Arts & Crafts
In keeping with the rich traditions of the State, the people of Andhra
Pradesh have patronised a host of arts and crafts that not only enrich
the milieu but earn the artisans a decent livelihood. Kalamkari,
Bidri, Nirmal paintings, fascinating weaves from
Pochampalli, Gadwal, Venkatagiri and a number of other
centres have earned a name all over the world.
The State is well known
for its handlooms and textiles and its silk sarees are
among the best produced in the country. The people of the State too have
been patrons of the arts and crafts and this has resulted in the
traditions being kept alive through the ages.
It is not only such
exclusive and delicate material as silk that the artisans of Andhra
Pradesh deal in, but metalware, carpets, wood and stone
carving too. From the exquisite silver filigree and brass
and sheet metalware, artisans of Andhra Pradesh strive to bring out
the best and it is sheer magic when they get down to producing their
Kalamkari, using a
quill (kalam) and vegetable dyes, is an art found nowhere else but in
and around Machilipatnam and Srikalahasti of the State. While the
Srikalahasti style is to draw outlines with a pen or quill and fill in
the colours through a wax process, the Machilipatnam practice is to use
wooden blocks carved into designs for printing.
All dyes and colours are
natural and the painstaking process of Kalamkari printing on fabric goes
through as many as a dozen stages.
Wall hangings come in
another style from Siddipet in Medak district. This method, known as
Batik, utilises the ‘cold’ process involving wax to create graphic
designs and figures. Batik cloth also comes in the form of dress
material, scarves and even sarees.
paintings done on cloth in earth colours is one of the traditional
crafts practised mainly at Cherial in Warangal district. Painted in
freestyle and depicting mythological stories, they are used as visual
aids, and have attained great popularity as wall decorations.
hand-crocheted lace from Narsapur and Palakollu of West Godavari
district adorns many a dining table in the form of mats. Curtains and
bedspreads are some of the lacework produced here.
Sheets of Artistry
Metalware is another area in
which the artisan of Andhra Pradesh excels. Be it the brass sheet metal
of Pembarti in Warangal district, the silver filigree of Karimnagar, the
Bidriware of Hyderabad or the bronze castings in Chittoor and East
Godavari district, the artistry stands out to international acclaim and
originated some three centuries ago at Bidar, which was part of the
erstwhile Hyderabad State. Alloys are used in moulds to create shapes
and the dark metal is then inlaid with designs using silver thread.
Decorative pieces, bangles, ashtrays, pen-stands, caskets, cufflinks and
paper-cutters are some of the Bidriware manufactured in and around
From sheet metal to wood,
craftsmen vie with each other to produce delicate and intricate designs.
Wood carving in Chittoor district is one of the oldest
traditional crafts. The carvings depict scenes from mythology as well as
figures of deities.
In other parts of the
State, wood carving is done to make musical instruments and in
places like in Vizianagaram town and in Nuzvid of Krishna district, such
instruments as Veena and Tambura are carved out of a single block of
The Simple Wood
The soft wood available in many
parts of the State is used in doll and toy making as well. The
wooden figures are painted in bright colours that are pleasing to
Kondapalli is a small
village in Krishna district and it is here that toys and dolls that have
won international acclaim are made. The simple-looking
dolls depict the typical
rural Indian life. Kondapalli dolls take the shape of
humans, birds, animals and fruits.
The craftsmen of Nirmal
too take advantage of the locally-available soft wood to carve
brightly coloured vegetables, fruits and animals.
Wooden dolls are made of the soft Poniki or Ankudu wood and Etikoppaka
in Visakhapatnam district is another centre that makes exquisite dolls
with a rustic touch.
An area that Andhra Pradesh
excels in is Sarees. Silk and cotton and a mixture of both are
used to create alluring weaves and designs. Pochampalli,
Gadwal, Venkatagiri, Narayanpet and Chirala are
some of the places where some of the world’s best sarees are woven.
Among the cottons,
Narayanpet and Venkatagiri are preferred. Venkatagiri
in Nellore district is known for its excellent cotton sarees with gold
borders and large golden ‘pallav’. Narayanpet cotton sarees are less
expensive and long-lasting. Silk sarees from Dhamavaram compare
with the rich silks of Kancheepuram in broad borders with extensive gold
In Pochampalli sarees
of Nalgonda district adjoining Hyderabad, a unique method of
tie-and-dye is used and this is known as ‘ikat’. Weavers in Andhra
Pradesh have mastered the art of using cotton and silk alternately for
warp (length) and weft (across). Known as ‘Himroo’, the art originated
in Kashmir and was brought down south by Moghal rulers.
Pearls & Bangles
Shopping for bangles in the
narrow bazaars of the Old City of Hyderabad is an experience one should
not miss. Lac is used to manually create designs on glass bangles
and the array in which they come is mind boggling. More romantic are the
names given to sets of bangles by the local sellers.
Hyderabad is also known
as the ‘city of pearls’. Though not close to the sea, Hyderabad has
had a flourishing trade in pearls, as the Golconda kingdom was famous
for its diamonds. The processing of pearls has been skillfully mastered
in Hyderabad in that craftsmen can sort, refine and polish pearls with
Andhra Pradesh has
turned out to be a gem of a State even in the sphere of arts and crafts.
The rich heritage and culture of Andhra Pradesh are reflected in the
culinary skills of its people. The mere mention of Andhra and Hyderabadi
cuisine brings before the mind’s eye a wholesome meal accompanied by hot
tasty pickles or ‘Biryani’ accompanied by an appetising aroma.
But there is more to the
cuisine of the State with each of the three regions — Coastal Andhra,
Rayalaseema and Telangana — having its distinctive style of cooking.
Chillies and spice are used in abundance but this need not deter food
lovers from indulging themselves in a feast. By and large, the cuisine
is vegetarian but the Moghal influence in the Deccan made ‘Moghlai’
is known for its wholesome Biryani and a wide range of
non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian fare, the coastal region of the
State offers a wide choice as far as vegetarian cooking and pickles are
concerned. The chillies grown in the region are highly potent and this
gives the special flavour to the pickles.
Those willing to let
themselves go for Moghlai cooking can choose from a large variety. ‘Sheermal’,
a local variety of bread, or tandoori roti baked on hot coals are
on the starting line. The non-vegetarian dishes include ‘paya’ — hoof of
lamb cooked over a slow fire overnight in a spicy soup so that by
morning the bones become soft and chewable — and ‘zubaan’ — lamb tongue
cooked in the same manner.
Haleem is pieces of
boneless mutton cooked over a long period with pounded wheat to form a
spicy porridge. Most of the dishes are available in the evening and
before sunrise in hundreds of hotels and restaurants during the fasting
month of Ramzan and are popular meals to break or begin the fast with.
And it is not only meat
and fowl that Moghlai deals with. The brinjal or ‘eggplant’ that has no
taste of its own is given a spicy, tangy flavour in the ‘bagara
baigan’, using tamarind and spices. Dalcha is a watery dal in which
‘kaddu (pumpkin)’ or boneless mutton is used. ‘Bagara tamatar’ and ‘mirchi
ka salan’ are equally rich in spice and chillies and `bagara khana’
makes up for the vegetarians who miss out on the biryani.
‘Avakai’ is the really hot and tangy mango pickle and
there is hardly any household in the region that does not prepare it
during the summer. The raw mangoes too are extremely sour and the pickle
combined with the harsh chilli-powder and pungent mustard in oil gives
it a heady taste.
Gongura, known as ‘ambada’
in Hindi and Urdu, is a sour-tasting leaf that goes into either ‘dal’ or
is converted into a ‘chutney’ — another speciality in Andhra. Gongura
chutney with either red or green chillies gives a taste hard to find
elsewhere. You also find a lot of tasty non-vegetarian dishes blended
with green leafy vegetables, like ‘palak mutton’, ‘methi
chicken’, ‘kheema methi’ and ‘mutton ambada (Gongura)’,
which has resulted from combination of Hyderabad and Andhra cuisine.
A typical Andhra meal has lots of chillies and is often accompanied by
pickles. While raw mango pickle is the hot favourite, others
include lemon, gooseberry, ‘Gongura’ and even
ripe chillies pickles. Ripe red chillies and tamarind are
used to make ‘chutney’ that is preserved throughout the year.
Curried prawns and fish
with rice are specialities in many coastal Andhra towns and cities.
Rice is the staple food in Andhra Pradesh and forms the main dish even
in Moghlai cooking.
Sweets and ‘kheer’ are not everyday affairs but form part of the
meal on special occasions in any part of the State. It is mainly during
festivities that full rein is given to the preparation. While `Sheer
Khorma’ is the milky vermicelli sweet popular in Hyderabad, other
dessert delicacies include "Double-ka-meetha (a bread pudding)"
and "Khubani-ka-meetha", a syrupy speciality made with apricots
and lots of sugar. In other parts of Andhra, a rice and milk delicacy is
"ksheerannam" in which jaggery (gur) and powdered cardamom
enhance the taste.
While Moghlai cuisine tops
the list, Andhra food comes a close second. It is often that regular
non-vegetarians break their routine by going in for a typical Andhra
The cuisine of Andhra
Pradesh is a gourmet’s delight, truly. Such delicacies are offered
by the hotels, restaurants and dhabas in and around all major cities of