Murshidabad is a place of historic importance situated on the southern bank of River Bhagirathi. It was the last capital of Independent Bengal from 1717 to 1773 when the East India Company shifted its capital to Kolkata. The present city is renowned for its silks and places of historical interest. It also serves as the district head quarters of Murshidabad district.
Tussar Silk is produced from silkworms. It is also known as Tusser, Tushar and Tussah and the sarees made from this particular silk is very popular in India. Its popularity is due to the gold sheen and has shorter fibres. It is the chosen material for saris and also punjabis for Indian men. The gold sheen makes it appear rich textured and also shimmering. Bulk production is Tussar silk is done in India out of which around 40% is from West Bengal. The tussar silk sarees produced in Bankura are famous for their kantha stitch which is a particular type of stitching process done by hand instead of machines. Kantha stitched silk sarees are quite expensive and exquisite. Tussar silk sarees are available in various beautiful colors. Tussar silk is also used to make punjabis for men and salwar suits for ladies. These traditional apparels also appear beautiful made from this silk. Producing Tussar silk is considered to be a cottage industry in Bankura where a large number of handlooms are found. This is a tradition of Bankura and thus the weavers still maintain the conventional handloom process to produce the silk sarees. Tussar Silk is also known by another name which is Kosa Silk. Tussar Silk clothes are exported to Gulf countries, to the USA and also various European countries.
Some of the characteristic features of Tussar Silk are:
- Various natural shades
- Light and airy
- Provides a comfortable and cool feeling
- Rich coarse texture
- Delicate in nature
Maintaining Tussar Silk
Maintaining tussar silk clothes takes a little caring. Dry washing the clothes is the safest option so that it retains its natural texture. You can also use cold water for clothes other than sarees to wash off the dirt. But remember to wash it with gentle hands since it’s delicate. Avoid using chemical bleach and never dry in directly under the sun. Silk needs to breathe and hence you must not store in inside paper. Fold it nicely and store it. Some of the most popular colors in tussar silk are magenta, red, turquoise, gold, dark teal, ultramine, chocolate and purple.
The Bishnupur region in Bankura is famous for producing Baluchari sarees that are made from tussar silk with particular types distinct of patterns on them. Woven on Jacquard punch-card looms, the Baluchari sarees have pallus and borders with episodes from Mahabharata woven on them. These exclusive sarees woven by the weavers are beautiful specimens of traditional art. However, making Baluchari sarees entail a lengthy process. The silk strands are separately dyed and put in a loom after which punch cards hanging from the upper part of the loom are used to make the designs on the strands. The punch cards shave holes in them and are rectangular in shape with various designs on them. The dyed strands are made to pass through these holes and accumulate into precise forms on the loom making some of the most desirable sarees made from silk.
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Murshidabad is a tourist destination of great historical significance. Once the seat of the Nawabs of West Bengal, Murshidabad still has that old charm and grandeur. Art and craft in Murshidabad is an integral part of the lives of the residents. The craftsmen of this district of Bengal are extremely skilled and different types of art and craft is practiced in the region.
Ivory and wood Craft
The first is the Ivory and wood craft which spans throughout Murshidabad and is considered to be an industry employing a large number of the residents. This craft dates back to the time of Nawabs in Bengal where the courts used to be beautifully embellished with ivory and wood items. In those times this industry ran under the patronization of the Nawabs and also the noblemen of the court. In the past the carvers of Murshidabad were deemed to be the best with masterpieces that were displayed in the museums across the world. The industry has however faced decline over the last few decades. You can still find some nicely carved objects near Khagra bazaar.
The Sholapith or the Indian cork craft has sustained in Murshidabad and you will get some excellent pieces of art on the items made from shola. Sholapith is basically sponge-wood milky white in color. It is soft and delicate in nature. Beautiful items are made from this wood which has a diameter of 1.5 inches and grows in the marsh lands of Murshidabad. Sholapith is extremely malleable, spongy and light. Its brilliant luster and texture makes it perfect for lovely handicraft items to enhance your home décor. This wood is specially used for making the head gear of the Bengali brides during wedding ceremonies. However, the best specimens of sholapith items can be seen during Durga Puja, one of the most elaborate ceremonies of the Bengalis where the Goddess appears beautiful with sholapith huge backdrops and also with sholapith jewelry items. All these pieces are carefully strewn by the craftsmen with intricate designs on them. Every piece appears special. Floral motifs are popular among the sholapith designs. Peacocok boats, palanquins and garlands are also common.
Bell metal or Kansa
Bell metal works or Kansa as the Bengalis refer to it is another popular craft practiced by the skilled craftsmen of Murshidabad. It is a traditional craft basically used to make utensils and are manufactured in large quantities in Kandi, Baranagar, Berhampore and Khagra. Iron chests, betelnut cutters and locks of superlative quality are also manufactured in these areas. There is a tradition of giving bell metal utensils as gifts to a bride during wedding. It is considered to be auspicious.
Production of murshidabad silk and making sarees and other silk garments is a huge industry in Murshidabad. The clothes especially sarees are in high demand in the local, national and also international markets. The Baluchar town in Murchidabad produces the famous Baluchari sarees which are gorgeous to look at. Rich in composition, these sarees have silk brocaded designs on a silk base with lovely colors. Floral motifs along with scenes from daily life are popular and also colors like scarlet, green, yellow and blue are preferred by women. Know More →
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Pallab Seth, Jyoti Prakash Bhattacharjee, Viejito, Srikanth S
The handmade artifacts of Bishnupur in Bankura are quite famous all over the world. Terracotta is the raw material with which the highly skilled craftsmen of Bishnupur create various artifacts which are magnificent in design and flawless in their shape.
Terracotta potteries and artifacts are Bengal’s wealth and have a long and glorious history. The theme of the artifact is usually a folk one and quite explicit in its execution. The clay used to make all the handcrafted items is gathered from the river beds, ditches and pits. Usually 2-3 types of clays are mixed to form an alloy to make the world class artifacts appreciated by people. The craftsmen still use the traditional form of kilns to bake the clay pots using firewood, dry leaves and twigs. The pots are baked at a temperature of 700-800 degree Celsius. Not only men but the women also help in creating these beautiful objects. The women potters generally work on the wheels to give the pots their round neck on the upper halves. These round necks are perfect in shape. The potters also make clay dolls and other toys for children. Most of these toys and dolls are cast in burnt clay moulds which are typical of Bishnupur. Not only toys and pots, they also make animal figures, wind chimes and jewelry items from burnt clay or terracotta which is quite famous. The terracotta horse structures are treasured by tourists.
Dokra Metal Casting
Dokra metal casting is another interesting form of craft practiced by the tribes of Bishnupur who are known as the Dokra Damar. This eponymous crafting technique is basically done with wax and the items created have a lovely hue and texture. The process of Dokra casting is also referred to as ‘cire perdue’ technique or lost wax casting process. Dokra items have clay as their core material over which wax is coated. After the wax coating, a clay paste coating is applied on the model and dried for some time. The traditional hollow casting method is followed by which wax is replaced by another molten metal; in this case it is usually brass. A number of objects are made from dokra which include cutlery, jewelry items, lamp, chains, religious symbols, bells and many more. People who love tribal designs buy dokra objects to beautify their homes. Dokra jewelries are also popular among women. The art of okra is a surviving legacy of the region.
Handcrafted silverware is also hallmark of Bishnupur, Bankura tradition of handicrafts. The art of making silver items is quite old in the region with many skilled craftsmen practicing it. Silver enameling is done on various figures of home décor to enhance the appearance and add to their charm. Filigree designs on silverware can be found in abundance in the region. The objects comprising of these designs look outstanding and delicate. Then there are items made from silver. Various figures, jewelry items, utensils are made from silver which are embellished with beautiful designs making them appear unparallel in their beauty. These can be the perfect gifts for special occasions.
Tussar Silk is produced from silkworms. It is also known as Tusser, Tushar and Tussah and the sarees made from this particular silk is very popular in India. Its popularity is due to the gold sheen and has shorter fibres. It is the chosen material for saris and also punjabis for Indian men. The gold sheen makes it appear rich textured and also shimmering. Bulk production is Tussar silk is done in India out of which around 40% is from West Bengal. The tussar silk sarees produced in Bankura are famous for their kantha stitch which is a particular type of stitching process done by hand instead of machines. Kantha stitched silk sarees are quite expensive and exquisite. Tussar silk sarees are available in various beautiful colors. Tussar silk is also used to make punjabis for men and salwar suits for ladies. These traditional apparels also appear beautiful made from this silk. Producing Tussar silk is considered to be a cottage industry in Bankura where a large number of handlooms are found. This is a tradition of Bankura and thus the weavers still maintain the conventional handloom process to produce the silk sarees. Tussar Silk is also known by another name which is Kosa Silk. Tussar Silk clothes are exported to Gulf countries, to the USA and also various European countries. Know More →
Sonamukhi gets its name from the local deity Swarnamukhi Devi and is a busy municipality in Bankura district in West Bengal. It is situated at a distance of 34 kilometers from Bishnupur and falls enroute to Hadal Narayanpur from Bishnupur. Apart from the temples located in Sonamukhi, it is also famous as the birthplace of KusumKumari Devi and Haranath who are deemed to be the reincarnations of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of Vaishnav sect. Sonamukhi is therefore a place of religious and well as historical significance. It also holds lots of interest for the lovers of art and architecture.
Sonamukhi has a glorious history of being one of the leading producers of cotton, silk and indigo during the British rule in India. Therefore, it has been referred to as a weavers’ village in many documents and literary books of the time. However, now the village is popular because of its terracotta temples and witnesses visitors almost throughout the year. The most famous and unique one is the Sridhar temple which has 25 pinnacles. This feature of the temple renders it a unique quality. There are only 5 such temples in Bengal and Sridhar in Sonamukhi constructed by Kanai Rudra, a weaver is one of them. The Archaeology department of the state has shown lot of interest in this temple and it has been preserved beautifully by them.
There are 5 Rasmanchas in Sonamukhi scattered in different parts of the town. You can spot them while exploring the town through its lanes, by lanes and markets. The Sridhar Temple is located in the interior and you will have to walk through a by lane to arrive at the destination. However, you will be astounded by the terracotta plaques on the temple walls. Scenes like Lord Shiva’s marriage, exchange of Lord Krishna as a child and Brahma originating from Lord Vishu’s naval are depicted on the walls. The wooden door of the temple has the typical style of temple gates in Bengal.
Some of the houses nearby are centuries old and you can see the remains of residential architectural specimens on them. At a short distance lies another temple. This is the temple of Sitala Devi. The temple is a flat roofed one with 5 pinnacled structure. Just behind the temple is the Siddeshwar Rasmancha painted in blue making a pretty picture. Nest to the Sitala temple is a Laxminarayan Jiu Temple which has been constructed following the typical duel style architecture. This temple was built in the year 1364 according to Bengali calendar.
The Swarnamukhi Temple is located in Shyambazaar area. Gaja Lakshmi is the shrine here with two elephants. The typical horse and elephant figures of Bankura can be spotted on the interiors especially on the walls. The Gopalbed area of Sonamukhi has the ruins of an ancient temple of which he pillars and the spire remain. The structures on the temple walls are quite impressive. The Giri Gobardhan and the renovated Radha Gobinda temples of Babuapara are beautiful to look at accompanied with Rasmanchas among which one is 17 pinnacled.
How to Reach
Visitors can reach Sonamukhi by road on bus and also by train.
Where to stay at Sonamukhi
In order to book the bungalow you can contact or get in touch with the DFO of the northern Division. Or you could back to Burdwan city which is 60 km form Sonamukhi.
Here are the details:
DFO- North Division,Bankura