Bhuj! As we got down from the rickety GSRTC bus, the Bhujjiya fort wall appeared as though it was welcoming us with it’s hands wide open, circling around the entire place. It took us half a day to grasp the wonder of Aina Mahal and work through a sweet corn by the Hamirsar lake at Bhuj. Our main idea was of course to visit the handicraft villages around Bhuj. The whole of Kutch region is segmented like that. If one village is famous for leather work, the other for their tinkering bells, the other for block prints and Bhujodi for their weaving. Bhujodi being the closest we hoped into an auto and chugged along into the village.
The small village was more or less one straight street with shops lined on either sides, nestled among them were the houses of the weavers itself. The beauty of Kutch is that where ever you turn there is art. Be it decorating a camel or the women folks dressing up or their houses painted with beautiful designs and mirrors shining on them; everywhere there is art and beauty. So you can imagine how awesome their designs will be. The first shop we stumbled on had bhatik collections, beautiful beaded hats, mirrored hand bags and clutches and an array of belts. Our next stop was a shoe shop. Impressive designs at such reasonable rate! I wanted to pack a bunch of them but my giant feet was just not happy with the elegant sandals. So I had to pass them and we proceeded walking down the village.
As we walked by we peeped into a house and asked, “can we come in?” Like any warm village house we were welcomed in. To our luck it turned out to be the weaver’s workshop plus house and the artisan was busy weaving a shawl while in another corner a man was spinning thread. Both of them enthusiastically explained how they buy cotton, spin into yards of thread, starch them, store them, die them, wash them and weave them. Bundles of threads were lying around and the charka was in motion as he picked pieces of cotton and spun them into thread. On another side the weaver had rows of thread stacked in his loom. “Did you visit Vishram bhai’s shop? If not you have to go there..”, said the weaver while his hands were swiftly moving between the close strands of thread creating beautiful designs.
As we entered Vishram bhai’s shop, an old Kutchi lady was sitting in the courtyard making vivid patterns of embroidery over a stitched quilt. Vishram bhai’s shop is something you should not miss in Bhujodi. Why? Because he has the most beautifully designed shawls, carpets, bedsheets, quilts in all rates; they are national award winners. He was patiently showing us his different creations in spite of realizing we were poor travelers who were not gonna spend much. It was too irresistible that we picked up few pieces. After gulping down a tumbler of Chaas, he again checked on for some coffee!! Well, the warmth of their hospitality is still lingering on.
By now I was running more than the budget allocated for shopping! But we were told block printing in Ajrakhpur is pretty famous and few kilometers away from Bhujodi we decided to see how block prints are made. They use natural dye for the clothes! Did you know that? There were mixtures of old rustic iron and jaggery giving a deep black shade, jamuns from the babul tree giving a deep red shade and mixing of them providing yet another shade! The cloth used as well goes through various stages before coming under the block. Needs lot of concentration to put the blocks in the right pattern one after another. They are also famous for the traditional Bandhani (tie and dye) suits. Again the friendly people of the village were giving us a tour of how block prints are made and how bandhani has to be patiently tied and dyed.
With our purchases done more than enough by visiting the whole sale shops in the villages and their houses, we skipped the big handicraft showrooms. There is something for everyone to be bought at Bhujodi. Don’t miss purchasing here if you are on your way to Rann Of Kutch.
How To Reach Bhujodi:
I hired a full day auto rickshaw aka Indian tuk tuk from Bhuj and went around the nearby villages..
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