India has a rich history and heritage of arts & crafts from different regions, and a growing tourism industry. Combining the two can help empower livelihoods in rural India while giving India’s crafts heritage the visibility it deserves.
In these days of rampant standardisation, globalisation, and mass production, cultural references have rapidly blurred. However, there is now a growing desire in people to return to their origins. They want to explore traditional know-how, and values concentrated in traditional industries and the arts & crafts.
This has created many opportunities to expose city dwellers – and indeed all Indians – to our traditional arts & crafts, lives of rural artisans, and the ethos of traditional, eco-friendly materials and processes of traditional industries. Art & Craft tourism will help citizens rediscover the pride of Made in India, embodied in our traditional Arts & Crafts, many of which are as old as the Ramayana, and our aesthetic and intellectual property.
Arts & crafts clusters, co-operatives, Self Help Groups (SHGs), and artisans exist all over India, and importantly, in regions where tourism is not a traditional activity. These constitute a valuable network which could be voluntarily redeployed in a balanced strategy of demographic and tourism management.
Raghurajpur in Odisha, Swamimalai in Tamil Nadu, and Nayagram in West Bengal are some of the art & craft heritage villages that have attracted many visitors from around the country, and plenty more “arty” villages around the country have scope for many, many more.
Incomes & Recognition in their own environments
These arts & crafts are the inheritors of centuries of traditional skills and complex knowledge acquired after long periods of apprenticeship. The arts & crafts represent, economically, strong value-added activities. Developing and integrating them within a network of tourism offerings can benefit the whole collective economically. It can create a new dynamism and providing sustainability for both sectors.
Says Pramodkumar Maharana, a Palm Pattachitra artist from Raghurajpur, “Groups of conscious, art & craft-loving tourists can generate good spurts in income and recognition for artisans and allied personnel in our village. We get these in our own secure environments, without the time-consuming, tiring, and often insecure travel that we otherwise need to do to peddle our art & craft.”
India has more than 3,000 crafts, many of which are struggling for survival. Our country’s culture is embodied in its arts & crafts—our mythology, nature, customs, and very often our science can be found in them. Art & Craft come from everyday utility items—baskets & boxes, pottery, kitchen utilities, jewellery, and our rich textile traditions.
Travellers will get to enjoy the depth of India’s arts & crafts along with the sights and sounds of nearby historical and scenic places.
Make and take home your own art & craft!
Tourists get to witness demos of the crafts, and participate in hands-on workshops in making their own art & craft items. They get to meet the artisans and know their lives. Tourists can also witness first-hand the ethos, designs, tools, techniques, and materials that define the crafts. Each workshop participant takes home rich and unique memories, and their own souvenirs.
Pune-based Heart for Art Trust and Black Swan Journeys have come together to create unique Art & Craft Tours for art & craft lovers, and for discerning travellers who are looking for rich experiences different from run-of-the-mill destinations. They announced three Art & Craft tours covering Tamil Nadu–Puducherry, Gujarat–Kutch, and West Bengal–Odisha, covering 15+ unique arts & crafts on each tour.
Shishir Nikam, CEO, Black Swan Journeys, says, “We help travellers embark on a journey with experts. During your journey, various specialists may join you and share their insights. From art & craft and archaeology to food and adventure, our knowledgeable guides and subject matter experts will help you dig deeper.” Black Swan Journeys is a customised experiential travel company that caters to every need of the discerning traveller. They believe that every holiday and trip is unique, much like the traveller, and can expose one to new experiences.