Kanihama in central Kashmir’s district Budgam is coming up as a ‘Handloom Tourism Village’ (HTV) thanks to an ongoing centrally-sponsored project.
The place is known as Kashmir’s Handloom Village.
Deputy Commissioner, Budgam, Shahbaz Mirza, who is monitoring the Ministry of Textile project, said that the village would be equipped with all required facilities so that any foreigner or local visitor coming to the village does not face any kind of inconvenience.
The weavers here are very skilled; they weave shawls of good designs with fine yarn on handlooms “but they do not have a place to display, and sell their handloom products on suitable platforms,” the DC Budgam told Greater Kashmir.
He said that Kanihama village has all the characteristics to become HTV and the tourist footfall could boost earnings of the weavers and other villagers.
Under the project, “a common work-shed is being built and it can be utilized to provide space for their weaving tradition and sell handloom products as well as for cafeteria where tourists can refresh and relax,” he said.
“The main aim of developing this village is to promote Kani shawl and craft all over the world, besides introducing its artisans’ weavers locally and internationally so that they can manage its weaving, production, demonstration, exhibitions and sale without the involvement of brokers,” he said.
According to officials, the district administration has held several meetings with Gram Panchayat, BDO (Narbal), District Panchayat officer, Chief Planning officer, ADC of the Budgam district where this project is being implemented.
“We also interacted with the responsible local people for feedback and suggestions in this regard,” the officials said.
Under the project, the administration is planning construction of ‘welcome gate’ at entry point of the village, macadamization of the main road, improving the water supply and public drinking point and beautification of schools, etc.
The project also envisages renovation and upgradation of medical aid centre, plying of green buses from Srinagar to Kanihama, implementing solid waste management project, establishment of bus stands and renovation of passenger sheds, establishment of weavers’ work shed, cafeteria, improvement of weavers’ house, etc.
The DC said the beautification of the village is on top agenda and authorities have been directed to provide all necessary facilities to the designated craft center located on the Srinagar Gulmarg Road.
“A Kani shawl is made as per a set design and only the trained craftsmen are knowledgeable enough to do it. Kani shawl has got registration under GI (Geographical Indication) by The Craft Development Institute,” artisan and exporter, Sajad Kanihami, said.
Director Handicrafts, Kashmir, Masarat-Ul-Islam, said that Kashmir is world-renowned for Kani shawls woven by using twill-tapestry technique. “Combined with twill weave and using finest yarns of different colours, it creates an effect that is almost impossible to reproduce by mechanical means.”
Pertinently, Kani weaving is believed to be an art indigenous to Kanihama and traced to 3000 BC. This exquisite shawl was once used by Mughal kings, Sikh Maharajas and British aristocrats.
The Ain-i-Akbari records that Emperor Akbar was an avid collector of Kani shawls. While the name ‘Kani’ comes from the area where this particular artisan comes from, Kanihama, the word ‘Kani’ – in Kashmiri – also means a small wooden oblong spool.