Reviving the regional crafts of the Kachchh region
The Kachchh region in Gujarat is known for the seasonal salt desert. But this region is also home to crafts such as block printing, tie-dye, weaving, and pottery.
KHAMIR is an NGO working with local artisans to revive these crafts which are slowly dying. For example, Mashru weaving (fabric with red, yellow and black stripes) has seen a decline as cheap polyester imitations have cropped up.
Hand block printed Ajrakh refers to the patterns in a fabric that are interlinked with the experience of nature in this desert region. Natural dyes are used in this technique and require a higher amount of water. The depleting water tables of this region are forcing block printers to address both the environment and their practice to remain sustainable.
A visit to KHAMIR, 10km outside of Bhuj, enabled me to see local artisans working under a common roof with access to raw materials. I saw a first-hand weaving and pottery demonstration. The crafts resource centre also has a cute little shop where Mashru and Ajrakh fabric are sold in their finished form - beautiful shawls and traditional wear such as dupattas.
Tip: Take an auto from your hotel to get to KHAMIR and have the centre call you an auto for your return trip. Gujarat autos are honest and have a meter system so you don't need to worry about haggling for the fare.