Reflecting on the travels we’d already done and those we were about to do, we decided that a visit to Shilpgram was appropriate.
As we discovered later, there are a series of shilpgrams throughout several cities in India, established by the government to promote tourism and cottage industries. We went to Shilpgram in Udaipur less for the shopping, and more for the cultural experience.
Shilpgram, basically, is an outdoor museum/village that has been established on the edge of Udaipur. There’s a collection of 20 or so houses from all different regions of India, set up so you can learn about the traditional ways of life.
I think it’s probably the best during the Indian tourist season, as there would be more people demonstrating traditional crafts such as pottery and weaving. When we were there, it was pretty quiet, it being the end of the foreign tourist season. Still, we found it interesting and informative, and we enjoyed our time there.
Here are a couple of examples of traditional houses in different regions in India:
Each house has a sign with a paragraph or so explaining its region and typical occupants, and it was fun to be able to go inside all of them to explore. Rajasthani houses (the round ones) have lots of mirrors inside, and desert houses are made so people can walk on the roof!
Inside the houses were some traditional displays and decorations too:
And of course, there were vendors too. We expected that in busier times they would have some demonstrations, like pottery or weaving saris. And although we didn’t buy anything this time, it seemed like things were very cheap, since everything came directly from the artisan.
So yes, we did enjoy our visit to Shilpgram, though it would have been better if we had given ourselves a bit more time to wander more leisurely, and also if we had come during a more peak-time, so there would have been more going on, music and dance-wise. Still, it was informative and a fun way to spend a few hours.