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Coastal crafts


KERALA BRINGS to mind a picturesque scene of tall trees swaying to a cool breeze, pretty beaches, plenty of sand, and shells — all in soothing natural colours. That is exactly what comes to your mind as you walk into Kairali, a store that sells handicrafts from Kerala. Kairali is the sales outlet of the Handicrafts Development Corporation of Kerala. Situated on M.G. Road, the store was started in 1985. Walk in to get a peek at the vast culture, tradition, and the crafts of Kerala. "The business is better here compared to Kerala as we get plenty of travellers," explains K.C. Sudarshan, the manager.

Kairali simply transports you into a different world with a wide range of handmade crafts in natural material such as bamboo, palm leaf, and pine. They are displayed in such a way that they give you ideas to decorate your own home in an artistic way.

There are lamps of varying designs. You can choose your pick between oil lamps that measure just an inch to those that are over five feet in height (priced between Rs. 70 and Rs. 23,000).

Traditional bell metal vessels (urulis), that can be used to decorate any dull corner with fragrant flowers floating in rose water, are also available here.

A mirror is a must-have to pamper. And Kairali seems to pamper even the mirrors with exquisite carvings and designs. There are the Aranmula metal mirrors made from an "unusual combination of metals" that are burnished by hand. "These are based on traditional designs used in royal palaces. The aim is to revive this dying craft," says M. Anwar, who takes you around the store. There are Nettoor boxes carved out of rose wood and trimmed with metal. These come in varying sizes and also make an ideal gift for brides to store their jewellery in. They are priced at Rs. 2,500 upwards.



Crafts that look elegant in any home.

The other traditional offering from Kairali is the ashtamangalya set (Rs. 1,870) in bell metal. It is a small set that has eight mini versions of puja articles used by most South Indian women. There are paras (traditional paddy measures), also considered as a good omen if placed inside the house. They also double as interesting corner pieces.

You can opt for the beautiful Kathakali masks in papier mache and rosewood, traditional paintings in bright colours on palm leaf mats, and handmade window screens. These come in varying sizes. Carved wooden lock chains that can be hung from the ceiling are also available. You can pick up a Malabar uru (traditional boats), caparisoned elephant, snake boats, and carved images of Indian deities in varying heights. These are priced at Rs. 500 upwards. There is also the traditional Kerala sari (Rs. 500 upwards), the set mundus (Rs. 500 upwards), and the dress materials.

Brass creations from Bidar, semi-precious stone jewellery and miniature paintings from Rajasthan, and bed sheets and spreads from Haryana also find a place here to "cater to foreign customers". Kairali offers a special discount during festival time and also often organises a Kerala Crafts Fair in the City. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., and 2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m.. Kairali is closed on Sundays and on government holidays. It can be contacted on 5325511/5584082.

SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.

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