At Paintcollar, we bring to you the best of Indian Art and Culture, fittingly featuring India’s hidden gems. The Surajkund International Crafts Mela, is one such jewel.
Only 35 kilometers away from Delhi, ‘Surajkund’ or ‘Lake of the Sun’ is an artificially constructed ‘Kund’ or reservoir built at the foothills of the Aravallis. The reservoir is said to have been built by Tomar of the sun worshipping dynasty of the Tomars. The ‘kund’ has a semicircular amphitheatre shaped embankment constructed around it and a ‘Sun Temple’ on its western bank.
Besides the many natural attractions at Surajkund (a wildlife sanctuary and a HOT SPRING!), Surajkund becomes a vibrant and magical place for the first fortnight of February every year during the time of the Surajkund Mela. For fifteen days in February every year, the country’s best painters, sculptors, weavers and talented artists flock to a dusty little town in Haryana and Surajkund is transformed into a breathtaking craftsman’s village- a paradise for artists and art-lovers alike.
The Surajkund International Crafts Mela, annually held in the backdrop of the magnificent Surajkund lake, is a two-week long celebration of Indian Folk traditions and culture. It is jointly hosted and organized by the Surajkund Mela Authority in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture, External Affairs, Department of Tourism, Government of Haryana and Haryana Tourism Corporation and is an affair to remember. Lights strung across trees, soft folk music playing in the background and beautiful art and crafts at display, the Surajkund Mela is an experience in itself. Whether you want to satiate the art connoisseur within you, pamper your taste buds or simply relax in all the colorful revelry, the Surajkund Mela offers it all – an all-inclusive vacation that will bring color to your life and joy to your heart.
The Mela ambience is designed to represent the ethos and the way of life of rural India.
When you enter the festival grounds, it’s like setting foot into a serene, rustic village, completely untouched by the troubles of the fast-paced city life. One of the reasons why the Mela was designed to be so, was to get the city-dweller in touch with the rural roots of her/his country.
The Mela was conceived and hosted for the first time in 1987, with a simple motive of promoting the pool of skilled artisans who used indigenous technology but were suffering because of the lack of an appropriate platform to showcase and sell their products and because they couldn’t compete with cheaper, mass-produced knock-offs of original crafts.
But over the years, the Mela has come to play an important role in helping these indigenous artists in tapping the export market as well. Other than the art and culture events at the event, meetings and seminars concerning export and trade for the local craftsmen are held as well.
The Mela showcases artworks and crafts from textiles, paintings, wood stock, ivory work, pottery, terracotta, stonework, lacquer ware, to cane and grass products; and so many art forms that we’ve not even heard of before!
In 2015, more than 200 artists presented their art and wares at the mela, ranging from Kalamkari, Batik, Leatherwork, Jamdani Sarees, Wood carvings, Soharai Painting, Lacquer work, Bamboo work, tribal jewelry and clothing, Mithila painting, Sikki, Paper Mache, Teracotta and Iron Crafts, Patola and Tie Dye Fabrics, Mazari Jutti, Metal Embossing, Thewa Art, Patta Chitra and the list goes on.
The Surajkund Mela is not merely a platform for craftsmen and artists, but is also a mediator between artists and patrons and art collectors.
Every year, since it was first hosted, the Mela is held with the theme of any Indian State and it is a tradition that the gate to the Mela is based on this theme. The Mela is decorated and designed keeping in mind the particular heritage of the theme state, as well as the partner country, thus making the Mela a spectacularly different experience every single year. The 29th Surajkund Crafts Mela, was held in January this year with Chhattisgarh as its theme state.
In 2009, for the 23rd Surajkund Crafts Mela, Egypt became the nation in Focus and thus, the idea was rooted to make a foreign nation a partner nation in the Mela every year. Since then, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Lebanon and a group of African Nations have participated in the festival.
In 2013, the Festival experienced a global makeover and was rechristened the “28th Surajkund International Crafts Mela’. In 2014, over 15 countries from European & African continents participated in the Mela including SAARC nations. These participating nations bring along their skilled craftsmen, cultural troupes and master chefs, who present their talents and skills through stalls and performances at the Mela.
Over the years, the Mela has gotten a new, international avatar, while still retaining its homely feeling and warmth.
Every single year the Surajkund Mela captures hearts and as a result, visitors to the Mela are increasing in number, thus providing the handicraft industry with a much required boost.
Artists from the remotest corners of the country congregate at Surajkund, not just to sell their wares but to also exchange ideas. The Surajkund Mela has almost become the Kumbh Mela or the Mecca of the Indian Artist and Craftsman.
Over the years, the Surajkund Mela has become a unique festival celebrates India’s cultural and moreover, artistic diversity and it is a festival you definitely do not want to miss !
This festival, so dedicatedly designed and organized by the authorities every year, is gradually succeeding in preserving myriad Indian art and craft forms and Paintcollar salutes this beautiful movement that celebrates art.
Why should you visit ?
• Local, National and International artistes perform at the ‘Chaupal’ all day long, so if you’re too tired from the shopping and window shopping and literally dying of the beauty of the Mela, you can sit down and soak in all the culture and diversity in the atmosphere around you.
• The Surajkund Mela, is also a foodie’s seventh heaven. The food court housed in the ‘Haveli’ is a vibrant place where cuisines from the across the Indian expanse are served. Students from Hotel Management Institutes from neighboring Panipat and Faridabad also set up small kiosks selling snacks and different yummies.
• Most of all, college and school students get a 50 % off on their tickets on weekdays, provided that you can produce a valid institutional photo-ID!
• Getting tickets is also really simple. The Surajkund Mela has partnered up with Snapdeal and Bookmyshow for the sale of etickets and you can also buy tickets physically from 20 select Delhi Metro Stations.
• The Mela also has its own iOS and Android friendly mobile application ‘Surajkund Mela’, which makes getting information and details of event schedules of the Mela, really easy.
How to get there ?
• The Surajkund Crafts Mela is held at the charming tourist complex of Haryana Tourism at Surajkund. The complex is very close to Delhi and can be reached easily by train and by road. The nearest railway junction is at Delhi and from there on, the Delhi Metro can take you up till Faridabad or Gurgaon and then a tourist coach/ cab can take you up to Surajkund in only half an hour.
• If you’re planning on travelling by air, the nearest Airport is at Delhi and then the drive upto Surajkund takes only 30-40 minutes.
• Also, during the Mela period, specially organized buses link the main shopping centers and interstate bus stands of Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad to the Mela grounds.