Tribal villages, artisans and modern art – Chhattisgarh

“Is it eccentric to live in beautiful scenery in the hills among some of the most charming people in the country, even though they may be ignorant and poor?” Verrier Elwin quoted by GN Devy (The Oxford India Elwin)

India Today, July 14, 2011

Tribal villages
It is truly an enriching human experience to visit a tribal village. Generally these picturesque villages of mud huts painted bright blue, and paths marked by artistic wooden fences, are some way off the highway.You can hire a car and a local guide, such as Harihar Vaishnav from Kondagaon, to accompany you, show the way and translate.

Renowned British Ethnographer Dr. Verrier Elwin spent almost three decades living with the tribes of Central India, documenting their culture and you should read some of his books (found online) before you visit. Harihar Vaishnav, guide and folklorist, Sargipalpara, Kondagaon; e-mail: lakhijag@sancharnet.in

The Chhattisgarh art foundation
Run by Niranjan Mahawar, this is a must visit for those interested in sculpture and art. Mr. Mahawar is a tribal art collector with a personal collection of 400 original handcrafted bronze pieces, 2,000 unique combs of the kind given by young tribal men to girls during courtship, and many Gond Soura and Warli paintings. Make an appointment; Niranjan Mahawar, Choubey Colonytel; Tel: (0771) 406 0054

Chhattisgarh haat
Now you can buy the famous arts and crafts of this state in Raipur itself, at Chhattisgarh Haat, a state organised outdoor craft market. This is where you can browse for some terracotta and brass sculptures and the fabulous textiles of Chhattisgarh. Near Pandari Kapadaa market; open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

Sirpur
For lovers of history and archaeology, a visit to Sirpur will be highly memorable. The Laxman Temple in Sirpur stands on the banks of the Mahanadi River and is the oldest temple in India fashioned out of bricks.It has many exquisite, rare statues and relics from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths. More recently, archaeologists have discovered a 1,500 year old ancient floor during excavation. A must visit. About an hour’s drive from Raipur.

Contemporary art
Make some time to meet Sushil Sakhuja, a self-made sculptor based in Raipur. He learnt the fine technique of lost wax brass casting from the Gadwaa sculptors of Kondagaon, five hours by road towards Jagdalpur.As a recognised contemporary artist, Sushil has travelled and exhibited extensively abroad and also collaborated with several international artists on shows and installations.

Multiple award-winner, Sushil received the prestigious award, Original Work of the Symposym-2010 in Russia for his ice sculpture. He still has a studio in Kondagaon where he works closely with the Gadwaa sculptors who continue to inspire his work. Log on to www.sushils.com. For details or e-mail him at sushil.sakhuja@gmail.com

Saathi
A few miles from Kondagaon is Saathi, an NGO that works to promote local artisans. You can visit their arts centre in Kumharpada, just ahead of Kondagaon. You can buy local crafts here, including wrought iron work, brass sculptures and terracotta.

The organisation also offers facilities for staying and arrangements can be made to participate in sculpture workshops. Saathi, Kumharpada, Post Girola, Kondagaon; Tel: (0)94252 59152, (0)99938 61686. For stay in Kondagaon, Jainam Palace is an option; Tel: (07786) 243 444 […]

Village haats
You can’t miss the weekly haats that are held in almost every village. You will find locals thronging these markets buying and selling, sometimes even bartering!You can sample local snacks and the local liquor made from dried mahua flowers. It’s a lively, cheerful experience, resonant of the Chhattisgarhi lifestyle. […]

Outside Raipur: Gadwaa brass sculptures >>

Source: India secrets: Chhattisgarh : Travel Plus News – India Today
Address : http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/india-secrets-chhattisgarh/1/144851.html
Date Visited: Fri Oct 28 2011 11:13:44 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Santal village near Santiniketan >>
Photo © Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation
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