When you hear Agra, your mind immediately links it to Taj Mahal. But this huge town is not just about the Taj Mahal. Agra today holds a position in India as a great tourist spot and also a big place for handicraft and leather production. From food to handicraft, the city places a great choice in front of its entire tourist population for items to take back home for themselves as well as their near and dears.
Here are the few things that I found interesting in the city of Agra:
100 Gram Cotton Quilt:
You may be thinking that what could be so special about a quilt, everybody has one at home. But this is no ordinary quilt, first of all this is made out of only 100 grams cotton thus making it very light and compact. Secondly it is weather adapting i.e. it adjusts to the temperature in both; winter and summer and thus can be used throughout the year. And the best part is that it isn’t expensive as the production is through small scale industries, making the price of one single bed quilt about 600-800 rupees.
Sarees made from Banana, Bamboo, and Apricot:
Everybody knows about silk and cotton sarees but this may be one of the few places where you can buy a Bamboo or Banana saree. The speciality of this saree is that it is stiff without starch and doesn’t get crumbled even if an elephant walks over it. A wide variety of colors and designs are available. One can also visit the weavers village which is about 20 kilometers from Agra and see the complete weaving process.
Camel and Goat leather shoes:
Agra is today one of the biggest production cities for leather. Popular brands like BATA, ADIDAS etc. have set up their factories in Sikandhara, Agra. The popularity for camel leather here is because it is almost water proof and more over doesn’t crease even after being rolled in a cylinder as you can see in the picture above. The leather is of really good quality and lasts for years and years.
The real Taj Mahal may be the biggest marble piece in this market but it doesn’t end here. In every shop in this city you can find Taj Mahal of various sizes and prices. Meenakari on marble is a popular work here and can be seen on boxes, plates, show pieces etc. Jaali work is another popular art that can be seen on the marble pieces here. The originality of marble can be checked by placing it on a light source, if the light passes through it, it is real.
Look carefully at the elephant in the picture about, the beauty of the elephant is that it is not just one elephant but three, one inside the other. This stone cutting work is also very popular in the Fatehpur Sikri villages. This cutting is completely done by hand and is very precise and intricate. The originality of stone can be checked by dipping in into water, if it is original it will change color.
Petha is the second thing after Taj Mahal, which is pretty popular in Agra. You can find a Petha store at every corner of the city but the most popular one is Panchi Petha. Here petha is not just limited to normal ones that we get in Haldirams but has so many varieties like Pan Petha, Chocolate Petha, Butter Scotch petha, Anguri Petha and many more. The production of petha can also be seen in nearby areas; FYI Petha is made from Pumpkin.
So next time you are in Agra, don’t restrict yourselves to the beauty of the Taj but enjoy the uniqueness of these handicrafts also.