Sunday 18 November 2012

Golden Triangle Part 2 : Anokhi Museum & Amber Fort

After a long and boring car drive along the dusty and not particularly scenic road between Delhi and Jaipur, we stopped off in Amber (pronounced “Amer”) to have a look at the fort but primarily to have a look around the aforementioned Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. I have a few readers who are especially keen on my textiles and shopping posts so I thought that the place deserved a separate blog entry.

A piece of Anokhi hand blocked fabric strung up to dry
The beautiful Anokhi Haveli - well hidden in the backstreets of Amber
Anokhi is famous for, and is a keen promoter of the traditional art of hand block printing on fabric.  There is a long history of this type of printing in this area (Sanganer) and Anokhi keeps the tradition alive. The Museum is "dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of block printed cloth". Anokhi fabrics are all fashioned into beautiful collections of fashion and household textiles, mostly with a contemporary edge.  I have several pieces of Anokhi clothing and have bought gorgeous table cloths and bedspreads for friends and family from the Anokhi branch in Mumbai. 

A previous Anokhi household textiles collection

Housed in a beautiful haveli in a hard to find backstreet (thankfully our driver knew exactly where it was as apparently we were not the first textile crazy housewives he had taken to the museum!), the first thing we did was use the loo.  Well it had been a long drive. Then after paying the small entry fee of 60 Rs each, we were able to have a casual look around – as we seemed to be the only ones there. Yaaay, finally no coach loads of foreign tourists! 

Of course what we really wanted to do was check out the on-site shop and see if they had any heavily discounted bargains.  Unfortunately this was not to be as in fact they had a smaller selection of clothing than in their regular shops and hardly any household textiles for sale.  What they did have however, were some lovely bags of patchwork squares cut from excess fabric which I had not seen in any other branch of Anokhi.  So some shopping was achieved!

After that moment of excitement (but slight disappointment about such a small shop), we were able to settle into having a look around the museum.  There was something to see on each of the three floors, with each area connected by windy steps (fun for kids).  There were glass cases containing various fashion collections from over the years, displays of block printing equipment and fabrics with showcasing the many methods of printing.  On one of the open squares of the building, we came upon a little old man who was creating a new block out of wood – chiselling and hammering with such precision using only a hand drawn design as his template. 

Fashioning a block out of wood with just a chisel

The finished product - what a gorgeous design

The original paper template which had been drawn by hand.

A range of hand drawn designs and finished blocks.

Chiselling out blocks (above and below)

On another floor a demonstration of the block printing art was also being shown.  A wiry man was pressing a block into some plain white fabric and then slamming the side of his hand down on it to leave a decent impression. I wondered to myself if he must suffer from sort of repetitive strain injury from doing that all these years.  Most of us would be left with severe bruising from carrying out that activity for just two minutes! The precision of the block printing was very impressive – everything being done by eye alone – and very interesting to see.

The art of block printing being demonstrated at the Anokhi Musuem.  A second block of green dye being overlaid over the original template outlined in blue.  The precision of doing this by hand is astounding.

Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing
Chanwar Palkiwalon ki Haveli (Anokhi Haveli)
Kheri Gate, AMBER, Jaipur

Map here:
Make sure you carefully check the website above for opening and closing times before visiting.

That was the end of our little excursion to the museum – after that we went on to the very scenic Amber Fort - where we were chased through the many corridors by teenage boys trying to sneak photos of the fair skinned La Visitante. 

Here are some more pictures of our day:

A procession of elephants at the Amber Fort

A nice bit of topiary inside the Amber Fort
Amber Fort from below

Musicians at a Diwali celebration by the lake nearby to the Fort

The romantic Jai Mahal Lake Palace at Amber

La Visitante being photographed with a group of students! (Jai Mahal Palace in the distance)


  1. Very interesting post - the fabrics look gorgeous! Even the blocks look like works of art in themselves!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. I like the Lake Palace and the man and his handmade block for creating prints on cloth.



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