After visiting Great Rann of Kutch [White desert], as per locals suggested I decided to visit a village naming Ajrakhpur which is worldwide famous for Ajrakh Print; block printing on cloth. During my trip, I had seen that print on dresses, shawls and witnessing the process and knowing about it in detail enthralled me. Kutch is very well known for its numerous art and crafts.
Ajrakhpur is 15 km from Bhuj, a tiny village where ancestors of Muslim Khatri community of block printers adapted the art of Ajrakh. The block printing uses colors derived from nature; such as indigo, henna, turmeric, pomegranate, iron and mud. The printing blocks are hand-carved and work involves No machinery or automation; it is totally handy work and manual procedure. Against white salty canvas of Kutch desert, the rich colors of textiles add life in it.
Ajrakh – It is type of textile production which is a millennium old tradition of weaving and dyeing textiles which originate back to Indus Valley Civilization of North West of India over thousands of years. This highly skilled and patterned ajrakh block print came to Kutch from Sindh Province [Pakistan] 400 years ago when the Muslim Khatris settled in village of Dhamdka. But the 2001 devasting earthquake damaged the Dhamdka village; they had to shift to new village “Ajrakhpur’ to rebuild their lives and craft production. Today Khatris live and work in both of these villages.
Ajrakh Print involves laborious work with complex process of 16 different stages of dyeing and printing. In some cases, the fabrics are washed up to 20 times. It takes 14-20 days to complete one fabric. The beauty of ajrakh relies on expert manipulation of dyeing and printing.The dye sources come from natural resources like blue from indigo plant, black from waste iron and jeggery, yellow from pomegranate rinds etc.
The Printing is done by wooden blocks which are made from hard woods. The design is carved on to the blocks which is the main tool for printing. The blocks for each color are used separately. These blocks are dipped in to dye and placed onto the fabric with skilled precision. Final product comes with beautiful print after washing it.
I had also seen that lot of water is used for completing whole process and there are NGOs who are working on it to the use of recycling water for this process.
After Ajrakhpur, my second stop was Bhujodi village. Bhujodi is 8 km from Bhuj and one can visit in return from ajrakhpur. Bhujodi is popularly known for Hira Lakshmi craft Park [closed on Monday] where you can see different art work with artisan who are at work.
Bhujodi is a small village with narrow streets align with shops and mostly houses and workshops in backyard. After passing by few shops, I entered into one workshop cum house where artisans were busy weaving a Shawl. While men in the family are busy in weaving, women were busy in preparing thread from yarn for weaving. Then one of them explained the process for weaving a shawl from buying cotton to making thread and weaving it on loom. There were so many different stalks of shawls in the shop with different materials used in it. The weavers of bhujodi are mostly from vankar community whose routes are in Rajasthan.
If you are in love with textiles, Ajrakhpur and Bhujodi are the places to visit during the trip to Rann of Kutch. It will not disappoint you at all!!
How to Reach:
Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur are well connected by public Transportation from Bhuj. The best possible way is hiring an auto for day trip.
Other Villages to Visit:
- Kukma Village – Located 16 Kms from bhuj houses NGO Khamir is one of the main weaving center of Kutch. NGO works with weavers of Kutch to strengthen and promote the rich artisan traditions of Kutch.
- Bhirndayara Village-It is on the way to Great White Rann where every house has artisans.The local Meghwal community is known for its fine embroidery and colourful mud bhungas with mirror work.
- Khavada – the town has excellent potters and leather craftsmen and ajrakh blockprinting at Khatrivas. You can get locally made leather and textile products here.
- Hodko – The village is on the way to White Rann of Kutch. The village has cluster of families and famous for its crafts like mirror work,wall hangings,mud work, silver jwellery etc.
- Dhordo – The village is beside the White Rann occupied by mutwa community hails from Sindh.The women are indigenous with thread and needle;creates amazing embroidery that is patterned around mirror.