When I embarked on my maiden visit to the Surajkund International Crafts Fair, held every year during the spring season from February 1-15, little did I know that I would come back home with my hands full of “steal deals”, an aching heart that longed to see more and a pair of fatigued legs that underestimated the sheer magnificence, expanse and grandness of India's one of the most popular fests.
Organized every year in Surajkund, Haryana, near Delhi, by Haryana Tourism Department to promote handicrafts items, this year the local-turned-global mela just got bigger and better. The cultural festival offers a podium to celebrated artisans from India and across the world to showcase their expertise, be it textiles, artefacts, traditional handicrafts or cuisine. But what really enhanced the charm of this place was its vibe and ambience, played up well by vibrant paper flower motifs, Dhokra art from Chhattisgarh, bejeweled camels, bedecked folk dancers and of course, the tremendous talent pool.
On display was something for everyone. Melamine crockery selling by the kilos, wall mounted shoe racks, weather-proof garden furniture, Korean quilts and vials of suspicious looking potions were just some of the unexciting products that greeted us first. But as we entered the cavernous fest, a riot of colours began to explode before our eyes. There were reams and endless reams of diaphanous Indian textiles along with handmade wooden toys, paper and leather craft, glass wall accents, massive timber art, contemporary pottery and terracotta, warm knits and booties, Punjabi mojris and many more wow-worthy bits and baubles that enthralled and overwhelmed us.
Interestingly, this year 18 countries are participating in this grand fest. Many world-acclaimed artists from countries like Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Thailand, Syria and more were seen exhibiting their skills. Definitely a good move to attract tourists and cater to all kinds of tastes.
Chhattisgarh is the theme state of the 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela
The food court
The visitors were spoilt for choice as specialty cuisines from different Indian states were on offer. People were also seen thronging the all-you-can-eat buffet @ INR 200 only. We were quite impressed by the slick clean tables that were neatly covered with industrial sized aluminum foil and great service by the helpers who promptly whisked away used plates. Since Lebanon is the partner nation for the Surajkund International Crafts Fair this year, a team of Lebanese master chefs is specially flown in to whip up delectable delights. We were quick to sample their food and glad we did. The winning bites from Beirut were Falafel (crispy fried vegetarian patties served in bread with salad and spread) and Fatteh (Pita with chickpeas and yogurt). At Rs 150 a plate, this food was wholesome, fresh and very palatable.
Clearly, Pushkar's cousin now has a personality of its own that is drawing thousands of spectators every year. Here are a few more pictures from the mela. And yes, if your heart beats for all things Indian, we recommend you take out time to soak up some winter sun in this fun place.
|Strolley bags to stash your bargains|
|The quintessential setting|
|A really giant wheel built on the lines of the London Eye|
|My pretty Punjabi mojris with tassel detail|
|I got myself some flowers from the Thailand stall|
Entry fee: Rs 70 per person
Timings: 9:30 am to 7:00pm, everyday from February 1-15, 2015