Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sanganer- Handmade Paper

Sanganer has been producing handmade paper for centuries. It is just 16 km from Jaipur on the Tonk road. The town is renowned for its craft, hand-printed textiles and above all for handmade paper industry. It is said that artists in Mughal Period were also using Sanganeri paper for painting. Besides this, one can discover remains of palaces and Jain temples exploring the cultural roots of Indian heritage in Sanganer.

As the place is situated on the bank of river Saraswati, there is abundance of clear water and open space, which is essential for papermaking. It is said that Emperor Babur encouraged the establishment of paper industry during 1520 in Alwar, Rajasthan. Then in 16th century, Raja Man Singh, the ruler of Amber, brought ‘Kagzis’ to Sanganer. 'Kagzis’ are the expert artisans of handmade industry. They can be discovered in the Kagazi Mohalla of Sanganer. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II bought about the idea of handmade paper industry, in Sanganer, in 1728. After that the town emerged out as one of the biggest papermaking center in northern India. The industry got a good encouragement after independence as KVIC (the Khadi and Village Industries Commission) included the paper for the promotion of crafts industry in Sanganer. As a result, there are about 10 handmade paper industries at present.

Making paper by hand is a long and laborious process. All kinds of waste paper and rags are collected and shredded, then soaked, strained and beaten repeatedly into a soft pulp that is left to ferment for eight days. After thoroughly washing the pulp, it is put into frames of wire or bamboo to form sheets. These sheets are then pressed and dyed and hung out to dry. To save labour and time, in recent years machines have been introduced for shredding and pulp- beating.

Although the papermaking is a manual process yet machines are used now a day. One can see big sheets of paper drying everywhere on the way at the riverbank and surrounding fields. Sanganer prints are one of its own kinds and well known all over the world. The Sanganer handmade paper has become very popular for writing pads, envelops, albums, greeting, wedding cards etc.

A large number of products are prepared from these papers such as carry bags, shopping bags, gift bags etc. Apart from this these are also used as cover, for preparation of decorative items etc. Now a day bags of handmade paper having stylish and elegant look are in much demand. For more safety and attractive purpose handmade bags with more eco-friendly material are being introduced.

Another specialty of Sanganer is hand block printing on locally made cotton cloth. The patterns are made in huge tints. Because of their excellent designs, they are in great demand in India and abroad. Therefore the material is exported not only in India but abroad also. The pattern in bright colors with white background is an outstanding work. Not only this but small floral pattern is the specialty of Sanganer block print.

These handmade papers are prepared with various beautiful pattern and designs to amplify their beauty as per the demand of people or business organization. People are having a great charm for this material, as it is not only attractive but eco-friendly also.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bird's Heaven

The Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a pilgrimage for bird’s lover, is a paradise for avian world. It is well known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and is a proud host of a variety of species of beautiful migratory birds. As many as 375 Indian and migratory birds are found in this bird’s heaven. The location of the park is considered as the ideal location as it lies on the main north-south avian route of India. Covering an area of about 30 sq. km, it lies between India’s two historic cities, Agra and Jaipur and is about 190 km from Delhi. About 11 km area of the park is covered with water, marshes and the rest of it is enriched with birds like kingfisher, red vented, bulbul, sunbirds, parakeets, sparrows etc.

Maharaja Suraj Mal, the ruler of Bharatpur, created it in the 18th century. In the British Empire, it was well known as the best duck shooting resort. Duck shooting used to be a common pastime during winter months for British viceroys, officials and princes. After that the hunting was banned and in 1956, it was declared a reserve for birds and later on upgraded to national park in 1982. Today it is famous as the most important breeding and feed grounds for birds all over the world. In 1985, UNESCO listed it as the World Heritage Site. It is the best place that domiciles a variety of birds and mammals.

The sanctuary not only attracts the birds from India but also from Europe, Siberia, China and Tibet. Hundreds of exotic birds perch before Monsoon and starts their nest building activities on the Babool and Kadam trees of the park. As the monsoon and the favorable conditions arrive, birds from various parts of the globe turn up to take shelter in the park. Daily arrival includes grey herons, painted and open-billed storks, Indian shags etc.

Siberian cranes are the most distinguished guests of the park. They are considered as the pride of the place. The water-fowls visit in millions during October. Ducks that have been spotted here are pintail, ruddy shelduck, common shelduck, gadwall, red crested pochard etc. To complete the avian foodchain, predatory birds like imperial eagle, steppe and tawny eagle, marsh harrier, lagger falcon also arrives here. Some predatory birds like short-toed eagle, lesser spotted eagle and shikra are the inhabitant of the park.

It is the home of various animals also as black bug, sambhar, spotted deers and nilgais. Pythons can be seen at some places relaxing in the sun. Other birds like white necked and black necked stork, spoonbills, night heron, various species of egret, darter, cormorant etc gets busy in courting and mating, when they get assured of sufficient food and favorable condition. At this time the trees gets over flooded with nests of the birds belonging to the different species. The whole place echoes with enchanting sounds in the season time and one can easily enjoy the fascinating views against the sprawling meadow of flora.

The temperature of national park during summer varies from 38°C to 45 °C while in winter it falls below 10°C. In monsoon the temperature is about 27°C.

Although the park remains busy all over the year with the activities of the birds but the best time to visit here is from the month of October to March. This park abounds many species of birds including some very rare species and also some endangered species. It’s really eye-catching to see a number of birds flying in flock. It is advisable for the visitors to maintain low noise level here and also to avoid trashing the park. Vehicles are permitted upto Shanti kutir and not inside the park.

The electra van, which has been facilitated by the forest department, can be engaged to visit the place or one can travel around the park on foot or bicycle through well-defined tracks. Cycle rickshaws are also available on hire. Rickshaw pullers are trained by the park management to give the descriptive knowledge of the site. The boat trip early in the morning or late evening is another cherishing experience of the park.