Society

A cycle ride through the art and craft villages in 10 districts of Kerala flagged off

Vatakara Riders

Vatakara Riders   | Photo Credit: Athira M

The ride is part of ninth edition of the annual art and craft festival organised by Sargaalaya, the art and craft village in Iringal, Kozhikode

Dinesh K is the CEO of a software company. But for the next seven days, he leads a team of seven cyclists through 10 districts in Kerala, covering over 630 kilometres. They are members of Vatakara Riders, from Vadakara in Kozhikode district. Their mission: rediscovering the art and culture of Kerala through cycling.

The ride is a prelude to the ninth edition of the annual art and craft festival organised by Sargaalaya, the art and craft village in Iringal, Kozhikode. The village has been developed and operated by Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society Ltd (ULCCS), the oldest and biggest labour cooperative in Asia.

Cyclists starting the ride from Manaveeyam Veedhi in Thiruvananthapuram

Cyclists starting the ride from Manaveeyam Veedhi in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The rally, which was flagged off from the city on Thursday (December 12), covers the heritage villages adopted by Sargaalaya under its Rural Art Hub project. “This is the first time we are holding a cycle ride as part of the festival. Vatakara Riders will be joined by riders in respective districts. Forty cyclists from the city were part of the Thiruvananthapuram leg,” says Prakash Gopinath of Indus Cycling Embassy (ICE). Besides ICE, members of Trivandrum Racing League, Trivandrum Bikers Club, CET Cycling Club, SCT Cycling Club and Trivandrum Medical College Cycling Club also joined the ride.

The villages chosen as stopovers are famous for their indigenous art and craft. While they travelled to weavers’ street in Balaramapuram and crafts village in Kovalam in the capital city, in Kollam, they visited Thazhava, famous for screw pine products. In the coming days, they will cover Aranmula in Pathanamthitta, famous for its Aranmula mirror, Vadayar of Kottayam district that has a thriving pottery industry and Cherpu in Thrissur, which has a flourishing wooden handicraft business.

Staying driven
  • ULCCS has been undertaking infrastructure development in Kerala ever since it was formed in 1925. Besides construction of roads, bridges and buildings, it now runs a Special Economic Zone (UL Cyberpark) and has forayed into planning and designing, IT services, agriculture and farming.
  • Situated in 20 acres of land in Iringal, Kozhikode, Sargaalaya Craft Village gives an opportunity for visitors to understand the tradition and heritage of our handicraft industry. The art and craft festival will feature over 400 artisans, representing different States. Craftsmen from countries such as Uganda, Uzbekistan, Mauritius, Kyrgyztan, Thailand, Iran, Belarus, and Zimbabwe are expected to participate.

They will also be travelling to Peruvambu in Palakkad district, well-known for its handloom industry and artisans who make musical instruments and Aruvacode of Malappuram that has pottery units. Thrikkaipetta in Wayanad, also known as bamboo village, and Kunhimangalam in Kannur, famous for metal artisans, are other places in the list before the ride culminates at Sargaalaya village on December 19.

“We have all undertaken BRM (Brevet des Randonneurs Mondiaux) or long-distance cycling events. But this is something unique. And if this is successful, we hope to work out an itinerary for those who want to cover Kerala on their cycle. Many Indians are going to other countries for cycle expeditions. Once we have an itinerary, we can bring riders from other countries to our State,” says Dinesh.

Other cyclists in the group are Prasoon CB, Sajeesh PK, Sibi PK, Sreejesh SG, Praveen Darma, Sanjith K, and Anandhu Pavithran. “We are all from Vadakara and are passionate about cycling.

“The club was formed four years ago and now we have 46 members. All of us are in different professions and we have government officials, bankers, engineers, software professionals among others. But when it comes to cycling, we don’t mind taking leave,” he adds.

Keeping in with zero carbon emission concept, the riders are escorted by Mahindra’s eSupro electric vehicle.

PP Bhaskaran, CEO of Sargaalaya Crafts Village, says cycle ride was incorporated in the festival as part of the ULCCS’s social commitment. “We make roads and bridges and now our aim is to make our roads friendly for pedestrians, cyclists and the visually challenged,” he observes.

The art and craft festival begins at Sargaalaya on December 19 and will be on till January 6, 2020.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:17:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/a-cycle-ride-to-revive-interest-in-art-and-craft-of-kerala/article30285099.ece

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