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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Indian Street Food: A Legacy

Indian cuisine is known around the world for its diversity, and it’s Indian street food which is an integral part of the Indian culture.



Indian street Food, street food

Mix cultural diversity with a long history of cultural influences from all over the world and you get Indian street food. Diverse and iconic because of their perfect blend of spices and aroma, they not only tantalise your tastebuds but unite us all together. Cheap and abundantly available they are the true stars of Indian cuisine and are consumed by millions of Indians on a regular basis. Let’s find out more about these mouthwatering Indian street food items that have stolen the hearts of millions worldwide.

Indian Street Food: History

Street food culture has been around in India since ancient times. The earliest mention of Indian street food items can be traced back to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Street vendors were known for selling various food items like roasted grains and nuts, various types of bread etc to travellers and locals. As markets and busy streets served as the social hub for most people during those times, many street vendors used to set up their stalls right there. 

Starting off with just a handful of food items which were offered as part of Indian street food, the intermingling of various cultures in India led to a more diverse food palate. One change in street food came with regional variations. Street food in the northern part has more gravy and is richer and creamier like Chole Puri, Chaat, etc., while the food in the southern part has plenty of vegetarian options like Idlis, Dosa, etc. Street food in the western part has a very bold and spicy taste like Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, etc. while the one available in the east is characterised by its savoury and sweet flavours like Jhal Muri, Churmur, etc.

Given India’s past history of colonisation and many other foreign rulers’ rule, it is a no-brainer that Indian cuisine has been widely impacted by Persian, Mughal, Portuguese, and British cuisine. The Indian street food scene was also not saved from these influences. From kebabs to our beloved chai, many of these now-renowned Indian street food items were heavily influenced by other cultures. Trade and migrations played a major role in diversifying the Indian street food cuisine and making it what we know today.

Although the Indian street food scene is pretty diverse let’s take a look at some of the most popular street food items that will surely leave your mouth watering:

  1. Pani Puri: 

The quintessential Indian street food item, Pani Puri or Gol Gappa is the perfect street food item to indulge in when you want to be blown away but not far from home. It consists of small bite-sized puris filled with a spiced potato and chickpeas filling (you can adjust the heat of the filling according to your tastebuds and mood for that day), which are then dipped in a tangy mint or tamarind-infused water and served. And always remember, you must finish it in one bite! Its texture and flavours are best appreciated when eaten in one bite!  

  1. Chaat:

Literally translating to “lick” in English, Chaat is a popular Indian street food item that will leave you licking the last bits off your plate, because it’s a sin to leave even a morsel behind! Just kidding, but we are sure once you take a bite of the chat there’s no way you’re returning the plate back without making it shine anew. There are several types of chaat but the most popular ones are; Papdi Chaat which consists of crisp flour crisps topped with yoghurt, chutneys, and spices; and Aloo Tikki Chaat, potato patties served with chutneys and curd. The tangy and bold flavours of Chaat highlight the true taste of Indian street food.   

  1. Vada Pav:

The ride or die of every Mumbai resident, Vada Pav is the Indian version of a burger. Consisting of a soft bun (Pav) that is stuffed with a spicy potato fritter (Vada) and served with a little bit of tangy chutney, this street food item is the spirit of Mumbai. Over the years it has become an iconic symbol of the Indian city of dreams.

  1. Dosa:

A south Indian delight consisting of a thin crispy pancake made with fermented rice, Dosa is the pride and joy of southern India. The regional variations of Dosa that are available throughout southern India highlight the versatility of this single dish. It is served with a variety of chutneys and Sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew). And is a must-eat when you’re stomach tells you it’s so hungry that it can eat a horse, but your brain knows that’s far from reality. 

  1. Khaman Dhokla:

The pride of Gujarat and the joy of India, Khaman Dhokla is a soft and fluffy steamed street food that is bound to make you fall head over heels for it. A simple dish made up of gram flour and leavening agents and served with tangy chutneys, this dish is perfect for anyone looking for something light yet filling enough to make you feel full for a couple of hours.

  1. Dahi Bara Aloo Dum:

The summertime saviour in Odisha, Dahi Bara Aloo Dum is a simple dish that hits the sore summer spot of every Odia. It consists of two items Dahi Bara (legume-based, doughnut-shaped savoury fritters called Vada which are dipped in yoghurt) and Aloo Dum (a spicy potato semi-gravy curry) and served with freshly chopped onions, coriander and sev. During the hot summer, the cool yoghurt of the Dahi Bara acts like a cooling balm that soothes the soul. A perfect mix of spicy, savoury and sweet it is the pride and delight of every Odia.   

Indian Street Food: Significance

Going beyond tastebuds and indulgence, Indian street food items are iconic because of their social equalising ability. From the insanely rich to the dirt poor, Indian street food items are for everybody. It allows people hailing from various religious, caste and financial backgrounds to truly bond. It’s high availability and cheap pricing makes it an excellent option for those on a budget. While it’s irresistible makes it a hit even among the richest socialites. 

Apart from bringing the people of India together, its huge popularity ensures steady employment for many unemployed masses in the nation. Enriching the tastebuds of passersby while also ensuring a good flow of income, the popularity of Indian street food helps reduce the growing problem of unemployment in India.


Food is one thing that is strong enough to bind the entire world together. India with its huge cultural diversity is held together by Indians’ shared love for food, especially Indian street food. Its lip-smacking flavours and bewitching aroma will make everyone nod their heads in agreement over the supremacy of Indian spices and culinary skills. Reflecting India’s culinary heritage and regional diversity, Indian street food offers a beautiful blend of historical influences, regional flavours and cultural traditions. From the mouthwatering Pani Puri to the aromatic Dosa, each street food item represents a slice of India’s cultural fabric. These dishes not only tantalize taste buds but also foster a sense of community and pride among Indians and continue to captivate food enthusiasts worldwide.  


Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Exploring Medieval Indian Temples and Their Reflection on Society

Medieval Indian Temples were developed as the reflection of the contemporary society. Let’s explore their architecture and cultural impact.



Medieval Indian Temples

Medieval India holds a special place in Indian cultural history due to the extensive impact it had on society. This included architecture, literature, music, social engagements, etc. As for architecture, temples across the Indian subcontinent saw a massive change due to Bhakti. Initial simple rock-cut cave shrines gave way to vast, elaborate temples that spanned the Indian subcontinent and beyond as Hindu architecture developed over the ages. This design is now followed in contemporary Hindu temples all over the world. 

When we look at the detailed intricate carvings and magnificent sculptures that adorn the medieval temples of India, a colourful tapestry of society unfolds before our eyes. These temples are visual storytellers that have captured the essence of the society that birthed them. Indian Temple Sculptures intertwine art, history and culture, calling us to delve deeper into their symbolic language.  Let’s explore the impact medieval temples had on society and culture in India.

Indian Temple Structures

The Emergence of Indian Temple Sculptures

For us to truly understand and appreciate the societal reflections in Temple Sculptures, we have to first understand their historical evolution. The Gupta period which lasted from the 4th – 6th century CE marked the beginning of temple sculptures in India. During this time, spiritual devotion and artistic mastery came together, resulting in sculptures that radiate grace and divinity. Depictions of deities and celestial beings were the prime focus of the art of this time, which highlighted the religious and spiritual inclination of the Gupta society.

One can find such sculptures in the Dasavatara temple at Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh. It is the first North Indian temple to have a shikhara, though now part of it has disappeared and curtailed. Originally, people stated that the shikhara was around 40 feet. The temple depicts the ten avatars of Vishnu.

Medieval Indian Temples, Culture, Architecture, Medieval, Indian
Dasavatara temple at Deogarh (Credits:

Transitional Phase

Spanning from the 6th to the 8th century, Indian Temple Sculptures witnessed a mix of fusion of local and foreign influences. The Pallavas and Chalukyas have marked their legacy not just through their glorious reign but also through their extraordinary art and architecture. The Pallavas, currently a part of Tamil Nadu, are considered the pioneers of Southern Indian Architecture, as they gave us the single rock temples in Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram. The Chalukyas gave us the “Chalukyan Architecture ” or “Karnataka Dravida Architecture ”, in the form of the rock-cut temples of Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Medieval Indian Temples, Culture, Architecture, Indian
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India (Credits:

Their sculptures blended local elements with foreign influences which resulted in a unique visual language. They often were expressions of royal patronage and regional pride that showed the interconnectedness of art and power.

Such a stunning visual of that era can be found in Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu. The Chariot or Ratha Style temples there are a UNESCO site and are one of the oldest monolithic rock-cut structures. The Pallava kings constructed 5 of these marvels, each cut from a single stone. One of them is “Arjuna’s Penance” or “Decent of the Ganges” which is at a height of 96 feet and 43 feet long.

Medieval Indian Temples, Culture, Indian, Architecture
Arjuna’s Penance / Decent of the Ganges (Credits: Wikipedia)

Mature Phase

During the reigns of the Cholas and the Hoysalas, from the 9th to the 13th century CE, the mature phase of the Indian Temple Sculptures unfolded. The Chola temple sculptures distinguish themselves through their grandeur and intricacy, presenting a rich canvas of mythological stories and religious symbolism. They were also the ones to pioneer the art of bronze sculptures, whose narrative style captured the viewers’ imagination. The Hoysala introduced distinctive decoration and intricate detailing in their sculptures which highlighted their artistic finesse.

One can witness a marvel created during this time at Modhera, Gujrat. The Sun Temple there, dating back to the early 11th century, was constructed by Raja Bhimdev I of the Solanki Dynasty. The massive rectangular stepped tank called the “Surya Kund” in front of this temple is the captivating aspect, where each year, at the time of the equinoxes, the sun shines directly into the “Surya Kund.”

Medieval Indian Temples, Culture, Indian, Architecture
Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujrat (Credits:

Emergence of Bhakti and its Effects on Medieval Indian Temples

As the Bhakti movement had a great impact on Indian society, it also affected their ways of worship. People had replaced traditional and old Vedic gods with popular deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Brahma and Devi. People made temples dedicated to each deity. These temples included various sculptures influenced by mythological happenings and adventures of their time. There were also specific places for activities such as devadasis dancing, performing various rituals and bathing. 

The temples were considered the home of a particular god, and therefore, its maintenance held utmost importance. For this, priests looked after temples, ensuring their condition. The maintenance of temples was ensured by land offerings and contributions from the ruling elite because, as many temple inscriptions indicate, they were the centerpiece of a community.

History of The Architecture of Medieval Indian Temples 

Indian temples saw a significant aesthetic and structural transformation during the medieval period, combining innovative architectural styles with symbolic religious symbols. This change is a direct result of early Buddhist buildings like stupas, which had a profound influence on the evolution of Hindu temples. In the Indian subcontinent, temples were originally carved out of ancient caves. 

However, the introduction of Gupta architecture in the 4th or 5th century CE was the turning point. It was around this time that the first Hindu temples to stand alone developed. The Dashavatara temple in Deogarh, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a notable example of this era. Cave temples were important architectural and religious marvels during the Middle Ages. One such example is the Udaigiri cave temple in Malwa, which dates to the fifth century CE. 

Medieval Indian Temples, Culture, Indian, Architecture
Udaigiri Cave Temple in Malwa (Credits: Wikipedia)

The temples were built around the garbhagriha, also known as the womb-chamber. This closed chamber, with no windows, held an emblem or picture of a particular god. The garbhagriha was thought by devotees to exude a strong energy that had an all-encompassing effect on the surrounding architectural features. The architecture of the temple often featured blind entrances on three sides to represent this flow of divine energy, letting the deity’s power expand symbolically.

The garbhagriha was the main element of the early temples. But by the 10th century CE, new architectural features like the sikhara, mandapa, and ardhamandapa had been added. The temples were changed and given a more intricate structure by these modifications. Many temples look like silhouettes of mountains from a distance, especially when seen from above because of their many towers. Notable examples of these temple constructions are the 11th-century Kandariya Mahadeva temple in Khajuraho and the 12th-century Rajarani temple in Bhubaneswar.

Temple architecture evolved regionally, as seen by the various features of temples in Orissa, Kashmir, and Bengal. Nevertheless, people widely acknowledge the Nagara and Dravida architectural styles as the two main architectural forms.

What Do Medieval Indian Temples Depict?

Depiction of Society in Temple Sculptures

Temple sculptures give us a visual representation of the socio-political hierarchies in medieval Indian Society.Royalties wear regal attire and strike sophisticated poses that symbolize their authority. The courtiers and nobility assume poses that demonstrate their homage or assistance to the royalties.

The clothes worn by them further depict the hierarchies. The ruling class adorned themselves with elaborate clothing and heavily detailed jewelry that set them apart from the rest of society. With close examination of these sculptures, we gain insights into the divisions of power, privilege, and status that shaped medieval Indian society. We get a visual understanding of social fabrics and hierarchies that were present at that time.

Representation of Daily Life

Temple sculptures give us a look into the routine and occupations of people during medieval India. Artisans, farmers, traders, and other members of society actively engage in their roles and responsibilities to the community. These sculptures capture not only the aspects of daily life but also the essence of the norms, gender roles, and cultural practices. From depictions of agricultural labour to busy bazaars, the sculptures bring to life the everyday existence of medieval India.

Religious and Mythological Narratives

Temple sculptures are storytellers, presenting religious and mythological stories in a physical form. They depict gods, goddesses, and epic tales from Hindu mythology, giving us a visual representation of the cultural and spiritual traditions of medieval India. Sculpture panels show us the stories of creation, the war between gods and demons, and the victory of good over evil. These stories convey morals, ethics, and philosophical aspects, providing us with lessons and inspiring devotion. These sculptures are not only objects of worship but also powerful conduits for spiritual enlightenment and cultural preservation.

Social and Political Commentary in Sculptural Narratives

Going beyond just religious and mythological stories, Temple sculptures give us a glimpse of social and political commentary. They tell us stories from historical events, legends, and power dynamics. Sculptures show us war, conquests, and political alliances, showing us the bravery of warriors and the ambitions of rulers. They show us the patronage of art by kings, spotlighting their authority and cultural influences. In addition, these sculptures highlight religious and cultural practices such as pilgrimage sites, rituals, and ceremonies. Sculptures further illustrate the diversity of regional customs and distinct traditions and rituals.

Impact of Medieval Indian Temples on Society 

In earlier times, temples were more than simply a place of worship. Education was fundamentally religious, and temples had the primary role in it. People went to temples to learn religious and moral teachings about society and life. They also learnt dance, music, other fine arts and social behaviors at temples. As these temples were central to society’s functioning and sheltered students and scholars, they also acted as a place for the needy. These temples had enormous wealth and it was used to help the society’s betterment in all aspects. As times changed, temples also started garnering medical facilities to help the sick. It also acted as a court of law as people started discussing concerns and conflicts in this central space. 

Eventually, a feudal system became attached to the temples. People began to consider temples the home of their particular deity and started giving their financial offerings and other resources to God instead of the priest. The king of the particular area claimed these offerings, and even the society considered him entitled to this. While Brahmans had their exclusive advantages, they did not appreciate this shift and held deep opposition against this system. However, due to the pressure of kings and local people, the system prevailed. 


As we end our journey through the corridors of time, we must appreciate and preserve these cultural treasures. Medieval Indian temples witnessed a considerable architectural shift, becoming hubs for social services, education and culture. As a reflection of shifting social and religious forces, they were crucial in forming Indian society and culture. Temples developed from simple rock-cut caves to elaborate buildings. Their impact went beyond religious practices to include the arts, education, social services and even the legal system. This historical heritage, which still has an impact on modern India, exemplifies the complex interplay of medieval culture, architecture and religion.

The legacy of medieval Indian Temple sculptures continues to inspire and captivate. When we delve into their beauty and deep symbolism, we create a deeper connection to our heritage and get an understanding of the vibrant tapestry that is Indian society. It gives us a larger picture of the complexities of Indian society and the forces that have shaped it over the course of time and influenced by various reigns and dynasties.

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Indian Textile Prints to Jazz Up Your Wardrobe

Indian textile prints are as varied as they can be, both because of designs and the different techniques that they employ.



Indian textile, Indian print, batik, kalamkari, leheriya, ikkat, dabu, bandhani, ajrakh, indian heritage

There are three very visible markers of any place that defines it. First is language, second is their clothes and third is their food. Among these three, it’s clothes that are most easily adopted by people from different cultures as they often add more vibrancy and life to one’s look without giving their taste buds the sometimes unpleasant aftertaste or their brain a numbing pain from remembering the word structure and formation in another language. In India, cloth has been a symbol of freedom and resistance since colonial times and today it stands the testament of time and is the face of our national heritage. The different handloom technique that is used is one way to distinguish the different textiles in India. The different prints and printing technique is also a major distinguishing element. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Indian textile prints:    


Popular in Odisha, Gujrat and Andhra Pradesh, this print is surely an acquired taste. Made by tying and dyeing sections of the yarn before weaving the fabric which leads to the iconic blurring effect. The symmetry and beauty of this print are bound to leave you spellbound. It is common to find motifs of flowers and animals like fish, parrots, etc. in this design.



Started by the Khatri community of Gujarat, it is known for its different dot-sized prints on a colourful backdrop. Created using a tie-dye technique wherein the cloth is tied in several tight small knots with a sealed thread and then dyed. If you’re a lover of bright colours this print is for you.



Another popular print from Western India, Dabu follows a hand-block printing technique. In this a mud-resisting agent primarily made up of calcium hydroxide or chuna, naturally pounded wheat chaff (beedan) and gum (gond) is used to apply it on the fabric before and during an indigo bath. After the indigo bath, the cloth is washed to remove the mud and it leaves behind the beautiful motifs of flowers and plants. Getting its name from ‘dabana’ meaning ‘to press’, this technique creates beautiful patterns that have re-emerged as a trendy pattern in the fashion scene today.



Using a wax resistance dying technique Batik is a very intricate design technique which involves covering certain areas of clothing with bits of wax and then dyeing the cloth. This leads to the formation of patterns in those areas where the bits of wax were originally laid. This creates an intricate and repetitive pattern consisting of motifs which may be floral or ornamental.



Very popular in Sindh, Pakistan; Kutch, Gujarat; and Barmer, Rajasthan in India, Ajrakh follows a hand-block printing technique that gives it its rich and vibrant look. Using only natural dyes design stamps are created which are then applied to a piece of clothing to create the design. The print usually uses indigo or deep red colours and white or black outlines to define the design. It consists of symmetrical geometric elements that give it its intricate look.



Heavily inspired by Hindu mythology, and using motifs from Ramayana and Mahabharata it uses block or hand printing to achieve the famous intricate design. Kalamkari literally means “pen art”. In earlier days poets and singers used to paint Hindu mythology characters and their tales which ultimately led to the generation of textile printing Kalamkari.  



Leheriya is another traditional tie-dye technique that hails from Rajasthan. It is a rather simple technique that uses resist-dyeing to create the signature flickering wave-like patterns. In Rajasthan, waves are called “Leheriya”, and hence the technique is named after the pattern it creates. Printed on bright-coloured fabric, this print will surely add colourful zest to your wardrobe.   


These are just a few prints among the array of prints that give Indian textiles their unique flair! 

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Unraveling Bhakti Literature: An Immersive Exploration into its Saints and Cultural Imprint

Bhakti Literature was one of the most significant movements in Indian Literature. Discover more about its cultural impact in this article.



Bhakti Movement, Bhakti Literature, Kabir, Tulsidas , Mirabai

“Awake, arise, or be forever fallen.” 

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Modern days of the 21st century continually draw us towards the liberating ideologies that span the globe. However, in this fervor, we fail to acknowledge that we need not traverse vast distances to recognize that India’s Bhakti Movement and the various European anti-feudal movements may have shared their underlying ideas. That is the richness of our history.

Movements are born from reforms or rebellions. These may stem from changing socio-cultural landscapes or mental atmospheres about the prevailing social systems. The Bhakti Movement was one such movement. It arose from the advent of nationalism, as the scholars claim, against the heavily feudal social orders.

While the first wave of Bhakti as a concept dates back to the 7th century, it was only in the 12th century that it started evolving as a widespread cultural movement. As Balkrishna Bhatt referred to the Bhakti Literature as “the evolution of people’s sensibilities”, the medieval Indian masses witnessed a heightened awareness. This was in the forms of emotions, concerns and socio-economic position. This awareness gave rise to democratic cultural practices, much like the Renaissance in the European subcontinent.

Rejection of Feudalism: Folk Culture, Democratized Literature and Unification of Knowledge in Bhakti Literature

During the Sultanate period, Indian society was crammed with several aberrations, such as the caste system, rituals, polytheism, chaturvarna, etc. Therefore, Brahmanical dominance prevailed more than ever. It was during this time that many famous Bhakti saints like Kabir, Surdas and Mirabai wandered from place to place, singing hymns and drawing upon common people. These vernacular Bhakti saints, who were ideologically anti-Brahmanical, placed much importance on faith in divinity. This faith was free of prejudice against castes, regions, genders and religions. This spirit lay in the awareness spread by the Muslim invaders with the introduction of a more egalitarian religion, Islam. Alongside, they rejected aristocratic poetry and court languages – Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and Apabhramsha and produced literature in regional languages.

This form of rebellion against anti-human feudal orders was seen in the Bhakti movement for the first time. Moreover, it was not only the forms of court poetry that the Bhakti saints rejected. Primarily, it was their content that sprang from the experiences of common people and developed in folk culture and literature. This also bridged the artificial gap between literariness associated with traditional poetic language and spoken language for the first time in Indian history. As a counter-cultural movement, Bhakti had a lasting impact on literature, fine arts, and music altogether. At the same, it also unified the masses on a pan-Indian level, opposing the social issues of caste and gender.

As the Bhakti movement actively questioned and rebelled against the orthodox Brahmanical society, it beckoned people from lower castes and women to partake in the movement. This provided them with aspirations of gaining salvation regardless of their religion via devotion to the divine instead of reliance on exclusive Brahmanical knowledge. 

Saint Poets of The Medieval Bhakti Movement

Ramanuja, an influential figure in the Bhakti movement, emphasized the idea of devotion as a pathway to spiritual liberation. Similar to other Bhakti saints, he criticized and rejected the idea of the inaccessibility of spiritual liberation for the lower castes. Instead, he actively engaged folks from all social backgrounds. Furthermore, his commentaries on important Hindu scriptures, such as the Bhagavad Gita, provided knowledge to the lower sections of society, which violated the essential ideologies of Hinduism. 

The aspects of rebellion and resistance have an immense place in the poetry of Surdas and Tulsidas. They immensely used the traditional Sanskrit elements as tools to create their Bhakti poems. These poems were often centered around courageous heroes rebelling against exploitative and unjust forces. This highlighted the then-current socio-cultural and economic landscapes. Moreover, their heroes often killed the tyrannical figures in order to establish benevolent socio-political orders. It was these underlying ideologies that aggravated the aristocrats and invited resistance of Bhakti from their courts.

Sant Kabir, born in the 15th century, was yet another saint poet of medieval Bhakti movements. He emphasized the importance of inner divinity and humanism over outward piety, which is false in its actual essence. It denounced the hypocrisy of the aristocrats and authority figures and accentuated the anti-humanist emotions behind social violence.

Mirabai, often considered a symbol of Bhakti poetry, popularized devotional literature in vernacular languages. She made spiritual themes accessible to the masses, which aristocrats again looked down upon. More importantly, her devotion defied the rigid gender and social norms attached to her as a Rajput woman. Her poetry also contained many elements of Sufism, which again targeted the religious beliefs of the time. 

It is almost surprising how both the ancient and the medieval Bhakti movements were established in vastly different societies, contemporary politics, religious beliefs, masses across the Indian subcontinent, etc., and yet shared the underlying essence. What is equally astonishing is that it remains a striving utopia even today, in the 21st century. The socio-political affairs, massively advanced and reformed, lack the egalitarianism that Sant Kabir adopted as inner divinity in the 15th century and women’s liberation still remains a quest as they hide their innermost desired achievements in secrecy behind the guise of gopis.

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

The Rich History & Value of Indian Handloom

Indian handloom is the pride and joy of our nation, but were you aware of its rich history and how much significance it holds for us Indians?



National Handloom Day, Handloom, Swadeshi Movement, Handloom UPSC, Swadeshi Movement UPSC

India’s pride and joy which makes it stand out on the global stage is indefinitely its handloom. Indian handloom has been around for centuries. But how well do we know about its existence? Has its history always been rich and colourful? Or have there been specks of black and grey that adds a tone of melancholy to this vibrant sector? Let’s dig deep into this so that we can understand its true value by the end of this article at the very least.  

Indian Handloom: A Brief History

Having a vibrant and diverse history, Indian handloom has been around for a really long time. Some say it dates back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. There was a time in ancient India wherein every village had their own community of weavers. And these weavers ensured that all the clothing needs of each respective town were met. Because of the existence of many weaver communities that were scattered throughout India catering to a very diverse population and having different access to resources, different forms and styles of weaving on different kinds of materials came into existence.

Considered a high-standard occupation, weavers were of immense importance to the Vedics. The settlement of Aryan ensured weaving as a craft was honoured and efforts were made to develop it further. The era of the Mughals was considered the golden age for Indian craftsmanship. During their rule, handloom sarees like Sambalpuri, Banarasi, Jamawar, Maheshwari, Nuapatna Khandua, Mulmul, etc. took centre stage. 

With the colonial invasion and the usage of industrial looms, the handloom sector in India saw a decline. As the British officials forced the weavers to use synthetic yarn, it led to a loss of livelihood for the spinners. And gradually weavers who were unable to afford these industrial looms lost their livelihood as well. Fortunately, this trend was reversed by Swadeshi movement. As people went back to using Khadi, there was a revival of the Indian handloom sector.

Sadly this revival was quashed once again with India’s entry into the global market. On one end India opened its door to globalisation in the 1990s and made it easier for private companies to grow. And on the other end, many traditional weavers closed their shops as they were unable to keep up with the cheap and mass-produced goods.  


Due to continued efforts by the government, such as The rural employment guarantee act (MGNREGA) of 2006, the National Handloom Policy of 2007, etc. weavers’ livelihoods are protected to some extent. The handloom sector not only holds cultural significance to the country but has also made India the 3rd largest exporter of Textiles & Apparel in the world. It is one of the sectors that promoted women’s employment as over 70% of the weavers are women.

Because of its huge significance in helping our country gain freedom and ensuring that our culture is immortalized, the government of India has designated 7th August as National Handloom Day, as on that particular day in 1905 the Swadeshi Movement was launched. It celebrates the historic call to promote indigenous products during the Swadeshi movement. Spearheaded by visionary leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Lala Lajpat Rai, this movement held a special significance in encouraging the use of handloom and local craftsmanship, while the Indian handloom played a very integral part in deciding the fate of India’s freedom.

Credits: YouTube (Isha Foundation)
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Ancient Innovative Taq Construction of Jammu & Kashmir

Discover how ancient Indian architecture protected the beautiful land of Kashmir from earthquakes with progressive construction techniques.



Taq Constructions, Indian Architecture, Kashmiri Architecture, Earthquake resistant building, building design

Nestled in the lush green hills in the north of India lays Jammu and Kashmir. A beautiful land with breathtaking landscapes that are bound to rest every restless soul. But every beauty comes with a price. And the same is true for Kashmir. Although its beauty remains unparalleled, its geophysical setting makes it highly prone to earthquakes. On top of that, the beautiful city of Srinagar is actually in a very high-risk earthquake zone. And as the saying goes, ‘Earthquakes don’t kill people-buildings do’, it is the need of the hour for people there to come up with highly innovative construction ideas to survive this natural disaster.   

Taq Construction

Considered one of the oldest systems of construction which was once very common in Srinagar, Kashmir. Taq construction was famous for its ability to withstand earthquake shock. Made out of wood and masonry a taq building can be several floors high yet still withstand the test of time because of its strong structure. The Kashmiri construction of Taq walls typically involves a combination of brick and rubble stone or sun-dried bricks, which were laid in thick mud mortar. These walls were then reinforced with load-bearing piers placed at regular intervals. 

A distinctive characteristic of Taq walls is that the infill masonry panels are not rigidly connected to the piers. This design feature enables the building to accommodate and adjust to differential settlements, which are common on the soft soil found in Srinagar. By allowing flexibility between the infill panels and the piers, Taq walls are better able to handle variations in the ground settlement, thus enhancing the structural stability of the buildings constructed on such soil. 

The flexibility provided by the wooden lacings at the slab and lintel level along with the configuration of interior partitions allows the building to move along with the seismic wave during an earthquake. This is the secret to how the Taq building survives through earthquakes. Built in the 19th century, Jalali House still stands tall and serves as one of the prime examples of 19th-century Taq architecture. 

Dhajji Dewari Construction

Another common construction technique that is used in Kashmir is Dhajji Dewari. Dhajji is a Persian word that translates to quilt patchwork in the ancient language of carpet weavers. Combined with the word Dewari which means wall, Dhajji Dewari construction is named so because it gives the appearance of patchwork art on the wall. 

During the 2005 earthquake that hit Kashmir, Dhajji Dewari construction became the underdog that saved many lives because of its unique design. Unlike traditional masonry-bearing wall construction, it consists of a braced timber-framed structure with masonry infills. A strong foundation is laid with stone and cement mortar and the plinth beam which is made out of timber is anchored well into it. The timber posts which make up the braced timber frame are of different sizes and are combined together to form a basic structure. The roof is often a flat mud or timber roof or a pitched roof of metal sheeting/ timber. 

The best part about Dhajji Dewari is that it is made up of locally available materials such as timber, stone or brick, mud and metal sheeting. The close arrangement of wooden studs in the structure prevents diagonal shear cracks from spreading within a single section and reduces the chances of thin masonry walls collapsing outwards. Additionally, the timber studs bear the vertical loads and contribute to the required flexibility of the overall structure. 

The mortar and masonry infill panels have the ability to break easily along their plane, which helps them absorb seismic energy by generating friction with the surrounding timber framing and within the cracks of the infill material. And that’s the secret to how the Dhajji Dewari building survives earthquakes.


These two unique forms of construction which have been in India for centuries show the foresight of ancient Indian architecture. Sadly nowadays these constructions are being abandoned for more contemporary-looking buildings with less strength. Given the high-risk zone the area of Jammu and Kashmir is in it is important for us to go back to these designs for the future of humanity. Apart from the rustic aesthetic, these buildings stand the test of time because of their progressive construction technique. 

Credits: YouTube (National Geographic India)
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