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Small and beautiful

Raju Gusain | Dehradun |

Miniature ‘Pahadi’ (hill) house models are fast catching the fancy of handicraft lovers. The small and compact decorative item made by artisans of Uttarkashi is gaining popularity with each passing day. Earlier only one or two artisans used to make the houses, but now the number has crossed over a dozen.

The artisans living in Uttarkashi district came up with the idea of building a small house showcasing the hill architecture ~ slate stone as roof and wooden pillars with traditional designs. The minute woodwork and other details were included in the design to make it an instant hit. At present, the artisans are selling their handicrafts in trade fairs and handicraft emporiums.

The artisans are engaged in making wood kothar (to store grains) baskets/lamp shades from ‘Rangal,’ driftwood souvenir objects, etc. Artisan Anil Aggarwal says, “I generally make ‘Kothar’ for storing grains. But, inspired by others, I too have started making small wood houses.”Besides the traditional hill houses, local artisans are also making small wood models of Hindu shrines, including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The normal size of the house is just about 14 inches in height and about 22 inches in width. At present, constructing the traditional house is extremely difficult, if not impossible, due to non-availability of artisans and people opting for modern construction. The miniature hill houses have sentimental value for the highlanders and act as good souvenirs for tourists.

Artisan Chander Lall from Aagora village says, “I participate in trade fairs regularly and very recently was in England. We have started getting a good response now. The visitors show interest in our products and we are getting the miniature houses sold through handicraft showrooms and by participating in trade fairs.”

The Uttarkashi artisans first made the small hill house as an experiment, but as they saw overwhelming response from the public, began making such models in good number. The handicrafts emporium established by the industry’s department, near the bus stand in Uttarkashi is also helping the local artisans market their products. Local resident Vipin Panwar says, “The public response has inspired the artistes to come up with new designs. Some are now even making five-storey houses.”