28 June, 2018

Digital printed saree

When I was in Pune, I bought two sarees. One was cotton paithani that I wore previously and the other is this digital printed saree. It has Tara Devi in its aanchal and the borders have some statue figures along with elephants and horses. The feel of the saree is like an old sculpture of the caves- totally like Ajanta and Ellora caves or Elephanta caves. It has that old, vintage look and feel but with a very modern twist. the fabric is soft tussar. The saree felt like wearing a piece of art.

Wore it to a very dear friend's baby shower and farewell. 

Such lovely food- all homemade- scones, Börek, corn bread. It was yum.

27 June, 2018

Passapalli Ikat Saree

Remember I had a saree haul from Utkalika in Delhi. Check out my previous buys from there here. Utkalika is the Odisha state emporium in Delhi. This stunning saree is woven in Sambalpur. It has double ikat. It is evident from its Passapalli motifs. You can also see lotus and some birds in the aanchal. It has small checks which are very tedious to weave through tie and dye ikat technique.
I matched it with a blouse that is a mix of ikat and ajrakh.
This saree is a unique mix of traditional and smart/contemporary. The colour is gorgeous Cerulean blue.

25 June, 2018

Bhujodi saree

Bhujodi, famous for its woven shawls has reimagined the patterns of the shawls in a saree. This happened a couple of years back. With the passage of time, the beautiful extra wefts of the shawls have been tried on other products like sarees, stoles, bed covers, fabrics, etc. This saree is a testimony to the hardwork and innovation that artisans keep bringing to the market. Today, the sarees are made using different materials like organic cotton, mercerised cotton, silk etc. The product here is made from organic cotton called Kala cotton. It is handwoven on a handloom. The dyes used are natural.

The weavers here say, "Our purpose is to give exclusivity to your wardrobe with minimal environmental impact".

Featuring a mishmash of colour block and stripes throughout the body, mini triangles and pom-poms at the pallu, this handloom woven Bhujodi Kutch saree in cotton is an amalgam of classic pattern and desi techniques.
Bhujodi is a small village in Gujarat, occupied by handloom weavers who specialise in producing beautiful textile and fashion products that are classy, traditional and contemporary. Their collection has attracted great appreciation thus contributing towards new opportunities of expression, new techniques, innovative designs and new means for the craftsmen to connect to the society.
The saree is beautifully handwoven on a pit loom in Kutch, Gujarat.
The product is designed by paramparik karigar. His family is engaged in this craft for decades now. Bhujodi has been home to the "weavers" for centuries.
Up until fifty years ago, weaving was not a year-round activity. Bhujodi's inhabitants dedicated half of the year to farming, and the other half to weaving. But due to climatic shifts that caused inconsistency of the monsoon and its consequential lack of water, farming became less reliable. In order to sustain a living, the shift to weaving became the community's main livelihood.

The village of Bhujodi is now full of weavers. 
Bhujodi is one of the villages that has reclaimed itself as a major centre for woven cotton and woollen textiles. But how does one distinguish the quality of a weaver's work from that of another, beyond that relative degree of "taste" that one may own, or years of expertise most people do not possess? It's just like handwriting. Some have good handwriting, some have bad handwriting.

Good weavers work with their mind. The mind needs to "see" the pieces. Some people do not see it. But those who have been the benefactors of generational continuity see it. It is not just about weaving--the mind needs to be trained. They have lived with the art and have been weaving for generations so they recognize what quality needs to be.

The best weavers are recognizable by the borders they weave. Tradition dictates a certain technique for the weave, identifiable in the number of thread counts, a specific design, and orientation of the weave. In essence, the weaver knows and understands the technique. This refined "language" and code help distinguish the novices from the skilful artisans. The newcomers don't know.

Besides its telltale function to identify the skilled, the border also has a functional purpose. When a shawl is worn, the edges are the first to deteriorate. Hence, the borders are not just about design or aesthetics, it is also about function.

"Certain weavers, they just want to sell. They don't even think about tradition and what our forefathers did. "

Its vast, barren wetlands make the Rann of Kachchh a recurring landscape in Bollywood movies, but the iconic region was ruptured during 2001’s devastating earthquake. As support poured in – in the form of funds and NGO intervention – revival projects were founded on local textile and handicraft traditions of the regions.

I am wearing my Bhujodi saree with khun blouse.

21 June, 2018

Khesh saree

I have posted this saree earlier here. At that time I had not painted it. I had also paired it with a different blouse during winters. Today it is in a different avatar with a painted blouse and pallu. Also, read a lot of information about how khesh sarees are woven here.
Khesh weaving is practised in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Khesh Saree is an addition in the bucket of traditional saris of Bengal. It is a must during festivals. Khesh Cotton Sarees are the true gift from Bengal that comes in a pretty range of colours, patterns and designs to beautify your ethnic wardrobe. The khesh weaving process is simple. The warp is with new yarn and the weft is with strips of thin cloth obtained by tearing old sarees lengthwise. The Khesh sarees are handcrafted using fresh weaves as well as recycled old sarees. Khesh weaving is an ingenious recycling technique.

20 June, 2018

Assam saree with Tribal motifs

My paternal uncle used to stay in Namrup in Assam. Every time he would come, he would bring beautiful Assamese sarees for my grandmother and my mom. Some of them even in Muga silk. Sadly, we do not have a single piece left from that collection. In 2012, when I was actively dealing with weavers and selling sarees online, I remember selling Muga silk saree for only Rs. 10,000/- See the blog post here. Recently, I was on a lookout for Assamese sarees. I prefer searching in government emporiums where they cost less than half the price of what the online sellers sell it for. Also, I get more authentic sarees there. I was surprised to find that even in government emporium, good muga silk saree with a traditional gold colour and red motifs and palla or multicolor motifs and palla was no less than Rs.50,000/- My heart yearned for the sarees which my uncle used to bring at that time and no one took special care to preserve them. Sarees are a woman's longest companion. They need to be taken care of. They can outlive you. Their warp and weft have stories woven in them. They are certainly the owner's pride who unknowingly leaves behind a legacy for the next generation. It is certainly worth investing in them. Let your wardrobe be rich with handloom stories. Today muga silk sarees are costing a bomb. You have to pay a lot if the price for a muga saree, which you cannot even wear on a very formal occasion. I had to settle to buy an Assamese cotton saree. 
A Conventional handloom Assam cotton saree has all over small butti design on the base with a red border and gorgeous pallu. Its beautiful patterns give a different look and set it apart from any other handloom design. This saree is pretty, soft and very lightweight to carry. It has an elegant look and soft fall. They wrap you in like a gleeful girlfriend. I paired it with a khun blouse.

18 June, 2018

Bhangarh fort in Rajasthan

I went for a weekend trip to Jaipur. Below are the pictures of the hotel I stayed in- Le Meridian. You can see me also on Instagram.
On our way back, we took a detour and visited the most haunted place in India. Read about it below and see the pictures. The place certainly had an eerie feel to it.
I am wearing Arupukottai handloom cotton saree. I just cannot explain how soft and comfortable this saree is. In scorching heat, I should also call it an airconditioner saree.  These sarees are from Tamil Nadu.

The uniqueness of aruppukottai mercerised cotton sarees are the heavy look and striking colour combination used to hand weave the stripes, checks and colour contrast with broad borders. The plain saree body is designed with a traditional border stripe. 

Bhangarh Fort ranks 1st in the list of haunted places in India and is one of the main tourist attractions for people visiting Rajasthan.
Located at the border of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in the Alwar district of RajasthanBhangarh Fort is a 17th-century fort, infamous all over India for being the “Most haunted place in India“. Because of the numerous ghostly experiences and happenings in the fort premises, villages have sprung up far away from the fort, due to the fear of what lies within. Even the Archaeological Survey of India or the ASI has forbidden the locals and tourists from entering the fort at night. This completely ruined, haunted fort of Bhangarh does have a very eerie, negative aura to it. Several legends have attested to the paranormal happenings inside the fort.

Bhangarh Fort History

The history of the fort dates back to centuries. Built in the 17th Century in Rajasthan, the Bhangarh fort is an ancient specimen. It was believed to have been erected by Man Singh I, one of the Navratnas of Akbar’s court for his son Madho Singh I.
There are always two sides to the story of the Bhangarh Fort, haunted for generations. Let me relate the story first. The two sides can wait for some time.

Bhangarh Fort Haunted Stories

Coming back to the dual facets- there are two stories still surviving in the form of legends, which have tried to give a meaning to the eerie atmosphere which surrounds the haunted fort of Bhangarh.

Haunted Story 1: A Place Lost in the Shade

The first legend claims that a king named Madho Singh raised the Bhangarh fort after obtaining due permission from an ascetic named Bala Nath who lived there; having agreed to a condition which said that the shadow of the fort must never fall upon the home of the ascetic. But as fate would have it, one of the ambitious successors of Madho Singh added to the fortifications vertically, thereby causing its ominous shadow to engulf the abode of the ascetic. Lo and Behold, once it came to pass, the fort was doomed within no time. The alleged prophecy stood fulfilled, and the Bhangarh Fort became haunted.

Haunted Story 1: A Place Caught in a Limbo

A second legend behind the Bhangarh Fort haunted, more popular than the first one, claims that Princess Ratnavati of Bhangarh was responsible for the apocalyptic situation which befell the fort. A local black magician fell in love with her (the princess is believed to have been very beautiful) and once tried to bewitch a cosmetic she was supposed to use, to make her fall in love with him. The princess smelled suspicion and foiled the entire conspiracy of the black magician by pouring the bewitched cosmetic over a massive stone boulder, which then supposedly crushed the ‘tantrik’ to death. Before the magician breathed his last, he placed a curse upon the entire landscape that no soul would ever be able to live in peace there. The entire landscape around the Bhangarh Fort has been haunted since.

The Bhangarh Fort haunted is like other forts in Rajasthan, and is surprisingly well preserved. Its ramparts and fortifications stand amidst the ruins of the ghost town by the same name. Legends have it that the fort and the surrounding establishments around it once buzzed with life. Then something happened along with a chain of other unfortunate incidents which led to the doom of the place within a very short span of time.

Bhangarh Fort at Night

No one is allowed to enter the fort after sunset or before sunrise. The entire landscape is subsumed by a pall of gloom and a chilling hollowness once the last ray of sunlight bids adieu until its arrival the next morning. There are many local tales about the paranormal activities in the fort. It totally depends on a person whether he would believe it or not. It is said that the spirits roam in Bhangarh fort at night and various strange noises are heard. Also as it is said, anyone who enters the fort at night would not be able to return in the morning.
One constantly feels as if their movements are being watched, and the air is charged with a dizzying heaviness. A board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India cautions the visitors not to venture within the premises of the fort during the dark hours.

The haunted fort of Bhangarh has had several stories associated with it. Believing on of them is akin to believing that the fort indeed is haunted, and this is a tale that has been in circulation for years. There is evidence to support the claim of those who say that those tried their luck either went missing or weren’t able to explain anything coherently. You might say that the entire episodes were mere figments of imagination by ruminating minds, but the fact remains a fact.

The Brighter Side

The fort is situated at the edge of a lusciously green expanse of Sariska Tiger Reserve between Alwar and Jaipur and is not very far away from Delhi either. The fort was clearly modelled upon the medieval city of Shahjahanabad, with four massive wooden gates in every direction. The precincts of the fort have ornately carved a miniature waterfall and temples which lend an air of tranquillity to the place during the better part of the day. The remnants of some palaces within the fort are clear indicators of the fort’s prosperity during its heydey. The fort would have been a tourist hotspot for its serene atmosphere during the day and the architectural marvel that the fort is, and as a matter of fact, it is. It is a tourist attraction and it does attract hordes of tourists during the day, but for all the wrong reasons. Local folks would have you believe that no one dares to build a house with a roof in the vicinity of the fort. The roof collapses shortly after being built.

How To Reach

Bhangarh Fort From Alwar

The nearest town to Bhangarh is Alwar in Rajasthan. The distance from Alwar to Bhangarh is about 90 Km, for which taxis and buses are available from Alwar.