• Journey route

  • Travel Distance

    KMS (Apx.)
Cities: Kolkata, Joypur, Santiniketan, Amadubi (Nr.Jamshedpur), Bodhgaya, Patna, Jitwarpur.

About the Journey

They connect the dots, they tell stories and more often than not, they invite our curiosity. Doors form an integral part of our exploration. They weave together aspects of culture, architecture, history and lifestyle and represent to us the destination as a whole.

We are taking a trail through east of India across cities and villages in Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. This journey will unravel centuries of secrets and past remnants. We start in Bengal where we unearth the relevance of the forgotten terracotta villages. Then proceed towards its European association in the world-adored destination of Shantiniketan. And of course, indulge in the historic and photogenic influences of the mixed culture in the capital city.

Further, we steer into an off-the-beaten trail into Jharkhand where we will immerse ourselves in the traditional patterns of a sustainable village. And go on towards the state it was once a part of, Bihar.

From its most famed museum door in its capital to the drastic change of cultural patterns in Bodhgaya, Bihar will surprise us at every turn. We will explore the significance of this Buddhist pilgrimage centre.

And then drive towards a wonderland that very few have witnessed. Madhubani art is one of the finest that India produces. Jitwarpur lies in the heart of it with incredible art and precise work shaping most lives. It is also the home to a number of Padma Shri winners who have practiced this art for decades together.

While we will be exploring the doors across this diverse travel, the focus will equally be on the local lives. All we are doing is connecting the dots and sharing them with you.
#Doors of India: for the curious minds.

The Door's Stories

Madhubani’s Art and the Lives Around it

  July 06, 2017
Madhubani is a small town, about 175 kilometres away from Bihar’s capital city. I have been fascinated by the region because of the world-renowned art that is produced from here. What added to this was the fact that this district also has a long list of women Padma Shri awardees.

And so, when my journey took me to this destination, it was no surprise that I found myself gravitating towards the smallest design I encountered anywhere.

The exploration started from Jitwarpur, about 4 kilometres from Madhubani town. But it was actually Ranti which introduced me to the murals. I walked into Mahasundari Devi’s house and introduced myself to her daughter-in-law, Bibha Das. Mahasundari Devi won the Padma Shri in 2011 and Bibha Das is also an award winning Madhubani painter. When the French documentary filmmaker, Yves Vequaud, bought her paintings and happened to show it to Pablo Picasso, he fondly wrote, ‘People tell me that I am a great artist; but when I see your art, I find you a far better artist than me.’ This has been the impact of her work.

She passed away in 2013 and left her home to her family. Above the door, I saw a photograph of Mahasundari Devi herself. The other doors alternated with vividly coloured designs. These included Radha-Krishna, Ganesha, Lakshmi, the sun, flowers, peacocks and other nature-inspired motifs.

Only a kilometre away, I drove to the ‘dori’ or the workplace of Shilp Sangh. A co-operative society, Shilp Sangh, employs and empowers local women who are adept in Mithila art. These women work for 5-6 hours every day painting on various textures. They make saris, stoles, wall hangings and other home furnishing and stationery products. These are made on orders and are further sold to national and international markets. Here I saw women of all age groups work diligently and in unity.

If I could take away one learning from my visit to the villages in Madhubani district, it would be the fact that this art has been a lifeline for the women here. It has progressed from being just an accomplishment of the unmarried girls to the source of livelihood and freedom for the women. Senior women rely on it since it gives their life a direction. And the general confidence of the gender is higher here. The girls and women I met took pride in their work, articulated their experiences very confidently and were self-assured. Evidently, this art has opened many doors of opportunities for the women here.

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