Agartala is a mini storehouse of Tripura's rich cultural diversity and a getaway to the miraculous mountains of the state.
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Gulabi Minakari is one of the rarest crafts in India that is practiced in the bylanes of Varanasi, near Gai Ghat. Minakari is an art form from Persia and involves colouring the surface of metals by fusing different colours. This art was brought to the city of Varanasi by Persian enamellists during the Mughal era around the early 17th century. The word 'mina' is the feminine form of the Persian word 'Minoo' and means 'heaven'. It refers to the azure colour of heaven. In Varanasi, it is practiced on jewellery and home decor items. One can also buy souvenirs like birds and elephants decorated with minakari. It shows most beautifully on gold as its natural sheen sets off the colours best. It also looks lovely on enamel. Thus, one can shop for products with minakari work on them like jewellery boxes, idols, sculptures, key chains, dining sets, trays, cupboards etc. Minakari work uses very simple tools like salai (an etching tool), kiln, metal palette, mortar and pestle, kalam (a tool used to apply enamel), brass dye, small scrubbing brush, forceps and takala (a needle-like tool to apply colours). Minakari can be found popularly in three forms-- Ek Rang Khula Meena in which only gold outlines are exposed and a single transparent colour is used; Panch Rangi Meena in which the five colours of red, white, green, light blue and dark blue are used; Gulabi Meena in which pink is the dominant colour. Varanasi is highly popular for Gulabi Minakari.
Wooden toys are one of the traditional handicrafts of the city of Varanasi. Since the city is considered sacred, most of these toys are made in the form of deities along with birds and animals. Originally, the toys were carved in ivory and gradually the art evolved with the toys being made in wood. From procuring the wood, carving by hand to lacquering, the process is an intricate one. The most important part of the process is selecting the right wood. It is then dried to seep out all moisture. Generally, Sal and Sheesham woods are preferred. To create a design, the artist peels and cuts the wood with knives and other equipment. Then, the toy is painted. After that lacquer is added and the product is ready to be sold.
Varanasi is popular for its glass beads that are available in various colours. The art can be traced back to an archaeological site in Haryana, Bhagwanpura. This can be dated back to the late-Harappan period. Many methods are employed to create these glass beads. One of these involves transforming the glass into rods or sticks. These sticks are then melted and the glass is wound around a wire. While it is still hot, it is shaped into a bead. Once cooled, the bead is taken off the wire and woven into an ornament. Beautiful jewellery made out of glass beads is also a must-buy in Varanasi.