India is known for its geographical and cultural diversity and the variety of sights and experiences it offers to local and international tourists. This Tourism Day, we, at LuxeBook are going to explore India’s world of textiles and crafts in an endeavour to encourage and promote the ‘vocal for local’ initiative, and highlight some of the major shopping destinations in India, where you can get hand-made goods of the best quality.
Recently, Google Arts and Culture partnered with Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism) for ‘Crafted in India’ project. This has promoted local artisans and their talents. It is a step taken to advance the journey to an Atmanirbar Bharat.
Maharashtra is well known for its handloom sari, Paithani. It derives this name from the place of its origin, in Paithan, near Aurangabad. The material used is silk (Charkha, Ciddle-Gatta or China silk) and zari (Gold or Silver). It originally used to be cotton-based but has now evolved to have a silk base. It generally features borders having an oblique square design and a peacock-design pallu. The motifs include the Ajanta lotus or a swan, amongst others. You can purchase these saris from government-run centres in Paithan and Yeola. They are also available on various online stores.
Even Himroo fabric from Aurangabad is quite famous. Its origin is attributed to Persia. The texture is quite fine. Cotton and silk are the materials used, and it often features floral or fruits-like design. It is used to make shawls and saris. You can shop for Himroo Fabrics at Mondha Road, Aurangabad.
Warli paintings is a form of folk art, created using tribal art style. It was started by the tribal people of Warli region, Maharasthra. This art makes use of white pigment to draw geometric shapes on a brown wall, depicting the Warli tribe’s lifestyle. You can buy them from sites like artzolo.com or fizdi.com
Patola originated in Patan. Palota designs generally include pipal leaf, basket, parrot, elephant and jewel square, etc. It’s a form of double ikat handloom sari, which has, both, warp and weft yarn tie-dyed before weaving. It was even famous in Indonesia, where people believed it to possess magical qualities and hence, offered it to the gods. Even warriors adorned a bit of it as a talisman. If you wish to purchase an authentic patola, you can do so from the store run by Salvi Family, Patan Patola Heritage in Patan.
Bandhani or Bandhej, another tie-dye textile from Gujarat requires great skills to make. It dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. It involves creating a figurative design by plucking the cloth with fingernails into tiny bindings. You can find garments made with Bandhani at Jamnagar, Mandvi and Bhuj or shop for them online at Mirraw, Limeroad and Carftsvilla.
Gujarat is a famous centre for Bead work done through bead weaving, also known as Moti Bharat Kaam. Chaklas, Indhonis, Mangal Kalash and Torans are embellished with intricate bead work, also necklaces, bangles and earrings. You’ll find these in the local markets of Gujarat.
Leheriya is Rajasthan’s unique and traditional tie-dye style, resist technique. It derives its name because of the wave pattern it produces. These colourful, diagonal stripes look stunning on dupattas, turbans and saris. You can buy these from Johri Bazaar in Jaipur.
Jaipuri Quilts are also in great demand. Not only do they look good but they are also soft, light and well-insulated. They are made with finely combed cotton with a high thread count. Locals claim that it will keep you warm in winters and cool in summer. It is also available in many markets of Jaipur. Some shops are Jaipuri Razai, Kadair Bux Razai Emporium, etc.
Kota Dori sari textile is created in Kota region with pure cotton and silk fabrics. However, it is said to have come from Mysore. These lightweight and durable saris feature checkered square patterns. During weaving, a mix of onion juice and rice paste is applied to make the fabric last longer. Buy it from Kota Sarees, Kota Doriya, Madhusudan Das Govind Das – Kota Sarees, Taana Baana Kota Doriya Saree, etc in Kota.
Jammu & Kashmir
Kashmir is world-renowned for its shawls. These shawls are made using a special fibre called Pashmina, which is woven from the wool of wild cashmere Asian mountain goat.
The Kani shawls take a year or more to be made, using Kani needle method. The Amlikar shawls feature vibrant colours with floral motifs. The Dourukha shawls have multi-coloured patterns with dark outlines. And the Kashmiri shawl depicts nature in the Kashmiri motifs of flowers and leaves. You can purchase them from Kashmir Loom stores located in Delhi and Srinagar.
Furniture and decor items like jewellery boxes, photo frames, etc, made from Kashmiri walnut wood, are very popular. These are embellished with intricate carvings, latticework, lotus flowers and chinar motifs by craftsmen in Kashmir.
Papier Mache is another popular craft of Kashmir. Three grades of paper are soaked in water to create papier mache. Once disintegrated, the solution is moulded into different shapes and later coloured. You can buy walnut wood products and Papier Mache items from Kashmir Box, an online platform promoting Kashmir’s rich heritage.
Banarasi is a handloom sari created in the holy town of Varanasi. Known as one of the finest silk saris in India. You’ll often find these saris in a bride’s trousseau. Top designers like Anita Dongre and Gaurang Shah have designed Banarasi collections and these are best bought from the shops in Banaras or designer boutiques in Mumbai and Delhi.
Chikan or Chikankari is a notable embroidery style from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. Now, it’s better known as Lucknowi Chikankari. It is done on various fabrics like muslin, chiffon, net, etc. There are three types, flat stitches, embossed stitches and Jaali stitches. Some Lucknow stores to buy Chikan from are Nazrana Chikan, Ada, etc. An NGO called SEWA (The Self-Employed Women’s Association) also works in the chikan industry, providing employment to over 10,000 local artisans, mostly women.
Carpet weaving is also an important craft in Uttar Pradesh. According to UP Tourism’s website, 90 per cent of the country’s carpets are created here. Some of the main centres are located in Mirzapur, Khamaria and Bhadohi.
Uttarakhand Handloom & Handicraft Development Council has been constituted by the Government of Uttarakhand to help local artisans and provide a platform to them for direct communication with the buyers.
Aipan is a folk art from Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region. It is ritualistic in nature and is hence drawn to either celebrate a special occasion or during someone’s funeral. It is also believed that this art protects people from evil forces. It is drawn on a surface using Geru. The motifs include floral and religious patterns.
Ringal weaving craft is a very old practice in Uttarakhand. Baskets, lamps, bins and mats are woven intricately using this method, using dwarf bamboo.
The wooden work of the local artisans of Uttarakhand is also quite famous, especially the ones that are inspired by the great Kedarnath Temple. This includes photo plates and home decor pieces.
These items are available at Uttarakhand’s crafts centre and shops run by artisans communities.
Madhya Pradesh has textile clusters situated in cities of Indore, Jabalpur, Burhanpur and Chhindwara. These clusters boast of having more than 43,000 power-looms and 47,000 handlooms. The Government of Madhya Pradesh has introduced Vendor Development Program (VDP) for the growth of micro and small enterprises. It is managed by Madhya Pradesh Laghu Udyog Nigam Limited (MPLUN).
Maheshwari weave was originally done using silk. Now, cotton is also used on a large scale. The saris come in five types; Chandrakala, Baingani Chandrakala, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi. Having vibrant colours, they generally feature a plain, striped or chequered design. There are linear patterns and minimal motifs. A notable feature is a reversible border. So, you can wear it using either side. The best place to buy such sari is the ancient town of Maheshwar which has been a centre for handlooms since the 5th century. The town has many stores such as Maheshwari Handloom Works, Maheshwari Sarees, etc.
Chanderi saris are made of fine silk and cotton with zari work. These saris were popular amongst royalty. The borders are mostly in rich gold. The motifs feature florals and geometric shapes. They are lightweight, transparent and sheer. You can find the stores dedicated to this textile like Chanderi Sarees – Motamal Handlooms, Chanderi saree (Virasat chanderiyaan), etc in the town of Chanderi.
Bamboo work is very famous. It reflects the rural lifestyles of Madhya Pradesh. Bamboo is used for creating hunting tools, fishing traps, agricultural implements, baskets, etc. Some of the tribes who possess expertise at Bamboo work includes Gond, Korku and Baiga. You can find products made with Bamboo at Shahdol, Balaghat, Mandla and Seon.
Chhattisgarh is famous for its Kosa Silk fabric. The material involved, Kosa silk is extracted from an Indian silkworm called Antheraea mylitta. It is a version of Tussar Silk which you will find only in India. It is used to make saris, lehengas, and other ethnic wear clothes. While its actual colour is dull gold, the final product will be dyed in natural dyes. You can buy it from stores like Kosa Silk Emporium, Raipur or Chandan Kosa and Silk saree, Bhilai, amongst others.
Dhokra art is basically a metal casting done using the lost-wax casting technique. Items like Nandi, Horse, Elephant, Ganesha, Candleholder, Candle stand, etc are made. Bastar and Raigarh districts are in demand for Dhokra handicrafts. The tribal people from these district practice the same. You can buy it from local artisans or online platforms such as Bastar Arts.
Terracotta craft is also widely seen in Chhattisgarh. It involves baking of natural clay. The terracotta figures take inspiration from social and religious practices and a notable one features Matri Devi or mother Goddess. In fact, it is said that her statue is placed on village borders to keep misfortune away. Using this craft, lamps, pottery and masks are also made. You can purchase it in Bastar, Jhabua, Sarguja, Raigarh, and Mandla districts.