View finder | Almora, Uttarakhand
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Copperware artwork is the traditional craft of the Tamta community in Almora, Uttarakhand. Indeed, the word tamta means copper. Five hundred years ago, the Tamtas were coin-makers for the royal treasury of the Chand dynasty in Kumaon. After the Chand dynasty’s reign, which began declining in 1744 and ended in 1816, the Tamtas started making copper utensils and decorative items.
On my visit to the Tamta mohalla (colony) in Almora, I saw Naveen Tamta and his family making traditional vessels such as gagar and phaula (to store water), parat (to knead dough) and thali (to serve food), as well as the lota and kundi used for pujas and rituals.
In the community’s heyday, entire villages were involved in the craft. Till a decade ago, 15-20 Tamta families were practising the craft in Almora. Today, there are just five.
The sounds of the chaukhan(hammer) and aini (anvil) still reverberate in Tamta mohalla, but these are growing fainter by the day.\\
Take the Ranikhet Express from Delhi (Old Delhi Junction) to Kathgodam (fare, Rs.200-700) and hire a taxi (for Rs.1,000 onwards) or board a bus (for around Rs.150) to Almora, which is about 85km and 3 hours away. Once in Almora, go to Thana Bazar and walk down the alley opposite the police station; ask the shopkeepers or just follow the sounds.
Hotel Shikhar, located on Mall Road, is a good budget option in Almora (starting at Rs.800 a night for double occupancy; www.hotelshikhar.in). For a luxury stay, try the Imperial Heights on the Almora-Binsar Road (Rs.3,900 onwards a night for doubleoccupancy.
There are several hiking trails around Almora. The 1,000-year-old Nanda Devi Temple is worth
visiting, as is the nearby Lala Bazar, with its stone-paved alleys lined with tiny shops. Buy locally made woollen shawls at the Panchachuli Weavers Factory.