KUTCH, FOR A CREATIVE SOUL

As humans, we traditionally savoured the simplicity of living that came from working manually, eating locally and loving fully. Fast forward to the present day Kutchi village, and it feels as though not much has changed. The local artist communities in the small hamlets of Kutch still reside in painted bhungas (circular mud homes with sloping thatched roofs); wear vibrantly-coloured, mirror-filled, patchwork garb; and nurture centuries-old art and crafts. A wander through these villages is like stepping back in time when the world wasn’t constantly connected, machines couldn’t talk and relationships weren’t complicated. Thankfully, the ethos of Kutch isn’t lost to modernisation and contemporary mannerisms!

Stretching along the Tropic of Cancer, from Rajasthan to the edge of Pakistan and the Arabian Sea, Kutch is a fusion of several semi-nomadic communities that migrated from as far as Sindh, Baluchistan and Afghanistan, nearly five centuries ago. They may have left their homes but they brought with them their signature art forms as well as compelling stories, experiences, history, culture and traditions that laid the foundation of the region’s rich heritage and social fabric. Even today, each of the communities express themselves through their art and textiles, only hoping to keep their craft alive for years to come.

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BIKANER – A CITY OF GOLDEN SANDS & STARRY SKIES

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For me, the desert town of Bikaner has always been synonymous with famed Bikaneri bhujia! Overshadowed by its celebrity cousins – Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, the remote town in Thar desert remains fairly under-explored as a holiday destination. The ravishing red is lost somewhere, amid hues of blue, pink and golden! However, only when I happen to explore the vibrant city on a long weekend break with my partner, I discover that it has a lot more to offer other than the sev-like, crunchy snack packed in shiny foil packets.
After alighting the small Air India flight at Nal airport which is also the Bikaner Air Force Station, we are on our way to Narendra Bhawan which is around 16 km from the airport.
Local woman in Bikaner
During the drive, we see camel carts treading on clean, wide roads, independent houses (each one constructed in its own unique style) awash with colour and village belles sauntering in flowing skirts, with a ghunghat drawn over their faces, right till the chin. Our very first impression of Bikaner says a lot about the flavour of the city! We are delighted to see that it has a genuine untramelled vibe and a certain rustic charm.

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