Kozhikode: Near Vadakara in Kozhikode is the picturesque village of Iringal. The lanes of Iringal may echo a thousand tales but the story of 'Sargaalaya' art and crafts village is distinct. The village is a melting pot of artistry and fine craftsmanship.
The finest artisans, traditional and trained, from across the nation are put up at the village as part of Sargaalaya's mission to revive, create, and propagate handicraft.
Take a walk and experience the 60 ethnic stalls spread on 20 acres of land adjacent the Moorad river. The stalls are a visual treat and will ignite your creativity. You name it and it is all here - jewelry; pottery; handwoven textiles; terracotta art, wood and metal engravings; glass painting; metal embossing; and coir, jute and coconut shell craft.
The high point of the visit should be the time one spends with the craftsmen, watching deft hands create art from raw materials. Over time and under proper guidance and skill-based training, these craftsmen have attained a fine degree of perfection.
Ayyappan, the master weaver of Kora grass mats
A small stall, midway through Sagarlaaya, is equipped with a conventional loom. Beside the loom are brightly colored mats woven of Kora grass(maanjipullu). The man behind these intricately colored mats is K. Ayyappan, 75. A master in the trade, Ayyappan beats his age by effectively engaging in the dying and weaving process.
A Kora grass mats costs between Rs 800 and 3,000. The rate depends on the size of the mat and the complexity of the design. A very energetic Ayyappan says, "All the colors you see on these mats are natural. For instance, the green color is made from betel leaf dye, the pink from sappanwood (Pathimugam) and so on." The Kora grass can cure you of back pain, he claims.
Of coconut shells, coir, grain jewels and red-lucky seeds
At a time when fashionistas predict and re-predict trends and style statements for one and all, the hunt for exquisite jewelry pieces is on as ever. And it is to satisfy those hearts in search of that solid piece of jewelry that a team of craftsmen are at work here.
The variety here is just amazing. From light, yet strong chains made of coir rings to beautiful necklaces of grain, we bet you can't escape picking one from here. “The seemingly delicate coir ring chains are made by fine-rolling coir on discarded pen refills, says Subisha K.K.
Several pieces of earrings are waiting to dangle from your ears, all perfect and embedded with beautiful metallic designs. Red lucky-seed ornaments adorn a wall, set and sorted in various styles. For those who wish to spot a natural black sheen to the statement chokers, there are beautiful ones made from a shrub called sappindus (soappukaaya).
Beating all odds, Arun the master of terracotta
This is a world of unique craftsmanship and dedication. A differently abled Arun, aurally challenged, is the artist.
Arun is now doing a big crustacean (prawn). The specialty is that the structure is being devoid of any internal support. Arun's works will feature in the upcoming terracotta art museum at Iringal.
Marvels in metal
Engraving and embossing are works which demand time and perseverance. The things on display at the stall of Vasudevan Chethi is testimony to this. An adept artist, he creates decorative paintings using metal engraving.
One can watch him work live at his stall, and even try doing one for yourself. The paintings, mostly of Hindu mythological figures, are solely the magic of his fingers. Adjacent to the wonders in metal, you can also spot a potter's wheel that creates perfect earthen pots.
If you are a true lover of art and if handicrafts are your pick, Sargaalaya is your one-stop destination. The Crafts Design and Technology Development Center trains craftsmen in the latest production technologies and invites innovative traditional craft forms. Tourists can also enjoy traditional classical and folk art forms at the center.
The visit to Sargaalaya also packs a boat ride in the Moorad river. There is a calm park to breathe in the place. The ticket fare for adults is Rs 30 and for children, Rs 20. Monday is a holiday for the units. Sargaalaya is an initiative of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala. It is managed by the Uralungal Labor Contract Cooperative Society Ltd.
How to reach Iringal crafts village, Sargaalaya
Nearest railway station : Iringal(1.5 km)
Nearest airport: Calicut international airport, 23 km from Kozhikode town