Kutch; Day 3 – Bhujodi; Shop till you Drop

February 5, 2015

After a sumptuous thali and a few glasses of soothing buttermilk, we were on our way to Bhujodi. Bhujodi is the perfect place to indulge in some textile tourism. Can you think of a better way to escape from the tyranny of the afternoon sun?

I wonder if bhujiya was invented in Bhuj. Maybe, maybe not, but on the way to Bhujodi we learnt that Bhuj does gets its name from bhujiya, another sort of bhujiya. It gets its name from the Bhujia Fort, which was constructed by the Jadeja Chief, Rao Godaji, for the defence of the city. The fort itself gets its name from Bhujia hill on which it was built, overlooking the city. Since Indian independence, the fort has been under the jurisdiction of the Indian Army. Entry is strictly prohibited to civilians expect on the festival on Nag Panchami, when a fair is held at the temple of *Bhujang Nag.

The market of Bhujodi is more of a street. This lane is a wonderful place to do your gift shopping. Traditional embroidery and designs find expression on a variety of garments like sarees, dress materials, shawls, kurtas, etc. As seen in the museum there are several styles of Kutchi embroidery, but in general bright colours, geometric patterns and mirrorwork are the trademarks. National Award winning artisans have shops in this market. We did all our shopping at Sharda . They have a couple of shops on the street and a very reasonable. They don’t bargain, but they will do teeny-weeny discounts and throw in a few freebies if you ask nicely.

A few kilometres away, a Dilli Haat type enclosed craft park is being set up to preserve and promote regional arts and crafts. Lush green lawns, a small water body with a little bridge across it and big white ducks create a charming setting for this bazaar. The shops built to look like traditional housing or bungaas give the shopper the illusion of having stepped into the artisan or craftsman’s home to buy his/her creations. While Bhujodi showcases the textiles and splendid needlework of Kutch, this **haat goes beyond that. Carpenters, metal workers, masons and painters rub shoulders with each other and others here. Kutchi mirrorwork, used to decorate village homes is sold here a decorative wall pieces for modern homes. Traditionally this would be done on camel dung base, but the pieces sold commercially are done on mud or plaster. Another shop was selling copper bells. The local clientele for these bells are the pastoral communities who use them to herd their cattle and sheep. In the past, (and may be even today) when cattle died, the raw hide was converted to leather. Kutchi leather used to be so well treated and durable that it could hold water. It is rumoured that artisans once used real silver thread to bind pieces of leather together. There shops in this complex selling leather bags and slip-on footwear that may not be of the same quality or have the same cultural value, but will make any woman’s heart skip a beat. The bazaar was partially occupied when we went. The price of textiles was higher here than in Bhujodi, so if it is textiles you are looking for, you might be better off shopping there.

*Bhujang Nag – Folklore has it that he is the brother of Sheshnag. He came from Than in Kathiawar  to free Kutch from the clutches of demons

**haat – marketplace

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