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Thursday, Dec 26, 2002

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An Indian kaleidoscope

The on-going All India Crafts Mela at Shilparamam, with about 400 stalls from different parts of the country, provides a unique shopping experience.

PAINTED VASES: Take your pick - Photos: Mohd. Yousuf

ALL ROADS now lead to Shilparamam - the destination for the much-awaited All India Crafts Mela. The ninth annual crafts exhibition has more than 400 stalls from various States with double the number of artisans and craftsmen displaying their wares on the occasion.

Located amidst natural environs, the crafts bazaar is a one-stop answer for the connoisseur of traditional art and crafts. From bracelets to decorative artefacts that can change the decor of the house, everything is available. While the Benaras stalls boast of a good collection of handmade saris, the jute stalls from Kolkata have a good collection of bags, purses, letter holders, tablemats and hammocks. The beautiful motifs and the radiant colour combinations are sure to make one stop and steal a second look.

SARIS GALORE: The mela has a wide range to choose from.

The small wooden boxes from Rajasthan, with pictures and portraits on top, certainly make heads turn in appreciation and awe. The Ghaziabad stall, which has a wide range of bedsheets, is a must-visit one. With an assemblage of beautiful bedsheets and bedspreads, with Christmas trees, teddy bears and other motifs adorning the fabric, they can make ideal gifts during the festive season. The footwear from Jodhpur is worth a look.

The Patiala stall stores bandhni suits and short tops which are worth buying. The Gujarat stall has a lovely collection of lehenga-cholis and salwars in beautiful shades with exclusive beadwork. The textile and craft wealth of Andhra Pradesh is on display too. There are stalls from many places like Mangalagiri, Pochampalli, Pedana, Venkatagiri, and Gadwal. Truly, a representation of a mini India, considering the number of people who have flocked here to be a part of the mela.

FOR YOUR HOMES: Wall hangings from different places.

The crafts fair has several other stalls with many interesting items. The vegetable-dyed and block-printed kurtas of Patiala are a good buy. The batik kurtas, saris and dress materials also deserve a buy. The sprawling grounds are also filled with terracotta items ranging from tabletops to impressive decorative items. There is an exquisite collection of crockery and ceramics from Khurja. Stalls offering artificial jewellery and small decorative items made of stones and glass beads find a ready clientele in girls and women. A lot of foreigners are also thronging to have a dekko at the mela.

Says Organic Chemistry professor at the University of Delft, Netherlands, Roger Sheldon, "We do have some handicrafts in the Netherlands, too, but this place is really great. The rock scenery is beautiful."

Food stalls are attracting maximum people. Foodies can have a gala time as there are enough stalls dishing out the best Andhra and Chinese cuisine, amongst others. Do stop over these stalls to satiate the hunger after much walking. Tired tourists can indulge in wading through the serene waters amidst natural rock formations, in small paddle boats.

BEDSHEET SPREAD: These are colourful.

With sundown, the whole place becomes even more effervescent. Live folk dances and other cultural programmes are performed at the open-air theatre from 6.30 p.m. Those interested can sit and watch.

Don't forget to shake hands with Lord Hanuman there! This year, there are exciting rural games, never seen before. Also, the visitors can put on mehendi or else have a portrait of theirs done, in a few minutes. And yes, you can take a bullock-cart drive through the crafts village for just Rs. 5 to get the feel of a real village. The crafts mela is on till December 31.


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