In earlier days, when the city was ruled by famous kings, Delhi was the best in the country, in terms of promoting art and craft. The kings had a unique taste for promoting talent from these industries as they represented the rich history and tradition of the place. Music and dance performers and painters were taken good care of, by these kings. Even today, Delhi holds a special place for art and craft, as it respects its culture a lot. Every year, the period between October and March is dedicated towards the promotion of art and craft culture in Delhi. Many performances are conducted during this time to enthral the audience.
During this time, almost all halls and auditoriums are full as people book their seats in advance for witnessing these high quality performances. Apart from music and dance shows, people also come in large numbers to the prestigious NSD (National School of Drama), where artists perform plays (translated from Europe). Every year, there is an impressive list of folk shows lined up for the event. If you have an eye for paintings and portraits, you can visit some of the art galleries in Delhi, where amazing works of professional and novice artists are displayed.
The city has also been promoting crafts to a great extent just like arts. Some of the exclusive works like enamelling using gold and silver, embroidery work in gold threads (zari), miniatures, marble carvings etc. have been in vogue by the craftsmen of Delhi for many centuries now. Kite making, wooden toy making, pottery etc. are some of the other crafts that were practiced by Delhi craftsmen during the monarchical rule. Even today, if you visit DilliHaat or Crafts museum (Pragati Maidan), you will get to see a rich display of handicrafts.
Delhi Arts & Crafts
Though Delhi was and still continues to be the cultural hub of India, not many people know about the rich history of Delhi – this includes the people of Delhi also. People from across the globe come to Delhi to showcase their arts and crafts and to get a glimpse of the rich collection of items here. However, it is such a shame that its own residents do not recognize this fact. This is true to the proverb - “Ghar Ki Murghi Dal barabar”, which means, people do not value or appreciate their own things.
During 1648, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built Shahjahanabad, a city that was entirely covered with walls. Today, though the walls are long-gone, there are still glimpses of the rich history of the place. A couple of years later, Chandni Chowk, the famous market was set up in close vicinity to Red Fort.
Though there are formal evidences that art and craft was promoted in Delhi only during the 16th century, Delhi witnessed a rich culture of this sort even during the 14th century, under the rule of Mohammed bin Tughlaq. Stories say that he had hired close to 500 talented weavers in his court to weave silk saris and gold brocades for the royal women and to be given away as royal gifts.
These evidences are enough proofs to show that Delhi did have a unique art and craft culture of its own and was not just the combination of other cultures.
Portraying A Heart of Exquisite Art
Many museums and workshops were held in Delhi to promote art and craft and to make the international and Indian art connoisseurs go wow. These workshops helped a great to increase knowledge about art and craft to the general citizens. The Delhi Art Gallery, which was set up during 1993, is a perfect example of this. Works of novice and upcoming artists were exhibited here and even today, this gallery has an enviable collection of 20th century art and works done by artists from different parts of the country. This collection focuses on modern and contemporary art. Some of the artists whose works were exhibited in this gallery are Nikhil Biswas, Redeppa Naidu, Gopal Ghose, Rabin Mondal, Devyani Krishna, Himmat Krishna, LaxmanPai, Prakash Karmakar, Ambadas and many more. Here you can not only get introduced to some of the great pieces of art, but also buy some pieces to be gifted to your loved ones. Pragati Maidan’s Aditi Pavillion hosts a Crafts Museum, where you can be treated to some awesome pieces of metal and crafts works done by rural craftsmen with ultimate precision. These pieces are crafted with such precision that you cannot help but marvel at the extreme talent of these craftsmen and rural artisans.
Architecture That Says Wow!
The other exciting part of Delhi is its architecture. This is a place where many ancient Mughal style and British style monuments co-exist in perfect harmony with each other. Mosques, madrasas, forts, temples and many more speak volumes about the architectural brilliance and exquisite taste of the rulers of those days. Nagara style, Gothic style and many other patterns of architecture are found in these buildings and a look around Delhi, especially Old Delhi, is more than enough to understand about the rich history of the place. The Red Fort, that is crowded always, due to the presence of the famous market of Chandni Chowk in its vicinity, is a brilliant piece made of red sandstone and marble that tells you stories about the rich history of Delhi, even today. If Old Delhi is dominated by Mughal architecture, Central Delhi is dominated by Colonial or British style or architecture. Akshardham temple, dedicated to Lord Swaminarayana, is a new structure and is sure to take your breath away. Built by 11000 people in just half a decade, this massive temple is the best example in Delhi today, of the stupendous culture of temple architecture in India.
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