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The Land of Thousand Temples: Kanchipuram

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Kanchipuram also known as Kanchi or Kancheepuram, is counted among India’s seven holiest cities, collectively called “Sapta-puri”. It is believed that a pilgrimage to all of these destinations takes a person closer to salvation.

This city is not just popular for its myriad and imposing temple structures but also for the grand Kanchipuram silk sarees made here. Thus, tourists from different parts of the World are attracted by the architecture, culture, tranquillity and the lovely Kanchipuram silk which are all offered in one huge platter at this spectacular city.

Kanchipuram is one of the most ancient cities of Southern India and traces its history as an early Chola capital, Pallava capital, an important Vijayanagar town, etc. before it got conquered by the Muslim, Maratha, British and the French armies.

Throughout its history, Kanchipuram remained an important pilgrimage centre. Kailasanathar Temple is said to be the oldest temples in this city. The city flourished under the rule of Pallava and Vijayanagara dynasties during which many temples were built. Hence, many structures in these temples have a blend of Pallava and Vijayanagara styles of architecture.

The exquisite Kailasanathar Temple
Incredible carved panels in the Vaikunta Perumal Temple
Mandapa (hall) of the Varadaraja Perumal temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India.

The city is divided into two parts: Big Kanchi named as Shiva Kanchi with the most Shiva temples and Little Kanchi named as Vishnu Kanchi with a greater share of Vishnu temples.

No account of Kanchipuram will be complete without an adequate commentary on the silk products for which the city is most famous for. One of the finest and beautiful sarees in the world, the Kanjeevaram silks of Kanchipuram are a must-buy for every tourist. These sarees are hand-woven and have an excellent texture which has allured women for generations. The borders of some of the Kanjeevarams are made from pure gold and silver threads. Shopping here is not just about silk sarees, for you are provided with many options such as decorative items, fruit baskets, jewellery boxes and what not! It will be a great idea to even consider buying the perfect idols of your favourite Gods and Goddesses as a souvenir.

Full golden Kanchipuram saree

This place has just everything to replenish an art lover or a pilgrim. It offers a perfect and ironically strange concoction that can satiate you in every way.

Ram Janmabhoomi

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Ram Janmabhoomi (or Rama’s birthplace) is the name given to the site that is believed to be the birthplace of Rama. It was recently seen in news linked with the Ayodhya dispute.

According to the Ramayana, the location of Rama’s birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu river in the legendary city called ‘Ayodhya’. While a section of Hindus claim the exact birth site is where the Babri Masjid once stood in the present-day Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh), another section oppose the same. The former group also believe that the Mosque was constructed by demolishing a Hindu shrine that marked the spot. The political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque and whether a previous temple was demolished or modified to create it, is known as the Ayodhya dispute.

The history of this hypothetical location can be observed as being filled with Hindu-Muslim violence, triggered by the demolition of the Babri Masjid by Hindu nationalists in 1992, rapidly spreading the seeds of violence and agitation to several other parts of India. Several other sites in India, Afghanistan, and Nepal have been proposed as birthplaces of Rama.

Those who believe that Rama was a historic figure, place his birth before 1000 BCE. However, the archaeological excavations at Ayodhya have not revealed any settlement before that day. Hence, several other places have been suggested as the birthplace of Rama.

On 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the Hindu temple. On 5 February 2020, the trust known as Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra was created by the Govt. of India. This trust began the first phase of construction of the Ram Temple in March 2020. Carvings on sandstone, pillars and Shiv Ling were unearthed during the land levelling work at the site. Brick foundations which could have supported the pillars of a pre-existed temple were also found.

Cane Craft

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cane baskets

The cane is used for making common household accessories. The cane sticks are skillfully tied and bent together to make furniture, racks, swing, baskets etc. The varying thickness of cane is used for making the articles. Cane is the raw material from the rattan plant and it is tensile and durable. It is therefore considered to be ideal for both indoor and outdoor furniture. As it is quite versatile, it can be designed according to modern trends and styles to enhance both indoor and outdoor decor. Rattan gives one several option for crafting furniture, including on the color front. Featuring a spectrum of naturally available colors, you can either create sets with different colors or a single set with multiple colors, experimenting with patterns as you proceed.

Cane Craft in India

The state of Assam is a treasure trove of cane & bamboo natural resources, thanks to its abundant cane and bamboo forests. Spread across the length and breadth of Assam, the artisans have for long been involved in the manufacture of beautiful cane and bamboo products. Assam has over the years, seen considerable socio-economic growth and sustained development due to its dedicated, skilled artisans and its beautiful natural resources. Some of the most popular cane items from Assam include Cane Floor Mats, Bamboo Tea Trays, Bamboo Head Gears, Bamboo Sieve, Musical Instruments, Bamboo Baskets, Hukkas, etc.

The state of Kerala is a popular tourist destination. It has a rich tradition of manufacturing beautifully painted mats and checkered black and white square boxes made of bamboo. While these items serve as excellent gifts, they also energize the handicraft market of this region. Some of the most popular bamboo and cane items from Kerala include – Bamboo Boxes, Mats, etc.

Fine examples made of “Java” cane. Looks good for years and easy to keep clean.

Making Cane Furniture

The first step in the process of making Indian Bamboo furniture is heating of the bamboo/cane. Thereafter, it is molded into various shapes by hand, thus making the component parts. These components are attached together, using glue or screws, to create the frame. Then, the joints are wrapped with binding. Dying of the furniture follows soon after. Finally, a coat of lacquer is applied to it. Wicker furniture of India is also treated against parasites.

Making of cane furniture is achieved through several steps:
• Frame making with cane poles
• Polishing and
• Rounding with a thin processed cane.

In India, cane furniture is made by various groups of artisans/ craftspeople. Cane poles and thin processed cane from India are used in the production process.

cane craft

Initially, lengthy cane poles are cut as per the required size. The cane pole is then heated using kerosene lamp and it is bent according to the desired/required shape with the help of shaping tool which is made of wood. Different parts of furniture are bent separately and joined together with a readymade flat cane. The cane frame is sent for the binding process.

Cane is first soaked in water until it attains moisture and it is weaved around the frame with a thin processed cane. Different motif patterns are created while weaving. After completion of weaving, the end parts are joined with nails. Finally, the furniture is polished using natural polish. Three coats of polish are given to attain a fine glossy look of cane furniture.