba Himalaya: Amazing Land, Unique Culture, KR Bharti draws attention to the painstaking process of Chamba Rumal embroidery — using naturally dyed silk floss on mal-mal or khaddar — and the distinctive double-sided technique seen in the designs.

The picture on both sides of the fabric is almost the same…The drawing is done in outline with fine charcoal or brush. The embroidery is done in a variety of colours by a double satin stitch carried forward and backward alternately. Both sides of cloth are stitched simultaneously so that the space on both sides is filled up making the design on both sides look equally effective and similar in content. That is why this technique is called dorukha (two-faced).KR Bharti
Awesome value, even today
It takes two to three months to prepare an excellent Chamba Rumal that can cost anything between Rs, 40,000 to Rs. 50, 000. A small Chamba Rumal costs between Rs.4, 000 to Rs. 5,000 as it takes only a week to prepare it.

Chamba

Verge of extinction

Once a popular art form in various areas of Himachal and Jammu – it is today only alive in Chamba. In recent times, one of the greatest impetuses to the art came in 2007 when the Chamba Rumal was accorded the Geographical Indication (GI) patent by the Geographical Indications Registry. It helped to curb the sale of inauthentic items and also brought the art form back into the spotlight.

Chamba Rumal

Visit the Chamba district to witness this handicraft form, the craftsmen society and villages, which was once fashionable even to the Britishers.