MP's Pranpur Is India's First Craft Handloom Tourism Village

Pranpur currently has 450 families engaged in weaving Chanderi Silk saris who have been in the business for generations
Pranpur Weavers' Village, Madhya Pradesh
Pranpur Weavers' Village, Madhya PradeshMP Tourism

One of my early memories of Chanderi silk goes back to the time when my mother and her sister were unpacking the saris gifted by their spouses; they tried on these gossamer thin GI (Geographical Indication) saris one by one, making pleats and marvelling at the softness of the fabric. Little did I know that one day I would visit a village named after this lightweight textile.

Located about 207 km from Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior, Chanderi is famous for its handwoven silk saris. The state government recently concluded the 5-day Chanderi Festival to celebrate the legacy of its sheer-textured fabric, which is said to have emerged in the 13th century. However, not many know the beautiful silk saris are woven in Pranpur, a weavers' village about 3 km from Chanderi, where at least 450 weaver families live.

Fashion show at Chanderi Festival
Fashion show at Chanderi FestivalHimakshi Panwar

Pranpur Weavers' Village

Pranpur Weavers' Village
Pranpur Weavers' VillageHimakshi Panwar

A short car ride from Chanderi brought us to Pranpur. Entering the village, we were awed by the architecture of the century-old houses, spruced up fresh paint and floral designs. "A team of design students from Ujjain were roped in for this renovation project. They were tasked to decorate these houses and the village lanes, ensuring that the rustic legacy of the village is justified," said Nagendra Mehta, Art & Craft Director, MP Tourism Board.

The heritage walk acquainted our group with rural life. Children looked at us with curiousity while women offered us water when we walked past their houses. Outside the media glare, handlooms were clacking away—the spools clanging on pit looms to shape the yarn.

A weaver at work on a handloom in Pranpur
A weaver at work on a handloom in PranpurHimakshi Panwar

With their hands and legs work in tandem, the weavers told us that each sari takes no less than three days of work. "Our family has been engaged in weaving for 200 years. Even the new generations are skilled in weaving. We take pride in our work and hope to continue our legacy," said weaver Aslam Khan.

"These are pit looms, requiring manual labour, unlike modern power looms. If one wants to delve deeper into the region's textile culture, there is no place better than Pranpur," added Mehta.

The Craft Hub

The folk singers of Pranpur
The folk singers of PranpurHimakshi Panwar

Pranpur's identity has primarily been associated with Chanderi saris. But the village has much more to offer.

The Gwalvanshis, who claim to be descendants of the Gwala (herder) community, are known for their devotion to Lord Krishna. Clad in white kurtas and orange scarves, Shivraj Singh Pal and his community have been singing these devotional folk songs for four generations. Interestingly, these men are not engaged in weaving. "We are a family of folk singers, who perform on special occasions like festivals, to express our gratitude to Lord Krishna," said Pal.

Pranpur Weavers' Village
Pranpur Weavers' VillageMP Tourism

"Besides handloom, the locals are well-versed in making stone carvings and terracotta. People should view Pranpur and Chanderi beyond the forts and museums. With Pranpur being a cultural hub, we decided to exclusively make it a craft centre, making it India's first craft handloom tourism village with the tagline: Har Ghar Utpaadan Kendra, Har Ghar Bikri Kendra, Pura Gaon Bazaar," said Mehta. Metal crafts, wooden art and stone carving are commonly practised occupations here.

Before the MP government's craft village project, not many people visited Pranpur. However, the initiative has bolstered Pranpur's tourism prospects.

The Challenge

Nagendra Mehta (in brown shirt), Art & Craft Director, MP Tourism Board
Nagendra Mehta (in brown shirt), Art & Craft Director, MP Tourism BoardHimakshi Panwar

Accommodation is a challenge in Pranpur with only a handful of stays, including Amraee Rural Heritage Resort, built in 2005. As part of the Central Government's tourism project, the village was shaped into a rural tourism hub through this resort, set up to acquaint tourists with Pranpur's cultural roots.

Among the limited options are Tana Bana MPTDC, MPT Kila Kothi and Hotel Sri Kunj. The state government has plans to expand lodging options.

"As far as Pranpur is concerned, we have plans to set up homestays here and in the vicinity. However, things will take time. We need to upskill these villagers; once we have the final go-ahead for the homestays, their training will take at least six months," said Mehta.

To deal with the accommodation challenge, the Madhya Pradesh government has also set up a tent city in Chanderi. Inspired by Swiss Tents, 35 luxury tents by Sunset Desert Camp have been installed to expand lodging options.

"The agreement for the tent city is for 10 years. However, the future of the tent city depends on the business. They (Sunset Desert Camp) will continue if they get business. In the initial phase, they will run it for three months, and if the business is good, they can continue," added Mehta.

This oldest tailor shop has been a shooting location for movies like Sui Dhaaga
This oldest tailor shop has been a shooting location for movies like Sui DhaagaHimakshi Panwar

Given the heritage-rich attractions in and around Pranpur, the village has been a shooting location for movies like "Stree" and "Sui Dhaga." However, often, the movie makers need help with rooms. The tent city, with its lavish facilities, aims to bolster the film tourism prospects of the region. "MP government is promoting the tent city at places with a shortage of accommodation. The idea is to offer a unique experience to patrons like filmmakers and other tourists who can afford these luxury tents. We also plan to develop affordable dormitory tents for backpackers and students in the future," said Hiteshwar Singh of Sunset Desert Camp.

Heritage-rich lanes of Chanderi
Heritage-rich lanes of ChanderiHimakshi Panwar

Getting There: Gwalior Airport is nearest to Chanderi. From there, take a cab to the village, about 4-5 hours away, covering a distance of approximately 207 km. For those travelling via train from nearby states such as Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh, Lalitpur Junction is the nearest railway station, about 37 km from the village.

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