As the Betwa river welcomes you with open arms, walk right into the heart of India- Madhya Pradesh. This region has charm and allure like no other place. The vigorous expanse of clear water flows through the Rajghat Dam, which also happens to be one of the largest dams in India. As you make your way into the hinterland and cross the large plots of farm land stepping into Pranpur, a small village (just north of Chanderi), you you will witness to your delight, the absence of large crowds and the hullabaloo of the city life. The villagers are very welcoming and humble enough to invite you over for a meal, or at the least, have a cup of tea with them.
Chanderi is known to have its roots back in Vedic history and is believed to be found by Lord Krishna’s cousin, Shishupal.
While crossing the narrow lanes of the village, you will be acquainted with the idea that there were several communities that coexisted in that village and almost all of them shared the same mode of income, of weaving beautiful Chanderi sarees that have been the highlight of Chanderi since ages.
Weaving in Chanderi began as early as the 14th century era and continues till date. Named after the historically strategic town of Madhya Pradesh to which it belongs, Chanderi is a hand-woven fabric, unique in its translucent and sheer texture. What lends the fabric this quality is not the fine thread used for weaving, but the use of single flature yarn. In this type of yarn, the “glue” of the raw yarn is not removed, and this non-degumming causes the finished fabric to shine in its transparency. While the transparent yarn might be of cotton or silk, about 90% of Chanderi saris are made from a cotton-silk blend. The fabric has been around for about 600 years now since the Mughal period.
The town of Chanderi is home to about 3500 families of various communities who base their livelihood on the weaving of Chanderi fabrics. In the last four years, there has been an unprecedented boom in the demand for Chanderi saris and fabrics. This has led to an improvement in the wages and working conditions of the weavers.
There is always a head potter and a head weaver, the one who will take you across various households and acquaint you with the works of various other artists and how their work and culture is celebrated in their village. Try your hand in pottery and contribute to their collection of mud utensils, making which is usually a woman’s job, as the men out there believe that their job is making the larger murals for the festive season. Pass through the traditional stepwell- also known as the “baoli”, where children are normally seen splashing water on each other.
The “clickety clack” sounds will grow rapidly as you walk through the bylanes of this artistically rich part of Chanderi. The sounds of the weaver’s loom will make you curious to sneak peek in any of the houses. Spend some good amount of time inside the houses where the weaving of Chanderi sarees is done and know your artistic side better as you try your hand on the loom of the weaver. Apart from spending time with the family, take along a few artworks back home!
Pranpur is one place that rejoices its art form like no other place does and adds to the rich cultural heritage of this country. Where not many places in and around India make a serious attempt at making its presence felt, there are places like Chanderi, that through the medium of its artwork and the expertise it has in the field of pottery, climb up the ladder one step at a time to make its remarkable existence in todays world.
Not only is this town known for its artworks, but also for the various monuments, museums, temples and palaces that bring glory to Chanderi. The town is full of historical landmarks, dating from the 11th century to the 18th century. A ;large number of monuments are constructed in the main town as well as on the outskirts. To name a few there are the Kaushak Mahal, Thubon, Chanderi museum, Jain temples, village’s stepwell, Jama masjid and Badal Mahal, that mesmerises any traveller traveling to this counterpart. Other activities include visiting the homes of the weavers and potters during the heritage walk in Pranpur (we have been there and witnessed all of it by ourselves).
So don’t miss out on this colourful place while on your visit to India for their is a lot more than meets the eye!